Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Hollow Defense

The Mercury's Mark Purdy, consistently one of the most sensible voices in the A's-to-San Jose saga, yet again takes the Giants' Bill Neukom to task for his stonewalling: 

Neukom apparently lives in mortal fear that his team's grip on the locals is so tenuous, every Giants fan south of the county line would immediately become an A's fan if an American League ballpark is built here.

It is such a preposterous notion. It is why, with each passing day, the Giants' territorial claim to the South Bay becomes more difficult to defend.

Political analyst Michael Parenti once quipped that the last thing a capitalist wants is competition. Purdy echoes that sentiment:

All of this must make the Giants very happy. Their claims to the South Bay have always been about business and nothing else, despite Neukom's talk of San Jose being "the heart" of the team's fan base.

When the San Francisco Giants bought majority interest in the San Jose Giants minor league franchise, it was all part of that business plan because Neukom's group would be in position to receive millions if the A's move to the South Bay.

Nothing wrong with any of that. But the Giants should be honest and publicly admit what their strategy's ultimate goal is—which is to have the A's leave the Bay Area entirely.
Though the Giants' defense increasingly rings hollow, their tactics remain not only anti-competitive, but against the spirit of baseball. Indeed, they stand to seriously hurt the sport and its fans. Certainly their treatment of San Jose, as if it's some measly fifedom, is indefensible. San Jose is the A's last best hope in the Bay Area, period. Closing the Athletics' path to Silicon Valley only opens up another—and it leads out of state. The  Giants can have their World Series trophy, but that can't have that.
    You're up to bat, San Jose!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Giants Just Can't Seem to Let Go

Yesterday former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery spoke with KGO Newstalk 810 radio host Ronn Owens about bringing the Athletics to San Jose. Tom made no secret of being a Giants fan, so much so that he can even name the starting lineup for the 1962 Giants World Series team. Like many fans in the South Bay though, Tom is frustrated with the Giants attempts to prevent an Athletics move to San Jose, saying:

“What really strikes me is the selfish attitude of the Giants towards their fans in San Jose. We’ve bled with them through June swoons and October surprises and we’ve been loyal to them and it’s not like we wouldn’t be Giants fans anymore.”

Spot-on Tom! These are sentiments shared by many fans in San Jose, but at the end of the day we all just want what’s best for our city and the Athletics, who really have very few options left for them in the Bay Area.

The Giants seem to have forgotten that in the 90’s when they were in need of a new stadium and were looking to San Jose, the Athletics gave up their rights to Santa Clara County to support them. As it is, the Giants did eventually get their new stadium and unless our geography is off, it’s in San Francisco some 50 miles north of San Jose. So it's time they give up their "rights" to Santa Clara County and release San Jose from its servitude so that we can determine our own path.

It's not as if two teams haven't been able to co-exist successfully in the same market. In Major League Baseball there are currently 3 markets that are doing it. One way or another, can we just get a decision already? Tom sure thinks so:

"Make a decision Commissioner Selig and it ought to be a very simple one. You have 3 other 2 market teams. The market ought to be shared and lets have a competition and lets see the best team rise to the top."

If anybody can appreciate competition it should be Mr. Neukom who obtained his wealth working at Microsoft. Then again, maybe not.

For the full Tom McEnery interview with Ronn Owens click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not So Fast!

It seems that San Jose is making good on its promise to fight Governor Brown's plan to seize redevelopment funds. Tonight, the SJRDA and City Council moved swiftly to safeguard their assets. The Mercury reports: 

Fearing a decision to disband redevelopment agencies statewide might occur within days, the councilwhich acts as the agency's board of directorsvoted unanimously to give San Jose agency chief Harry Mavrogenes the authority to negotiate and execute any agreements for agency projects that had previously been signed off by the council. ... The vote also included agreements related to the agency's recent offer to sell six downtown parcels as a way to raise funds to complete a proposed ballpark site.

Not surprisingly, the SJRDA—the second largest redevelopment agency in California—is not alone in its efforts. Other agencies across the state are scrambling to secure their funds before Sacramento comes knocking. Nonetheless, San Jose, just two parcels away from completing its ballpark puzzle, remains in a strong position. If anything, the Governor's misguided proposal has only illustrated the city's skillful pursuit of the A's. San Jose remains on solid ground because of its unwavering commitment to bring the A's to town. That should be clear to not only MLB, but those who doubt that baseball can flourish in Silicon Valley. Now, there can be no doubt that San Jose has always been in it to win it.  

You're up to bat, San Jose! 

