It’s called chin music.
That’s the tune MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred started playing on Tuesday. They threw one high and hard in the chin of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland City Council.
Get the message, Oakland? Vote to approve the A’s plan and pledge $ 855 million for the infrastructure of the new A’s baseball stadium and surrounding village around Howard Terminal, or say goodbye to your adorable little baseball team.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan announced that MLB suggested that the A’s start looking for a new hometown, in case their latest stadium proposal is rejected or delayed.
In fact, the news contained two bombs. In addition to giving the A’s the green light to buy a new home, the MLB said, “The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball.”
Until now, neither the A’s nor the MLB had rejected the Colosseum as a viable site for a new baseball stadium. You might think MLB’s primary concern would be some rough new A-stage, rather than a deep interest in John Fisher’s proposed $ 12 billion development, right? Maybe MLB stands for Major League Business.
The East Oakland Stadium Alliance, which opposes the A’s plans to build in and around Howard Terminal, issued a reaction statement Tuesday: “While the Oakland A’s have claimed to be ‘rooted in Oakland’, we let’s see now that it was only if the city wanted it. distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to taxpayers to fund a large real estate development. “
It’s called power politics, guys. Please allow me to punch a few holes here and there in the fiery whiff of the MLB directive.
• Note that the original statement is from the MLB, not the A’s, although the pressure plan on Oakland is surely a joint effort. The As’s were very careful trying not to appear obnoxious or belligerent, even as opposition to their plan escalated. They let their big brother do the dirty work for them. Now the As’s can say, “Hey, we love Oakland, but the MLB told us to start looking around, what can we do?”
• “Track and field needs a new stadium to stay competitive,” the MLB statement read.
Why does MLB care that A’s are competitive? I had a recent conversation with Neil deMause of fieldofschemes.com, an expert on how new sports venues are built – or not built. We discussed the approximate situation of A.
Referring to the A’s playing in the very outdated Colosseum and using that as an excuse to keep the payroll very low, deMause said, “How does that hurt Major League Baseball? This reduces the salaries, because it is one more team that does not increase the salaries of the free agents. It shows other teams that you can win, at least sometimes, on a low payroll, which encourages other teams to follow the A’s and Rays’ model – “ We’re not throwing in the towel, we’re playing Moneyball. “.
“(The owners of the team) love it. They obviously would like the A’s to have a new stadium, because why not, but I don’t think they have a problem with the A’s not spending a lot.
Many cities would love to have a major league team, and many are making plans for A’s wine and dinner. The list includes Las Vegas, Portland, Nashville, Vancouver, Charlotte and Montreal.
Threat of relocation is a common tactic used by teams seeking public funds to build – or help build – a new stadium.
“The Rays used this threat,” deMause said. “If they had to move somewhere, wouldn’t you think they would have done so by now?” It’s been so many years. With A’s the problem is that while they don’t generate as much income as they think it is, it’s still a more valuable franchise than if they were in Portland or Nashville or wherever.
“The Bay Area is a huge television market, and local television is still an important part of baseball. . Right now the A’s are in pretty good shape, they’re not Cincinnati, they’re solidly sort of a mid-level market, if not a little above. There is nowhere a better option. For example, if Nashville offered the A a completely free stadium, I don’t know if that would be a better deal than staying at the Coliseum.
What if Oakland told the A’s, We’ll give you $ 155 million, our best. What would Fisher do?
“So if you’re John Fisher, do you kickstart and move to Las Vegas?” Mause request. “Or do you say, ‘You know what? Mayor Schaff won’t be here forever, and I’m going to continue to own the team, so am I giving up or just waiting for the next mayor? It’s hard to say that moving to Las Vegas is a better option. “
Do you know who’s okay with that? Or did you do it? Rob Manfred, who said in 2018: “I believe there is no other market in the United States that has the upside potential of Oakland, and I think we would regret leaving Oakland if we did. were doing.
• John Fisher, please define “success”.
In the A’s statement, Fisher said, “The future success of the A’s depends on an approximate new stage.”
There is plenty of evidence that for Fisher, success is not measured in W and L, but in $. A’s most glaring weakness right now is shortstop. They let local star Marcus Semien walk rather than pay him $ 18 million for this season. They traded for Elvis Andrus while only having to pay him $ 8.75 million, with the Rangers paying the remaining $ 6.25 million of his salary. Financially, a successful move. On the ground so far, a disaster.
If Fisher moved the A’s, the team’s value would plummet, with no guarantee of increased income. And the MLB would trade in a smaller market.
Watch your chin, Oakland.
Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @scottostler