So the A’s have picked their site for a new stadium, and the neighbors are pissed.
And the surprise is . . . well, I’m waiting.
And no, this isn’t about the old “you can’t get anything done in California” cliché, or the “those baseball bullies don’t care about regular people” canard. It is okay to assume, at least this once, that at least for the first two days everyone is expressing themselves sincerely and honestly.
There. That moment’s done.
It is, however, more telling that the A’s are giving themselves six years rather than the traditional three – almost as if they are banking on the neighborhood, the politics and the general difficulty of horning into someone else’s place to equal the time spent on construction.
By selecting a target of April 2023, the A’s are going to go at least three years fully naked, as in without the cloak of revenue sharing, in the old concrete graveyard on 66th. They are relying on this roster rebuild being accomplished with minimal failures along the way, because they’ll need a bridge to the new building with a new team that people want to see, in a town that has become accustomed to avoiding the charms of daily baseball.
It also increases the chance that owner John Fisher, whom you never see, and president Dave Kaval, who you always see, will get frustrated at the sluggardly pace of developments and apply for relocation with Major League Baseball -- the same way the Flames are trying to threaten Calgary with Seattle or Quebec City because the city won't kick in on a $1.4 billion arena.
This is mostly tinfoil hat stuff – there is no indication that baseball is any more eager to do the A’s a solid than they were when Lew Wolff was running point – but the Warriors ended up needing six years to complete their bloodless colonization of Mission Bay because they underestimated the power of a citizenship scorned. In that way, six years is the new three.
Frankly, if I were Kaval, I’d spend every day between now and the end of the season sitting in a storefront at 8th and Alice with a sign that says, “Ask Me Why The A’s Are Good For The Neighborhood.” If it has to be while sitting on a dunking chair filled with gravy, then that’s how it has to be. He is the supplicant here, and he needs to do the thing rich folks usually hate doing – he has to take the knee to regular folks until his cartilage and tendons burst into flames.
He has to act like the A’s didn’t declare their divine right to the Laney site, but just expressed a preference that they are willing to back away from if, as happened in San Francisco, they get told no.
But at least he has six years of abuse from strangers and snark from vile media types ahead of him, if that’s any consolation.