Some Bay Area sports journalists have swallowed the canard that Billy Beane may leave because he thinks the A’s can’t win while playing in the Oakland Coliseum without even considering these questions:
- If a facility is so important, why are the Tampa Bay Rays doing so much better than the A’s while playing in the majors’ worst stadium? The Rays are doomed because they’re in the same division with the two richest teams in baseball, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, but their record would be good enough to compete for the division lead in three of the five other divisions.
- If the Coliseum keeps the A’s from winning, why didn’t it from 2000-2006 when the club was in the playoffs five years?
- If Beane thinks the Coliseum is too old, why would he go to the Chicago Cubs, who have been playing in the same facility since 1914? Well, maybe it’s because of the Cubs’ rich history. Oh, yeah, they’ve won a World Series as recently as 1908. They last played in one in 1945, when the A’s were still in Philadelphia.
Since then, the Cubs have been in the postseason eight times, but never in the World Series. The A’s have been in the postseason 22 times, including six World Series, four of which they’ve won.
So, why would Beane want to leave? To get away from the penurious ownership of Lew Wolff and John Fisher. Beane can’t say that, of course, but journalists should be able to figure it out.
When Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann bought the team from the Haas family, they cut veteran players — on the advice of general manager Sandy Alderson — and put that money into the farm system. Players from the system, including the big three pitchers — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito — fueled the playoff runs from 2000-2006, along with position players like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.
Now, there’s less money going into the farm system and the results show. The A’s have three position starters from their system — shortstop Cliff Pennington, second baseman Jemile Weeks and catcher Kurt Suzuki. Good players all, but none of them the offensive forces Giambi, Tejada and Chavez were. The A’s young pitchers seem to be good, but they hardly pitch before they land on the DL.
So, the A’s attendance keeps dropping, which suits Wolff fine. He and Fisher collect money from clubs which have higher revenue — and higher costs — because they’re actually trying to win.
Yet, there are writers who think the Giants should give up their territorial rights to San Jose. Not a chance. They made a deal with MLB that, if they built a new park, they’d have those territorial rights. Don’t kid yourself.
Owners and commissioner Bud Selig would make the same deal today. Without it, we’d have the Tampa Bay Giants and one Bay Area team, I don’t want Beane to leave, but if he does, put the blame where it belongs, on Wolff and Fisher, not the Coliseum.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at email@example.com.