Those who ignore history . . .

Chip Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle is miffed that Lew Wolff isn’t even considering Oakland in the effort to get a new stadium for the A’s. Fair enough, even though the economics probably aren’t on his side. But then Johnson trips the light moronic:

In light of the team’s stated unwillingness to even consider another proposal for an Oakland-based stadium, city officials should seek the help of congressional representatives in finding a way to persuade league offices to help find a suitable alternative.

In the absence of that help and the continued unwillingness of team officials to even consider another site in Oakland, the city should follow Cleveland’s suit, and sue for the right to retain the team name and first consideration the next time a ball club wants to change location.

In 1995, the Browns announced their intention to move to Baltimore and a year later, they became the Ravens.

Whether or not Wolff, a developer and businessman, recognizes it, the Athletics baseball team is synonymous with Oakland.

You would think that an editor would require Johnson to at least mention Philadelphia or Kansas City before saying such a thing. Then again, given how unstable things are at the Chron these days, I suppose they’re too busy updating their resumes or applying to law school or something to care.

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  1. lar said...

    That was exactly my thought on this, too, Craig. It seems pretty silly to assert yourself as synonymous with the Athletics when you’re the franchise’s third city.

    But it did make me wonder, what percentage of baseball fans actually know about the KC A’s or Philadelphia A’s? I mean, I count myself as a pretty knowledgable fan, and I still had to check baseball-reference just now to know exactly when the A’s moved from one city to the next (PHI 1901-54, KC 1955-67, OAK 1968 – ?)

  2. pete said...

    I have to ask: Does the Athletics name itself hold that much value in 2009?

    Really, what are the first things the casual baseball fan thinks of when he hears “A’s”? Billy Beane? McGwire? Eckersley? Will those things drive popularity any time in the near future? There’s a ton of tradition behind the name, no doubt, but is Connie Mack going to do anything for the team’s bottom line in, say, Portland? And their logo doesn’t really sell itself, they don’t have a prominent or easy mascot, and their colors are absolutely brutal in terms of casual clothing—you kind of have to know something about the team to want to wear that yellow and green.

    I could see the value if they moved somewhere nearby, like San Jose, but this might actually be a blessing for Wolff if they move somewhere outside of the area.

  3. RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

    Could be the Marketing folks are ready to jump out with a new uniform design to compliment the move to a new city. Or, if they aren’t, maybe they need to be pressed into embracing it as an opportunity to do so, because I’ll concur that the green/yellow uniform is easily the worst in baseball – maybe even in all of professional sports. The Packers use the same colors, but it seems to work much better for them.

  4. APBA Guy said...

    Chip Johnson is the Chron’s Oakland correspondent. His column expresses a sense of events from the view across the Bay. That said, the speculation in other parts of the paper (see Matier & Ross) is that, in fact, Wolff et al are talking to Oakland, but very informally, and with a strong “what’s new?” flavor.

    Bottom line is going to be money: until and if John Fisher, the majority owner, inherits from his father, this ownership cannot build it’s own stadium. Even then, they would not wish too, as the SF ownership can attest, the economics of self-financing are loathsome.

    So which city will pony up? It’s a better strategy to play no public favorites, and to make clear that Oakland, which bent over backward for Al Davis, then treated the A’s previous owners as stepchildren, will have to really come up with something new and significant in terms of site and money. Until that happens, Wolff is all ears to all parties, and why shouldn’t he be?

  5. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Yeah, talk about steeped with history, the Philadelphia A’s had Home Run Baker, Jimmy Fox, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Eddie Collins, Chief Bender and his duel with Christy Mathewson in the 1905 World Series, Eddie Plank, and, of course, Connie Mack.

    I knew roughly the dates, but, of course, living in the Bay Area during that time helped.  I’m not one of those split baseball caps, but I love baseball history and read a lot on the olden days (which increasingly include my youth :^), so I know about the Philly A’s and the players who were their stars.

    Also, the Browns were born in Cleveland, the A’s were brought into Oakland, so it’s not quite the same thing.  Plus, it’s useless to hold onto the A’s name and history if Wolffe ends up moving them to San Jose, which I’ve assumed has been his ultimate goal since he acquired the A’s, as he has helped out or led various efforts by the South Bay to acquire major league sports teams.  If there is a San Jose Silicon Chippies, there will never be another team in Oakland, there is no way baseball would allow 3 teams into this market. 

    I think it’s fair of Wolffe not to give Oakland much consideration.  This stadium issue has been around for nearly 30 years now.  Haas, then Schott, and now Wolffe has been trying to get a stadium built in Oakland and all have failed. 

    And Oakland took a perfectly good baseball stadium and prostituted themselves to the Raiders, creating Mount Davis, and in essence alienating the Oakland A’s.  They only have themselves to blame for that one, maybe if they had expended all that effort that they wasted on Davis (who might end up moving again anyhow) on the team that actually was still there, the A’s, they wouldn’t be in this situation now. 

    And the name of the game, except for SF, has been that cities have to pony up for the goods, the stadium etc., and Oakland hasn’t been able to generate the public will to put together the money that would keep the A’s around. 

    However, I understand why they want to keep them around, civic prestige (hence their over the board efforts to get back da Raiders) and all that. 

    So I think they are wasting their time appealing to Selig (unless their only intent was to generating publicity for their efforts).  If they truly believed that Wolffe was angling to move the A’s to south bay, then they should have been working from the first minute he was announced to cultivate and round up the Oakland civic leaders who are deep pockets and see if they can get the MLB to force Wolffe to sell to a new ownership group who wants to keep the A’s in Oakland and to expend the money necessary to build in Oakland.  The MLB forced Lurie to sell to Magowan’s group, they could have done the same to Wolffe or even Schott, had the Oakland city council been serious about keeping the A’s.  They have had a lot of time but they have wasted it on media positioning and stunts like the letter to Selig, and, in particular, chasing Al Davis (and lining his pockets).

    The fact is that not enough fans support the A’s, in heart or in the seats.  They have their passionate fans, like all clubs do, but they don’t have that base of casual fans that most teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs need to do well.  Heart does not go far without the casual fans.

  6. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Based on the last part of Chip’s column, he doesn’t seem to realize that he seems to be endorsing Philadelphia to hold onto the A’s name and history, and not Oakland.

    The team was born there and their citizens invested a lot into their team, else they would not be around to become the Oakland A’s, they would have faded into obscurity like the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Spiders, and Seattle Pilots.

  7. Mad Bum said...

    No wonder the SF Comical is going out of business.

    Seriously, Oakland is turning into a crime-infested dump once again. It is no longer a major league city. And the Bay Area is only big enough for one team: the Giants!

    The A’s need to move. San Jose will never happen. Las Vegas, Portland or Salt Lake City would be better than Oakland.

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