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