06 May 2009

Zennie and I agree

Before you check out Zennie Abraham's newest contribution to the his SFGate blog, let me warn you that both the text form and his vlog are lo-o-o-o-ong. Have a seat. Maybe get a beverage.

Zennie comes out guns blazing on everyone, from Mayor Dellums to A's ownership. Interestingly, he reveals a couple of things that sound absolutely terrible from Oakland's perspective. One, there are four - count 'em, four - groups working on the ballpark issue. Zoinks!
So it's that wealth of experience at seeing Oakland stumble all over itself with secret meetings between people who think they know when they can't even crunch fiscal data let alone craft a decent set of planning scenarios that's got me riled up. And it's the fact that we have as of this writing four committees and groups - The Oakland Mayor's Sports and Entertainment Task Force, Doug Boxer's MLB Task Force, and the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's Land Use Committee, and the Oakland Alameda County Joint Powers Authority - looking at the A's stadium issue and yet never having met as one to talk about this matter and trade information in the objective of presenting a united front that really has been the last straw for me.
Two, Zennie quit the Mayor's Sports and Entertainment Task Force last week. Zennie asks, "Would you believe...?" and all I can say is "Yes, I believe it." I'm not surprised. I don't think any A's fan or Oakland observer is surprised. I don't have to touch on the litany of missteps, the situation is practically self-evident.

I ended an interview with a reporter earlier this week with an opinion I've been wanting to get off my chest for a while: Owning a major league team, and having it in your city, are privileges, not rights. It is incumbent upon both parties to approach any negotiations with that attitude. No matter how long you've owned a team (Marge Schott) or held it in your city (Brooklyn), the fates can be cruel and your privilege can be taken away in an instant. If both parties treated the team as something more than a possession to argue over, more progress could be made.

It can be argued that Wolff/Fisher can treat the team as a possession since, well, they bought the team. Still, owners have a social contract with fans that goes beyond tickets, television, and promotions. There is an unspoken bond between the owners, team, and fans. All have a shared responsibility to protect and grow the franchise. That stewardship begins at the top.

The city, on the other hand, has a much more tenuous grip on the team. It may have a lease agreement as the only legal bond. It also has a responsibility to uphold the relationship with the team. If the city is looking to provide a stadium solution, it behooves them to put aside the political oneupsmanship and games, in order to work together to reach that common goal. This is where Zennie and I are on the same page. The fact that one of Oakland's staunchest advocates quit over his frustration with the process is perhaps the most disheartening development I've heard yet. Zennie's more a numbers guy than a work-the-channels type, so I'm not going to oversell his value. Regardless, it's anything but good, and smacks of running to the lifeboats.

I'll end this post with a quote from the 99-year young John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood:
Never mistake activity for achievement.
(placing palm on face now)


gojohn10 said...

...outside corner, ring 'em up, strike three looking :(

Navigator said...

Let's stop trying to muddle the waters in Oakland.

This is pure propaganda from someone with an ax to grind. So what if there are different groups working on the situation? The more ideas the better. Let's take a look at everyone's proposals and see if any of them will be acceptable to Lew Wolff and Bud Selig.

Trying to prove that Oakland is dysfunctional doesn't spare Mr. Wolff from the overwhelming evidence that he's been disingenuous when it comes to claims that he's made any kind of legitimate effort to build that ballpark in Oakland. Trying to muddle the waters in Oakland does nothing to detract from the fact of Oakland being defrauded by MLB when the Dolich/Piccinini group was rejected when attempting to buy the team and keep it in Oakland.

The Lew Wolff apologists, some of them from Oakland, want the City of Oakland to come up with a "viable" site, when Lew Wolff himself has gone on record as saying that Oakland is "not viable" as a location for MLB.

It goes something like this, "Oakland, you're not viable, now show us a viable site." This game has been fixed for a long time. Oakland is suppose to except what is, and what isn't, a viable site, from individuals who have already expressed their anti-Oakland biases.

