18 December 2008

Oakland's Poor Working Conditions

We've Lew Wolff and Steve Schott grouse about the age and condition of the Coliseum. The Furcal chase, however, may be the first time we've heard about someone actually complain about it. Ken Rosenthal wrote last night:

Upon learning that free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal was deciding between the Dodgers and Braves, one prominent agent expressed sympathy for A's general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst, saying that they face an uphill fight trying to attract free agents to Oakland.

Furcal ended up choosing the Dodgers on Wednesday.

The A's rarely are major players in free agency, but the agent said that the poor working conditions and occasionally unruly crowd behavior at McAfee Coliseum are turnoffs for his clients.

"Many players are uncertain about the atmosphere," the agent said. "They're not as comfortable going to work there or having their families attend games there on a regular basis."

In 2012, the A's are scheduled to move into Cisco Field, which will be located approximately 20 miles south of McAfee in Fremont, Calif.

"That will help them recruit players," the agent said. "Billy and David are as good as anyone in the business. The new park will level the playing field for them and allow them to excel."

It's terribly unfair that one or two incidents many years back, and perhaps Raider fans' reputations, have given the Coliseum a bad rep. Of course, it could be said that when free agents tour the area, they might go through a sequence of events that doesn't really help matters:
  • Fly into SFO or OAK
  • Check into either Parc 55, Sir Francis Drake, or Four Seasons
  • Have dinner/entertainment in SF
  • Next morning, drive to Oakland
  • Take tour of Coliseum
  • Have lunch either on site or in downtown/JLS
  • Head east to Danville/Blackhawk to look at homes
  • Meet other players who live there if possible
  • Wrap up
The only items that don't match the others are the "drive to Oakland" and "tour of Coliseum." When everything else looks pretty good by comparison, it's easy for those two to look not-so-good. It's probably less of a problem for young players. We've known of a few young players who've taken BART daily to the Coliseum. When you're a 32-year-old, injury prone player with a family looking for your last contract, it's a different story.

To be fair, Citizens Bank Park (and previously the Vet) is in the middle of a parking lot in South Philly. The Phils don't have trouble attracting free agents.

In the end, it's one more issue that Lew Wolff and Bud Selig can use as rationale for moving.


Anonymous said...

Classic!!! The only good thing about Oakland is it's view of San Francisco!!!

Anonymous said...

It's the facility, not the location. The Coliseum is a dump. Imagine a player looking at that versus any of the newer jewels built in the past several years. Dodger Stadium was better to begin with and has been updated many times over the years.

Any image of unruly fan behavior is totally unwarranted. A's crowds are just as family friendly as any other. I don't get that at all.

Zonis said...

It doesn't matter what the reality is; I know that A's fans I've met at games are very friendly and knowledgeable, perhaps a bit more so than the fans I've met at other stadiums I've gone to (though I have to admit; A's (or maybe its West Coast fans, since M's fans were very subdued when I visited SafeCo and the Kingdome) are not very rabid in the way, say, Cubs fans are.

But the problem has always been that in the court of public opinion, perception is reality. The perception of Oakland is that its a rundown town full of gangsters, robbery, shootings, etc... with nasty and bigoted sports fans (Everett Incident, Ichiro Incident, The Chair-throw).

Its an image which the City of Oakland has not done much to address. The perception is still there, and I haven't seen much in the way of Oakland doing much to fix it. There are parts of Oakland that are nice (the Hills, for example), but when people think of Oakland, they think of East Oakland. That is the image of the city.

Now, honest assessment. What is the image of other cities around the Bay Area?

The image of San Francisco is somewhat split-on the one hand it is seen as a great tourist place, fancy restaurants, the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. On the other, when you ask what they associate San Francisco with, they will instantly say "Gay".

Whats the image of Fremont? Nationally, the image of Fremont is "No Picture Available". Locally, as we saw in the Ghost Ride my Volvo video, its a Parking Lot with a Mayor and a bunch of Big Box stores like Fry's.

Now what is the public image of San Jose, Nationally and Locally?

Anonymous said...

The national image of San Jose--most don't know where it is--its always been in the shadow of SF---in fact few separate it out from the SF Bay Area--yet it is the 10th largest city, 2nd wealthiest city per capita, 4th largest media market and home to the best weather in the SF Bay Area-

any wonder why many of the athletes of the bay area teams live--San Jose Bay area-

Furcal makes an interesting point---one that I can understand completely---I wouldn't want my family hanging out at the Coliseum after a night game---

Oakland Sí said...

we don't know what Furcal has said. I'm sure most ballplayers' families don't hang out near ballparks at night == nor do many of them live anywhere near the ballparks. They live in the toney suburbs.

The clubhouse at the coliseum is very comparable to many MLB clubhouses. (By contrast, Fenway Park's, I'm told, are cramped and according to some players, unpleasant.) The A's club has actually been complimented by players for the good treatment as far as travel, food, and other amenities -- more so than some other supposedly more well heeled clubs.

The "unruly crowds" comment by an unnamed agent is ill-informed, as others here have noted. And the city of Oakland has been vilified quite unfairly before. I live and work in Oakland and like it very much....and millions of people living and/or working in and near Oakland apparently agree.

Other free agents have been quite happy to sign with Oakland, sometimes even foregoing higher offers (thinking about Piazza, for example). But the A's under Beane have as a policy signed very few free agents, something this criticism conveniently ignores.

Jeffrey said...

The more I think about this, the less I even care.

First, the only free agent that we know of who supposedly had this in mind when spurning the A's didn't exactly set an example of what it is to be honest in the signing process.

Sure the thumb in the eye sucks, but it was an anonymous agent commenting on Rafael Furcal's potential reasons. I honestly think Frank Wren has a bigger beef with this whole process than A's fans.

Second, if anyone still needs to be convinced that the A's need new digs to be able to play in the free agent market they are a fool. From a budget standpoint, from a crowd size standpoint, from a pimped out club house and weight room standpoint... I get all that and this little rif by Rosenthal doesn't add anything new.

Third, the Notice of Prep comment period is over... what's up with that? I imagine a lot more negative views than positive, simply because those who are opposed will be most vocal anyway.

Willie said...

Theres no validity or even a source behind these "statements." Not even sure why they are mentioned here. They are rumor and nothing else. Enough with stereotyping and bashing of Oakland.

Furcal never said ANY of these things. He wanted to go somewhere he was comfortable with, and ultimately decided on the Dodgers who don't exactly have a brand new ballpark.

The coliseum has never been an issue in attracting free agents. Just look at David Justice, Mike Sweeney, Mike Piazza, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas(twice!) and so on.

If "poor working conditions", whatever that means, really had anything to do with signing players you would think Chicago and Boston would have MUCH more trouble attracting players. They play in two of the oldest stadiums in MLB. Their lockerrooms are small and cramped and just ask Ozzie Guillen about how big the rats are in Wrigley.

Enough with the Oakland stereotyping and bashing.

Anonymous said...

Willie- to compare Wrigley, Fenway and Dodger Stadium to the Colisieum and imply that they are equal in terms of working condition is a joke----the atmosphere at all 3 of these ballparks day in and day out is better than even the best day in Oakland. All 3 ballparks have had major upgrades and while they may be old are in top shape---Each of these ballparks averages at least 35,000 fans and for Fenway and Wrigley it would be more if the ballparks held more-

If you were playing the game can you honestly say you would prefer to play in Oakland v. Dodger Stadium if given the choice? If your an honest man you know the answer to that---

Anonymous said...

And that list of free agents were all guys Beane signed on the cheap because they had limited options. Not exactly a list of the league's hottest free agents we were able to sign because our facility is as good as any other.