Athletics

Kaval: 'Signing the nucleus' of A's young talent will be key for new ballpark

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USATI

Kaval: 'Signing the nucleus' of A's young talent will be key for new ballpark

BOSTON — A’s president Dave Kaval believes the team has the ideal location to build a new ballpark.

He’s also confident the A’s current core of young players will become the seasoned group of veterans that ushers in that new ballpark, which is slated to open for the 2023 season if all goes according to plans the A’s unveiled Wednesday.

“I think the biggest thing you’re going to see, and it’s something (V.P. of baseball ops) Billy (Beane) has talked about, is really signing the nucleus of young players,” Kaval said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re aiming to have them through the arbitration, and even the free agent years. We want to have those players together as a unit as we break ground and then move in.”

Figure that group could include players such as Ryon Healy, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder (who’ll all be eligible for free agency leading into that 2023 season), Matt Chapman (2024) and perhaps others. Those baseball-oriented decisions will come with time. Before they do, Kaval and the A’s have to push the ballpark project down the road from concept to reality.

That’s far from a given. The A’s settled on a site in Oakland currently occupied by the Peralta Community College District headquarters, just off Interstate 880 and down the block from Laney College. They need to negotiate a deal to buy the land; satisfy the concerns of the surrounding business owners and residents near the potential site; complete environmental impact reports; and get construction underway. The A’s don't plan for the first shovel to hit dirt until 2021.

“There’s a long road ahead of us,” Kaval said. “There will be good days and bad days. We’re celebrating and at the same time rolling up the sleeves.”

Though the A’s will be moving from the relative isolation of the Coliseum complex into a more urban setting on the edge of downtown Oakland, they aim to keep the game-day experience similar in some respects.

Many fans are curious about whether there will be areas for tailgating. Kaval says yes: Some in traditional parking lots, some in picnic areas that will be located near parking structures.

“Obviously the space won’t be as big as the Coliseum, but I think we can do it where it can be a win for everybody,” he said, noting that fans will have dining options within walking distance of the new ballpark that don’t exist at the Coliseum.

The nod to some of the franchise’s all-time greats will carry over, with the playing surface at the new venue to be called Rickey Henderson Field as it is now. There’s also the possibility of an A’s Hall of Fame.

As the A’s were considering multiple sites to build around Oakland, one concern over the Peralta/Laney site was a lack of parking in the immediate area. The A’s plan to build parking structures, but Kaval also thinks an advantage of being closer to downtown is that there will be more parking available around the city, and with cars likely to be spread out more, traffic congestion will be lighter.

Weather also played a key role in the A’s choosing Peralta. Candlestick Park-like conditions were feared at Howard Terminal, right on the water. Peralta isn’t subject to the marine layer that can sometimes require fans to bring jackets to Coliseum night games.

“Peralta really was the Goldilocks site with the weather — not too hot, not too cold,” Kaval said.

While still calling the Coliseum home for the next five seasons, the A’s will keep making upgrades to the aging facility as they have in 2017.

“We have a lot of that on tap for next year as well,” Kaval said. “And every year here we’ll continue to do that, to make sure people have a reason to come here now, and to test things (for the new ballpark). We may learn something here.”

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.