Bud Selig for example called the A's relocation to Oakland "a horrible mistake." And Oakland is going to get a fair shake on the viability of sites from these individuals? We may as well allow the Mayor of San Jose to decide what's "viable" in Oakland. What a complete sham!

Oakland Si said...

a good read, worth reading through it all.

Marine Layer said...

"So what if there are different groups working on the situation?"

It doesn't help when these different groups aren't communicating together to come up with a short list or cohesive plan.

Hold on, Nav. First you say, "Let's take a look at everyone's proposals and see if any of them will be acceptable to Lew Wolff and Bud Selig."

But at the end you say, "This game has been fixed for a long time. Oakland is suppose to except (sic) what is, and what isn't, a viable site, from individuals who have already expressed their anti-Oakland biases."

You can't have it both ways, Nav. Yes, Oakland is getting screwed. And????

Navigator said...

Marine Layer, Yes Oakland is getting screwed, AND, if it were up to me, we'd be in court already and Mr. Wolff would be playing his games at San Jose's minor league ballpark.

The idea that Lew Wolff plays in Oakland virtually rent free, gets virtually all the concession money, and to top it all off, gets receipts from gates of 50,000 fans for International soccer matches? You've got to be kidding me. Who's watching the store in Oakland?

If the guy detests Oakland so much after this kind of sweetheart deal, kick his sorry a-- out. Are you listening Mr. De La Fuente.

Zonis said...

Nav, you are confusing the hell out of me.

First, you want to sue Wolff and the A's. FOR WHAT? On what gounds could you sue them for besides you being mad that they no longer want to be here.

Second, you just said that you no longer want them to be here, so shouldn't that solve that problem?

Marine Layer said...

Nav, you might want to direct some of your fury at IDLF, since he approved the last Coliseum lease extension as a Coliseum Authority board member.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about playing at San Jose Municipal - it can accommodate the same size crowds as currently show up for games in Oakland.

Navigator said...

Zonis and Marine Layer,

It comes to a point that if someone wants to denigrate your city at every opportunity, while at the same time feeding off a very unfavorable deal to the people of Oakland, it comes a time when you have to call their bluff.

I don't agree with Mr. Wolff receiving receipts from huge crowds at international soccer matches, in the very stadium in Oakland which he continually denigrates.

Wolff acts like he holds all the cards.

Memo to Mr. Wolff:

Oakland HAS a ballpark. You don't. Oakland has the truth on its side regarding all the shenanigans you and Bud Selig have pulled. You don't.

If you don't like it in Oakland, why don't you just leave now? Frankly Mr. Wolff, you don't bring much to the table economically to Oakland as things now stand. If you don't want to invest 500 million in capital in a new ballpark in the city which has hosted this franchise for over 40 years, your current team and situation does nothing for Oakland. You're basically a taker in Oakland with your attitude, your failed policies, and your under performing team. You're lucky Oakland even gives a darn.

Anonymous said...

Sweetheart deal my ass - if the deal had been any worse, the A's would have been gone years agao. Even with that deal, they only stay above water by being on the MLB dole.

Marine Layer said...

Take it up with the Coliseum Authority, Nav. It takes two to tango. BTW, if the Authority were to boot the A's out now they would be in breach of contract. Not the A's.

Navigator said...

Spare me the tears. If you think I'm going to cry for a bunch of disingenuous millionaires as they screw my hometown, you've got another thing coming.

I'll let you agonize about Lew Wolff's bottom line.

Jeffrey said...

Bravado: When Logic Fails.

Zennie's article struck me as odd. He said that Guy Saperstein was wrong about the A's attendance in the 70's and then confirms that he was right in his response (Guy said A's averaged under a million in the 70's/ Zennie said they had 900k a few years and crossed a million twice... doesn't that average out to less than a million?)

I felt bad for Zennie reading about the Super Bowl stuff. He seems like a man genuinely interested in making stuff work for Oakland despite the City's own disinterest.

