Say it ain’t ‘Zo: Hard to be A’s fan these days

Cheer up, A’s fans! There’s only 67 days left in this train wreck of a regular season!

Got something better for them to look forward to in the next few months?

On Tuesday, Ben Zobrist became the latest player to be traded. No surprise there. The 34-year-old had a foot out the door when he arrived with one year left on his contract last winter. That’s how the A’s do business.

Zobrist followed Tyler Clippard, who was dealt to the New York Mets, who followed Scott Kazmir, who was sent to the Houston Astros … Who’s next, the Rickey Henderson giant head mascot?

If the A’s were committed to wins and losses more than dollars and cents, they would lock up Sonny Gray to a longterm deal. He’s the kind of stud pitcher that a team can build around for years. But would anyone be shocked if even he was moved in the near future?

WAIT ’TIL NEXT DECADE? Things may get worse for a last-place A’s team that doesn’t figure to contend any time soon. Billy Beane indicated his department would look for younger players with higher upsides, which could make for a lengthy rebuilding process. The plan could coincide with that for a new stadium, although the optimistic GM didn’t say how it would be built, where it would be built or who would build it.

Is it possible that Beane knows something that the rest of us don’t? Has he been told that the Raiders are a done deal in Southern California? Because if Beane doesn’t have inside information, then the remarks sound eerily familiar to his wishful thinking of a few years ago.

Even if a new stadium in the East Bay does become a reality, co-owner Lew Wolff says it will take at least three years to design and construct it. That takes us to 2019 or 2020, and that’s a long time for fans who haven’t witnessed a World Series in 26 years to keep the faith.

EXECUTIVE(S) OF THE YEAR: First, Kazmir heads to the first-place Astros. Then Zobrist is shipped to the first-place Royals.

Turns out Beane is so good, he may be able to build two playoff teams in the same league — even if neither is his own.

POOR EXCUSE: If you bleed Green and Gold, here’s what really stinks: Your team projects the image of a have-not, when in fact there is no such thing. Major League Baseball has such lucrative television contracts, every one of its 30 teams is guaranteed a profit before the first pitch of the season.

According to Forbes, the A’s started the season with a net worth of $725 million, which ranked 27th out of 30 teams. That represented a healthy 46 percent increase from the previous year. And their 20.8 million operating budget ranked 16th, higher than the New York Yankees and both Los Angeles teams among others.

The A’s financial profile is most similar to — you guessed it — the Astros and Royals. Except that, while they’ve been content to dump salaries before the trade deadline, the Astros and the Royals have been aggressive buyers as playoff contenders.

So if the Astros and Royals can pull it off, there’s no reason why the poor old A’s shouldn’t be able to do it, too.

ABOUT TIME: Now that the Tom Brady mess is all but over, the NFL is almost ready to send instructions to game officials and teams that explains the new guidelines for inspection of footballs.

The rules reportedly could include hand-picked game officials who would inspect the 48 footballs for each game at least two hours before kickoff. Pressure readings would be taken for every ball before the game and then again at halftime. Ten minutes before the game, a member of the officiating crew and a security official would bring 12 balls for each team to the field. The other 24 would remain in the officials’ dressing room.

Because the NFL would never want to make up the rules on the fly, you know.

WESTWARD, HO: The Sharks need another playmate. Have for a long time. Their closest rivals are the Los Angeles Kings, some 340 miles to the south. Vancouver is the only team to the immediate north, and it’s closer to Saskatoon than to San Jose.

So isn’t it time for time for the NHL to enter the new millennium and expand westward, something it hasn’t done aggressively since it was a six-team league?

Las Vegas appears to be a lock for an expansion team, even if it is a dice roll to support a pro sports franchise. Seattle would be a much better choice, but investment banker Ray Bartoszek was unable to finalize plans for a privately financed arena before the application deadline last week and didn’t make the required $10 million down payment, $2 million of which was nonrefundable.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and his posse might want to reconsider the deadline, which was moved up three weeks. After short-sighted attempts to sell the game in warm-weather, football-minded cities such as Atlanta and Miami, they need to move in the right direction for a change.

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