Do it the Raider Way

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more difficult, Oakland is now being confronted with the possibility of losing their NFL team. It was reported yesterday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has asked the Raiders to look into building a shared stadium with the 49ers.

As you know, last year Santa Clara voters approved the 49ers building a stadium near Great America, so it’s unlikely a shared stadium would be built in Oakland. However, at his press conference to announce the hiring of a new coach, Raiders owner Al Davis said that while the team needs a new stadium, sharing one with the 49ers was not something he is considering at this point. He also said that he is still interested in pursuing options in Oakland at the site of their current home, the Coliseum.

We here at Baseball San Jose would like to applaud Al Davis for his continued commitment to Oakland and encourage the city to do whatever it takes to make a new stadium for the Raiders happen. We understand the difficulty the city might have building two stadiums for their professional sports teams given these trying economic times, further exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding redevelopment agencies across the state. So, in the spirit of being a good neighbor we will happily help to take some of this burden off their shoulders and graciously accept the Athletics move to our city, San Jose.

Oakland has always had a preference for the Raiders anyway, having built a monument in honor of the team’s owner, aptly named “Mount Davis”.

In doing so they turned the Coliseum into a dreadful eyesore that has driven baseball fans away and made it extremely difficult for the Athletics to sign and/or retain quality talent. In a show of lesser enthusiasm for the Athletics, when in 2006 an ownership group led by Lew Wolff purchased the team they tried for 2 ½ years to work with the city on a new stadium plan, to no avail.

Oakland’s affinity for the Raiders is understandable since they bring with them the Raiderettes, an enthusiastic fan base and really cool team colors (Silver and Black). All the Athletics bring to the table is a really drab General Manager with an upcoming movie for which in an effort to make him more interesting had to be portrayed by Brad Pitt.

So Oakland, don’t let this opportunity pass you by, focus time and resources on keeping the Raiders in town. It would be unfortunate for you to try and spread yourself thin and then end up losing both of your professional teams, particularly since one of them wants to be there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Case You Missed It

On Friday news broke that Athletics owner Lew Wolff was interested in purchasing two parcels put up for sale by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency in their effort to raise money to complete the land acquisition for a downtown ballpark. The specific parcels are those linked to the Fairmont Hotel, for which Wolff owns: the 440-space garage under the hotel and the hotel’s annex retail area. It seems however that Lew isn’t the only one interested in the land purchase, so we will just have to wait and see. Click here for the full Mercury News story.

In other news, reports surfaced over the weekend that Oakland has more on their mind than just the Athletics. It seems that their Chief of Police Anthony Batts is a finalist for the same position in, yes you guessed it, San Jose. A final decision won’t be made until sometime in February, but could it be Oakland will get “the one-two” courtesy of San Jose should Bud Selig finally come out with a decision?

On the field, the Athletics continue to bolster their pitching staff with the recent acquisitions of Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes. It seems they are all in for the 2011 season spending money to put together a team able to compete for the American League West title. While they have come up short in signing a big bat, it seems alternatively they will follow the example of their Bay Area rivals the Giants by winning with strong pitching. Given the Coliseums reputation for not being a hitter friendly ballpark, it seems they could have a pretty good season instore.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Must Have Been a Slow News Day

You might have read yesterday that Athletics owner Lew Wolff might be interested in purchasing the Los Angles Dodgers. Well, despite the excitement that ESPN's Buster Olney created when he wrote about it in his column, let it be known that it was only speculation most likely generated around this being the off-season and there not being much else to write about. This isn't a knock on Buster, whose diligent reporting we appreciate, just a fact.

More interesting to Bay Area baseball fans would be the news coming out of Arizona that Pablo Sandoval has dropped 17 pounds from his 5'11 frame. Great work Pablo, Jillian Michaels would be proud. Though Jason Turbow from The Bay Citizen isn't impressed.

Anyway, in case you are still concerned that Lew is abandoning all hope of moving the Athletics to San Jose and is headed to Los Angles, fear not. In a statement released by the Athletics, they simply said:

"There is no truth to this report. Mr. Wolff has no interest whatsoever in purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. Furthermore, he has no knowledge of the source of any such rumor, and he has informed Major League Baseball and Dodgers ownership of his position."

So, with that being settled let's keep our eye's on the prize and focus on bringing the A's to San Jose.

With that said, it seems the news that the San Jose Redevelopment Agency plans to sell land to buy up the remaining property for a stadium downtown is all the buzz on the internet. Well at least according to the Google alert we created. At some point Commissioner Selig has to recognize that San Jose is in the best position to support the Athletics needs for a new a stadium. So hurry up already and make a decision.

