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)