Jerry Brown: Champion of Sports in Oakland.

Wasn't that one of Nav's rants before? Having Brown on a committee to keep the A's in town?


daveinsm said...

all bite :)

Anonymous said...

Who IS this guy? Count the number of "Is" in his screed and recall the old truism about there being no "I" in team. Also think about him being involved in the whole Raiders' mess, which of course ended up killing the Coliseum as a baseball park.

Zennie is a poster child for the Oakland political establishment the way it is and has always been: Show time. I challenge anyone to take a look at Ron Dellums's antics over the years as a congressman and conclude that he acts any differently as mayor. Same goes for De La Fuentes, et al. They're all more interested in showing off than they are in getting work done. If I owned a serious business enterprise—and that's what an MLB team is—I wouldn't want to deal with the Oakland political establishment either.

Did anyone notice what Zennie linked to? MLB attendance for the years 1970-79. While trying to dig into Saperstein, this buffoon actually exposed Oakland for the terrible baseball city it has always been. That's right. During a decade when the A's won five division titles and three world series (team of the decade), they had the lowest home attendance in the major leagues.

Yep, Oakland's a great baseball town. And meanwhile, Navigator is still trying to score points off Wolff and the A's. Think they care, Navigator?

Navigator fits in with Oakland very well. Victim complexes and pity parties are big in Oakland.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just maybe, the politicians of Oakland are just giving lip service in the media regarding their plans to keep the A's in Oakland. And you know what...that would be OK! They have a real city to run, with a myriad of issues, both economic and social, that trump building a play pen for the rich.

I'm pretty sure if your average citizen of Oakland felt that the city's top priority, in this economic climate, was to get the A's a new ballpark, they would be furious. That's why the Oakland effort appears to be all over the board, because it is not serious. Oakland politicians have a real city to run with real problems affecting real people.

Lastly, and Zennie probably knows this, the A's don't have to come to the city seriously; they don't have to come to the city WITHOUT a ballpark village plan; they don't have to prove they're committed to Oakland; they don't need to drop their "serious reservations" about Oakland.

As ML said earlier: Yes, Oakland is getting screwed by a private business wanting to relocate out of the city...AND?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:11, there are many that also that think or believe the Raiders killed the Coliseum for baseball but even if the Raiders never came back in 1995 or played somewhere else in the East Bay when they first came back, I am sure Wolf or any other owner would still want a new ballpark for the A's by now. I think Wolf even stated in the first press conference for his Fremont proposal with the Cisco Corporation that the Raiders have nothing to do with his goal of wanting to build a new ballpark for the A's and its not "their" fault. Even without the 1996 renovation many would now consider a Pre-1996 Coliseum to be outdated and in a undesirable area for a modern MLB Team, plus having to compete with a much newer AT&T Park just across the bridge.

I am not a San Jose partisan, I am an A's fan from the East Bay that just wants the team to stay in the Bay Area at this point and I think San Jose is currently the most feasible and realistic chance of keeping this team in the region.

I think this committee is just going through the motions with Oakland in examining these sites and will determine that all these Oakland sites have too high preparation and infrastructure costs as well as other time consuming issues like not having a completed EIR. I think the league will remove these ridiculous and archaic territory rights and allow the A's to move to San Jose, allowing the team to get off the revenue sharing pot for the benefit of the entire league. Plus it would be good to get some distance between the Bay Area Sport Franchises.

Anonymous said...

ML--agree with most of your post--but help me out--how is Oakland getting screwed? That victim mentality coupled with the sense of entitlment of the Oakland group is what has created this mess. As an A's fan I feel like I am getting screwed... by the Giants and MLB not allowing the A's to build a stadium in an area where they can compete--albeit--30 miles down the road from the dump they play in today. Come on---

gojohn10 said...

If only we could get the A's to split there ballpark committee into four groups. Certainly one of the sixteen combinations of committees could come up with a viable solution in Oakland

Marine Layer said...

