12 March 2009

Oakland reaches out to Selig

I have to say that I've found Oakland's letter to Bud Selig the most fascinating news of the week.
In it, Mayor Ron Dellums and Council President Jane Brunner implore Commissioner Bud Selig to appoint a point person to work with the City. They cite Oakland's great history of support for the A's. The letter evens ends with a request to renew urban America:
In these troubling times when everyone is putting their shoulder to the common wheel and President Barack Obama has called on all of us to put the public's interest first, I believe a professional sports league like MLB has an obligation to do the right thing and stand by a city and its people who have historically stood alongside baseball.
It's a bit of a stretch, but it's well phrased. Neither Oakland nor San Jose need baseball to be relevant or vital. Both want it to either maintain or raise their profiles (as did Fremont, or at least its pols).

The more interesting bit is on the first page:
For our efforts to succeed, though, we will need a commitment from MLB and the A's that they will work earnestly with us to design a ballpark plan that will be good for Oakland, good for the team, and good for baseball.

We are naming an A's Stadium Committee comprised of some of Oakland's leading civic leaders who will be tasked by the City to work hand-in-hand with you, the Fisher Family and Mr. Lew Wolff to develop a stadium in Oakland.

In particular, we graciously request that you name a point person from the Commissioner's Office who will work with the city to develop a ballpark strategy that will keep the A's in Oakland.
Those three paragraphs tell us everything we need to know about how Oakland wants to proceed. They want a commitment from MLB and they want to work directly with MLB. That tells me they're going over Lew Wolff's head. They even mention the Fishers, even though John Fisher has generally receded into the background.

Is this really the way they want to do this? Has the relationship with Lew deteriorated to the point of asking him not to be the lead negotiator? I understand how the Miami situation came about, as Jeff Loria and David Samson kept making demands of Miami and Dade County while entertaining an exodus. The end result was that Bob DuPuy came in, told them to stand in the corner, and brokered the deal, which also appears to be on the precipice thanks to hotel tax revenue shortfalls.

I would think that the best way to write a formal letter like this to Wolff. Next, on Opening Day, make a full court press on Wolff and the Fishers. If they don't respond, then you make a plea to Selig. No city is going to put up money for a ballpark these days. If you're aiming to have the A's invest in the community $500 million in a ballpark and possibly hundreds of millions more for ancillary development that your city wants, then sell them on it, don't try to guilt them into it. There's no rush to make a deal at the present and certainly no need to go over people's heads at this point.

Wow, just wow.