Ratto: Oakland still in game for new A's stadium

212011.jpg

Ratto: Oakland still in game for new A's stadium

Dec. 15, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEA'S PAGE A'S VIDEORay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

You knew, you just knew that when the As San Jose ballpark plan kept running into snag after logjam and procedural hurdle that it was actually a harbinger of Never mind. Were not that keen on it after all.

And while San Jose has not yet chunked in its interest of grabbing Los Elefantes, Oaklands newfound interest in jumping back into the fray is a clear sign that, after months and even years of resigned indifference, the East Bays anchor is interested in becoming the ship again.

RELATED: A's Plan for San Jose Stadium Hits Snag

The citys community and economic development committee approved a 750,000 environmental impact report (that the city council will approve next week) for a study that will show that the Victory Court stadium site (think the estuary waterfront, cheek by barnacle with the Giants aging basilisk across the way). And frankly, getting Oakland to spend money on anything related to the As is in and of itself the civic version of the baseball team signing Albert Pujols.

Lew Wolff, the reluctantly public face of majority ownerstealth ninja John Fisher, still wants the San Jose stadium because, well, in considerable part because hes spent so much of the past few years trying to convince fans that Oakland is a political and financial sinkhole and that San Jose is the only alternative.

RELATED: Stadiums Must Go Back to the Future

Well, apparently it isnt, as Major League Baseball has already weighed in on Oaklands site selection as though it believes Oakland is still viable. True, MLB never says no when someone else is footing the bill, and its word on stadium and location matters is always reliable . . . until it isnt.

But the San Jose plan is suddenly the neglected stepchild despite Wolffs plan of holding his breath until you and I turn blue. Rumors during the winter meetings last week that suggested strongly that Major League Baseball (which is Bud Selig about seven owners) favors an Oakland site tend to make a fella go, Hmmmmmmmm.

Understand here that MLB goes where the clout is, and Oakland suddenly has surprising clout. Each of the last two mayors have given approximately zero percent of a damn, but theyre both gone one to the governors mansion in Sacramento, the other to speaking tours. The Jack London area is going through some understated but eventually dramatic upgrading (the banks willing), some heavy hitters like Sen. Barbara Boxer have skin (i.e., land) in the game, and in case you havent noticed, San Jose hasnt moved a millimeter in its ability to make the As their own.

And history shows that when nothings happening in baseball, theres a good reason.

It isnt territorial rights, which the Giants wave like a giant foul-line-to-foul-line flag. And it isnt the blue ribbon commission from MLB which is supposed to offer recommendations but in fact offers what it is told by MLB to recommend.

But the point here is that Oakland, sclerotic but stubborn as it is, is playing like it has lapped the field without anyone seeing. And in this economic and political climate, even 750K for an EIR is a hell of a check-raise.

All of which leaves Wolff and, more to the point, Fisher with a decision to make. Whether to retract everything either of them ever said about Oaklands lack of suitability for their little ball team, or to hammer down a For Sale sign and let someone else enjoy the migraines.

And the revenue sharing checks.

Were still in the early stages here, and Oakland could end up mangling the pooch yet again, as it has repeatedly with the As. But for the moment, the Oakland As may have a new reason to slap Oakland back on the front of the jerseys again.

And wont that be a press conference to see? Ladies and gentlemen, Lewis (I Am No Longer Gertrude Stein) Wolff, will answer your questions about Victory Court Ballyard, Automotive Repair Center, Public Library and Dry Cleaners from behind that barricade. Mr. Urban you may begin.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

kelly.jpg
USATSI

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

warriors-map.jpg
Geology.com

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.