9:12 - Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

Seriously, it comes down to the A's wanting to leave for one or more reasons. Some are legit, some are not so legit. Whatever the case, part of the community is being torn away. By the act's very nature, Oakland is getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

LOL gojohn!

Look, none of this matters because the ultra-secret Oakland Star Chamber is right now in a hidden bunker developing a plan so amazing and so cunning that my head would explode if I began to understand it. Just sit back and wait people. It's all coming together.

hamachi said...

it makes sense we had so many anon's stating they knew of a secret plan that would solve everything. there are four plans!

and those attendance figures look pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

Listen guys, all those different committees don't mean anything except that there are other groups in Oakland trying to come up with their own plans as well. Don't get me wrong, the more the better and I think it's great that we have several individuals trying to come up with a viable plan for Oakland and the A's. However, I will say that I am one of the guys who does know someone working closely inside on this issue and I'll tell you the only thing that does matter is the one group that's actually going to be meeting with LW, MLB and their Blue Ribbon Committee.

Not to worry all the pro-Oakland folks (especially Navigator and LeAndre) out there. Everything is happening as they had planned since the beginning and I have been told countless times not to stress too much about it for now.

I've been saying it over and over again for some time now. The political will taking place behind Oakland is a lot deeper than any of us realize and this is going to be a long process. The A's aren't going anywhere for long time.

I really don't care how much the San Jose partisans thinks the A's will be moving to the South Bay and neither should any of you.

Jeffrey said...

Yay! Anonymous posters who know how everything is going to play out.

This is getting boring.

Anonymous said...

Agree Jeffrey--we have the anon insiders indicating that the Blue Ribbon Commission is telling the Oakland group not to stress about things--that its going to be a long process---it has already been a long process--15 years and counting---but according to anon insider--everything is happening as planned---makes me wonder if he really believes this s*** he types--

Anonymous said...

the a's did have a nearly done project in freemont, but it fell through because of whatever, it went from plans with a site to freemont going nahh, no permit or whatever.(amazing). now everything has to be done all over again from the start and thats quite a bit of work to bascially be redone.

quite a process to do all over again. i'll give out sympathy points and place nobody on the villan list.

Anonymous said...

That's right Jefferey, what the heck do you know about any of this besides your own opinions??

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 9:20 - did your friend teach you the secret handshake yet? Because mine did!

Anonymous said...

I don't need a secret handshake when I can just give them a call and talk about what's going on.

I told you guys...I don't really care what you think regarding San Jose. Why don't we all just wait and see what happens before you want to try and start talking trash. I'm putting my money on them staying in Oakland before MLB ever goes down to San Jose.

bartleby said...


I have to disagree that Oakland is "getting screwed." Look, I understand why even a move to San Jose is painful for some long time followers of the team. As I've said before, civic pride is a powerful thing. It's no accident that the most vigorous debates on this board have been over team name (when the team was seemingly headed to Fremont) and now whether Oakland or San Jose can best support the team. A move to San Jose sends a message that San Jose is a city on the way up while Oakland is a city on the way down. Also, the atmosphere and crowds at the game will certainly change, as they did in SF. It's an emotional thing, and I get all that. Contrary to what some may think, I actually have sympathy for long-time East Bay A's fans (at least the rational ones).

But "getting screwed" is when you've provided long-term great support for the team, get blackmailed for a ridiculous ransom in public funds, and then lose the team to another market where you cannot go to games. None of these are true in Oakland. Baltimore Colts fans got screwed. Cleveland Browns fans got screwed. Seattle Sonics fans got screwed. Minnesota North Stars fans got screwed. Oakland A's fans are not getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:33,


Anonymous said...

barleby--agree completely--like the guy who treats his wife horribly and than feels he's getting screwed when she wants a divorce. The city of Oakland is as accountable as anyone else in this proposed divorce--and to label them as getting screwed ignores the past 15+ years of ineptness on their part.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:40--what incredible powers you must have to access the Oakland brass and get the inside scoop on their ultra secret plans-

Your primary messgase has been we have them right where we want them---they can't leave because of territorial rights--and therefore there is nothing that they can do--they will be here for along time...