On a parting note, Baseball San Jose would like to wish the all-time save leader Trevor Hoffman the best of luck as he ventures into another chapter of his life having announced his retirement today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Redevelopment Agencies Sac'd

Monday, Governor Brown did what many had suspected, he pushed for the abolishment of the state's 400 redevelopment agencies. Clearly, this would have far-reaching implications for Californian cities. As San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed told the Mercury, "The governor appears not to understand how job creation and job growth happen at the local level, because he is preparing to take away the most important tools we have." Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was equally adamant. He told the Los Angeles Times that his city would do its part but "any scenario that would completely eliminate the redevelopment zones ... is a non-starter." Indeed, if Brown gets his way this summer, his plan could could have a devastating effect on a number of projects around the state, from transit villages to convention centers to road improvements.

So, where does this leave San Jose and its efforts to build Cisco Field?

First, keep in mind that just how the governor will do this is unclear, especially in light of the recently passed Prop. 22; that proposition prohibits Sacramento from raiding the funds of local municipalities. Additionally, San Jose has already pledged to fight the governor and, at least at this point, it seems unlikely that Brown's target date of July is feasible.

As for the remaining parcels surrounding the proposed Cisco Field, the SJRDA announced last week that it would sell some of its properties to pay for the remaining land. And should even that fall through, A's owner Lew Wolff would likely step in to buy the remaining property himself. In short, San Jose remains in a strong position to land the A'sregardless of Sacramento's antics.

The same cannot be said of Oakland, who only recently got serious about keeping the A's; that city just began its own EIR (a one-to-two year process) and has purchased none of the dozens of properties in its ballpark plan. As NBC Bay Area's Mike Anderson put it, "In December, the Oakland city council approved spending $750,000 on an environmental impact study for a 39,000-seat stadium at Victory Square ... The move kept Oakland in the game as an option, but the study might be as far as the city gets." The East Bay Express' Robert Gammon agrees.

So, stay the course, Silicon Valley. You're closer than you think to the San Jose A's.

You're up to bat, San Jose!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Whose Territory Is This?

It seems territorial rights in San Jose aren’t just a Major League Baseball issue, but an NBA one too. If you haven’t heard, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently tried to purchase the New Orleans Hornets and speculation was that if successful (the NBA actually ended up with the winning bid) he would move the team to San Jose.

This however didn’t sit well with Warriors owner Joseph Lacob, who as you might recall along with Peter Guber last year, paid $450 million for the team out bidding Larry Ellision. As the San Jose Mercury News reported yesterday:

Lacob also seemed to suggest that he would not be eager to share that market with another team. "We bought the Golden State Warriors; that is, the NBA team of Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, the Bay Area," he wrote.

"We feel that we paid a full but fair price for THAT opportunity."

No doubt Larry Ellison wants an NBA team and usually what Larry wants Larry gets, which is pretty easy for a guy worth $28 billion. So what exactly would it take for him to get his hands on an NBA team and then move them to San Jose?

Well, despite the New Orleans Hornets having been bought by the NBA the expectation is that they will sell the team again, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be to a local ownership group. No doubt the NBA would like to make some money on their investment and who better to tap than the sixth richest person in world. Not to mention the team in New Orleans just isn’t pulling the expected attendance and is facing a dire need to generate revenue to cover long-term debt of $111 million, it seems a change of venue might be just what’s needed.

Now of course even if Larry were able to buy the team, he still would have to deal with a less than enthusiastic Warriors ownership concerned with sharing the Bay Area market with another team. Not to worry, as it would only cost Larry a $150 million “relocation fee”. If taken off the price paid last year for the Warriors, it seems that paying $300 million dollars for an NBA franchise would be a bargain.

We will just have to wait and see how the drama unfolds, which at Baseball San Jose is something we have become accustomed to so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to 2011

At Baseball San Jose we are excited for the new year and have a renewed energy as we cross our fingers for a decision by Major League Baseball on territorial rights (hopefully for lifting them) and then a subsequent election to determine once and for all whether the Athletics will make San Jose their new home.

As we saw at the end of the year, Oakland continues to make a push to keep the team in their city, so more than ever we need to keep building support in our community to show the Athletics and Major League Baseball that we are still excited and eager for the team to move south.

If you haven’t already, please follow Baseball San Jose on Facebook and Twitter and make sure to pass the word along to your friends and family to do so as well. We will continue to keep you updated on happenings around San Jose supporting efforts to bring the A’s here.