31 March 2009

Opinions to feed your nightmares

For the 4th and hopefully final post today, we have several opinion pieces. Let's start off with Monte Poole's feeling that Oakland fans have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray:

Selig, then, is here to take some of the heat off his buddy. With Uncle Lew playing "bad cop," Bud sees an opportunity to pose as "good cop." He is piecing together the shredded letter and handing it back to Wolff for further consideration.

"Selig's office called us (Monday) to inform us about the committee," Dellums chief of staff David Chai said Tuesday via e-mail. "In addition, Lew reached out to us and would like to set up a meeting."

In other words, what three weeks ago was perceived by Wolff as pointless has, just like that, become a priority. Wow. Is anything in sports more impressive than mighty Bud Selig swinging into action?

The problem, of course, is that this sounds better than it really is. We know where Bud stands. In general, he stands wherever he must to avoid the bright light of accountability. In regards to baseball in Oakland, he has made clear he stands against the Coliseum and against the A's moving to San Jose.

Next, we have something from the Merc's editorial page:
And while the city has a great site in mind — 14 acres near downtown's Diridon Station — the details need more work. An environmental study for a 32,000-seat stadium was done several years ago, but it did not get close public scrutiny because there was no immediate prospect of landing a team. Nor did it take into account the new plans for high-speed rail stopping at Diridon, which will add to the complexity of the area — but also to its appeal for baseball.
Finally, Mark Purdy's a bit tardy in chiming in:

But why would Selig go to all that trouble and ruffle so many feathers if, in the end, no ballpark is built in San Jose? Answer: He wouldn't.

Of course, the flip side is that the movers and shakers of San Jose and the South Bay — not just the politicos, but also business people and corporate sponsors who will pay for luxury boxes and scoreboard ads — are never going to give maximum effort and dollars toward a ballpark unless they are certain that the territorial-rights issue is moot.

In other words, a classic Catch-22. Wolff always has sought a way to unlock that catch and thread the needle — to create a negotiating window where he could promise San Jose that if voters approve a ballpark proposal, the territorial-rights issue wouldn't matter.

All this activity almost has me thinking that next week's media coverage and events will strike an anticlimactic tone in light of what's happened the last two weeks. Fool me once...

Sleep well, children.

Boxer appeals to Selig

Senator Barbara Boxer, who is an Oakland resident, wrote the commish to bolster efforts to keep the A's in Oakland. Here's the full letter for your perusal:

March 31, 2009

Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167

Dear Commissioner Selig:

I appreciate the announcement you made yesterday that you are forming a committee to review the various proposals regarding the future of the Oakland Athletics. As your committee does its work, I urge you to do everything possible to keep the team in Oakland.

As you may know, Oakland has recently gone through some difficult times and families there deserve some good news. As someone who splits her time between Washington, DC, southern California and Oakland’s Jack London Square neighborhood, I have seen first hand that Oakland is teeming with new young families and major developments that present endless possibilities. My children learned to love baseball through the Oakland A’s and our family was so fortunate to develop that common bond. We must give a new generation of families that same chance.

Oakland is witnessing a downtown renaissance, with new residences, restaurants, art galleries and entertainment venues opening weekly. Two new office towers are in development and the Port of Oakland recently announced a private investment of close to $1 billion. Major League Baseball can play a key role in continuing this momentum by working to keep the A’s in Oakland.

Through their rich history and shared experiences, the identities of the City of Oakland and the Athletics are forever linked. For more than 40 years, the people of Oakland have backed the Athletics during good times and bad. In the 1970s, Oakland celebrated the Athletics’ glorious run of three consecutive World Series victories. And, together, the city of Oakland and the Athletics mourned the devastation caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake that took place during the team’s 1989 championship run.

Now that the team has ended its consideration of Fremont as a possible home, the time is right to renew the focus on keeping the Athletics in Oakland.

It is critical that Major League Baseball and the A’s ownership do everything possible to keep the A’s in Oakland and I stand ready to help in any way possible, including attending and setting up meetings for you and the Committee. Please do not hesitate to call me at 202-XXX-XXXX to discuss this issue.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

No threats, no harsh words. It's the right type of letter to start. We'll see what happens beyond that.

Neukom responds

The Merc's Andrew Baggarly had a chance to ask Giants owner William Neukom about the newly formed committee.

MLB spokesperson Rich Levin told the Mercury News that territorial rights would be discussed by the commission, but Neukom said he did not believe Commissioner Bud Selig intends to challenge the Giants’ claim to the Silicon Valley.

“Read the statement,” Neukom said. “It says Major League Baseball wants to help them find a home in their territory. Alameda and Contra Costa county is their territory, full stop. And we support that and hope it’s successful.”

Neukom also believes any talk of territorial rights changing is premature at best.
Asked if he felt he had the support of other owners, Neukom said, “You’re way ahead of the state of play. The question is, and I think it’s very sensible by the commissioner, that they have territorial rights and we have territorial rights. They need a better home. That’s fine, we agree with that, we support them in that, and the commissioner is saying, `Let’s find them a home in their territory.’ We hope they will do that.”
I almost forgot how good at lawyer-speak this guy is.

Perata to run for Oakland Mayor

Chip Johnson has the scoop. Don Perata can't stands it no more, so he's throwing his hat into the ring to become the next mayor of Oakland. From an outsider's perspective, Perata would have to be considered a favorite against Dellums (if he runs again) and anyone else in the City Council.

The fascinating thing about this news is that Oakland could go from a lofty, anti-details mayor to a guy who built the most powerful political machine in the East Bay. Perata's tenure as State Senator has been filled with controversy, as a seemingly endless FBI investigation is well into its fourth year. It looks increasingly like Perata will emerge from the ordeal poorer but politically unscathed.

Would this longtime power broker be able to get a ballpark deal done in Oakland? Absolutely. His organizing and fundraising skills are legendary. Perata's critics would be quick to point out that he was one of the initiators of the deal to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, and that could make anyone leery of supporting a new ballpark plan. Of course, if you're Oakland partisan who would support Perata in any efforts to retain the A's, you're gonna have to wait until 2011 to truly get going on a deal. It was Perata who, during the Jerry Brown administration, said the mayor's support is critical to a ballpark getting built. Then he threw his political weight behind Forest City and the Uptown development was approved.

How deliciously ironic that a man who, through his actions, helped push the A's out of town, yet could end up being the only guy in Oakland who could save them from moving.