The Oakland A's beat Seattle on Sunday afternoon to improve their division lead to three games over Texas, 10.5 games ahead of Seattle, 11 clear of the Angels, and 15.5 over Houston. With the win Oakland tied Boston for the best record in AL. After the contest the A's and Mariners received a surprise. Both teams got to take post-game showers in the Raiders locker room because the baseball facilities had sewage leaking into them.
Former Oakland pitcher Mark Mulder tweeted “While there are pipes full of S**t overflowing into the Oak clubhouses---Bud Selig is busy saying --No No the A's don't need a new stadium.”
Mulder is not exactly right. Selig is said to be “studying” the A's stadium situation. He obviously is an incredible student. He formed a committee in 2009 to examine all of Oakland's options.
Fifty-one months later no findings have been announced.
Meanwhile the A's continue to play home games at the Oakland Coliseum. Built in 1966, it is the only stadium left that houses a Major League Baseball and NFL franchise. The sewage problems are not new. To the credit of A's General Manager Billy Beane, Oakland has been a success on the field despite an outdated and barely functioning facility plus major financial limitations. That being said, the issue at hand continues to be the Giants territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
While sites in Oakland have been studied off and on for years, moving the A's to thriving and growing Silicon Valley is the best way to guarantee success. San Jose sits 40 miles south of Oakland and 50 miles south of San Francisco. San Jose is just minutes away from where the 49ers are building their new stadium.
The Giants own the territorial rights to Santa Clara County. This is similar to but not the same as when baseball owned the Montreal Expos and moved them to Washington, about 30 miles from Baltimore. Orioles owner Peter Angelos was concerned about how the value of his team might decrease with the Nationals in DC, and how it would affect the money he could make with TV rights. Because moving the team was in the best interest of baseball, an agreement was struck that allowed the Expos to move and the Orioles to be compensated.
The move from Canada to Washington was good for baseball because they could sell the team, and it was the right decision for the sport. Having a team in a new ballpark where they are likely to succeed was a reasonable decision. The difference in the A's situation is that MLB does not have a vested interest, and the Giants are more stubborn with the territorial rights issue.
When the Giants were on the verge of moving to Tampa Bay because the city of San Francisco refused to buy the team a new ballpark, Peter Magowan's group bought the team, signed Barry Bonds, and privately financed a beautiful new stadium. They deserve all the credit in the world for winning two championships. They have no good reason to yield their territory.
However, if Major League Baseball owned the A's the team would now be in San Jose. Since MLB doesn't have a vested interest in stepping in, there has been no progress on a stadium since the downturn in the economy. At one point a proposed stadium in Fremont, a city of 215,000 situated between Oakland and San Jose, seemed like a possibility. But why build in Fremont, when San Jose, the 10th largest city in the country is eager for a team?
The A's won the AL West last year despite the second smallest payroll in the sport. This year Oakland's on the hook for about $69 million, while division foes Los Angeles and Texas have spent about twice that amount. What sort of team could Beane put together if he wasn't selling players on competing in a stadium with few fans and sewage running into the locker rooms? What if he had revenue coming in that he could spend resigning key players instead of trading them? Maybe we'll know soon. What's 51 months and a little sewage between friends?