For someone getting the inside scoop on the Oakland efforts you would dramatically improve your crediblity by moving away from we have them trapped and they can't leave to we actually have a plan that will make them want to stay-

Anonymous said...

No one is saying that they have them right where they want them. I'm simply saying that Oakland Officials do have a plan that they have been working on since the beginning and they're sticking to it regardless of what Zennie and any other bloggers want to imply.

You guys can assume whatever you want, and I'll just go by what I'm hearing from the inside and then we'll see where the A's end up. End of story.

Anonymous said...

This 15 years crap has got to stop and it's tired and getting old. Lew Wolff has not owned the A's for 15 years!! It should be more like for the past 15 years the city of San Jose has been trying to get an MLB team without any success. 15+ of trying to get an MLB team without any success...give up already!!

The A's have not been publicly looking for a new ballpark until Lew Wolff took over in 2005.

Jeffrey said...

So an anon poster is now putting his anon money on an anon plan set forth by the anon people in city hall. Consider me impressed.

Jeffrey said...

the 15 years is mostly accurate. The A's have been looking for a new stadium since before the Raiders returned. Dispute it all you want, but go back and read Steve Schott's comments on the situation from back then first.

The A's had been working with the city to reconfigure the Coliseum way back in the mid 90's. The city decided to bring back the Raiders and spend 200 million on a different reconfiguration and the A's have wanted something more than a reconfig ever since.

The Raiders returned in 1996, so at a minimum it has been 13 years.

Anonymous said...

The Raiders played their first season back in Oakland in 1995; the deal was announced at the very beginning of that year (i.e. more than fifteen years ago). This season will be the Raiders fifteenth season back in Oakland.

Anonymous said...

This proposed move to San Jose will be tied up in the courts for years

Sorry, Oakland is not going to roll over for San Jose.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:18---suggest you read a bit about the Sonics move from Seattle to OKC---wasn't tied up for years--or even months---and they are now in OKC---there is such a thing as frivoulous lawsuits--not to mention who is going to pay for all the lawsuits--just what Oakland needs to do--use its citizens tax dollars to sue for no reason....might want to retain some of those police officers instead--

Anonymous said...

"This proposed move to San Jose will be tied up in the courts for years"

How, pray tell, will it be tied up in the courts?

The A's are currently in a year to year lease. They have no contractual obligation to play beyond the terms of the lease.

Secondly, MLB has the antitrust exemption, which will pretty much kill any lawsuits trying to prevent such a move...

But - for a little light comedy, lets take this gem:

"Sorry, Oakland is not going to roll over for San Jose."

Absolutely priceless. Tell that to the City of Seattle, who had a valid lease and still lost the Sonics to OKC.

Tell that to Baltimore, who lost the Colts in the dead of night.

Tell that to Montreal Expos fans...

Last but certainly not least, tell that to Oakland, which tried to use an eminent domain lawsuit to keep the Raiders from bolting for Los Angeles in 1982. (that they came back has no bearing on that - Oakland lost the suit, and team returned 13 years later, only to hear the rumblings of the team wanting to find shiny new digs once again...

Zennie Abraham said...

Thanks for the coverage. I have to explain that I was pointing to Guy's letter where he claimed Oakland never had a year where it topped a million during the 70s. That was my issue. I was here during the Finley years and he ran the team into the ground the last three and then threatened to sell the organization. People stopped coming because they didn't like the product or the owner; it wasn't Bay Area two-team economics. Indeed, from 1968 to 1975 attendance between SF and Oakland was comparable, proving we could sustain a two team region.

Anonymous said...

Zennie, Zennie, Zennie...

Guy said that those teams drew less than a million fans per year during the 70's, as in AVERAGING IT OUT.

Your playing semantics in bullsh*t. Yes, they hit a million ONCE in the decade, but Guy's point remains valid.