Ray Ratto

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


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


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.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports


Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.