We'll have to wait a while longer to see baseball games being played.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that Opening Day would be pushed back at least two weeks due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Spring training games also were canceled immediately in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
As the world focuses on much more pressing matters, the A's time in Arizona might soon be forgotten. With that said, the A's were winning a lot of games down there. In fact, prior to the cancelation, the team had the best record in the Cactus League.
Yes, these games don't count, but the A's held a 14-8 spring training record before the new policy was put forth, good for a .636 winning percentage. They were in "first place" in the Cactus League, slightly ahead of the San Diego Padres (18-11 with a .621 winning percentage).
Spring games are a time for pitchers to master any specialty pitches they might have, or for hitters to get stronger and tighten anything that needs to be worked on as they slowly get back into game routines. We shouldn't take too much stock into the record. But it's always better to be winning games, right?
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With Opening Day being postponed, we will have to see just how much these numbers might percolate into the regular season, whenever it begins.
One does not easily earn the "Voice of God" moniker, but when it came to Roy Steele, nothing else would do.
The long-time public address announcer for the A's passed away Thursday at his home in Auburn, leaving behind a tremendous legacy as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the game. The A's released a team statement acknowledging his vast contributions to the history of the franchise.
"As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball," the statement said. "Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."
Steele began his tenure as the A's PA announcer starting in 1968 and remained in the position through 2005, though he did make occasional appearances during the 2007-08 season. He covered over 3,000 A's games, including six World Series and an All-Star Game. Throughout his 38 years at the helm, he only missed five days of work.
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His death comes during a sad week for the Oakland franchise. On Sunday, Chester Farrow, who operated the scoreboard at the Coliseum for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 77.
Whenever MLB resumes, one would imagine both longtime employees will be honored.
The A's have publicly said they plan to open a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal ahead of the 2023 season.
Those plans could be delayed.
An A's spokesperson admitted to The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Thursday that the team "might have to push back" their targeted opening date. Ostler wrote that "growing political and logistical hurdles," "[coronavirus]-related delays" and a recent federal court ruling could endanger the 2023 target, as could a recent federal court ruling.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Oakland's ban on transporting coal through the city in a two-to-one ruling Tuesday. The Sierra Club told Bay Area News Group that there are plans to file another appeal, as they and community leaders have argued that coal dust would add to West Oakland's polluted air. Howard Terminal, which already requires environmental certification before the A's can ever begin construction, is fewer than two miles downwind from the site where Utah coal companies planned to transport coal prior to the city's now-struck-down ban.
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A's owner John Fisher, who Forbes currently estimates has a net worth of $2.1 billion, announced in a letter to fans Tuesday that the team would cease paying minor leaguers a weekly $400 stipend starting in June and that the team had "implemented a significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members who are not furloughed."
The A's previously said in a statement to NBC Sports California earlier this month that they deferred their annual $1.25 million rent payment for use of the Oakland Coliseum because the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" during the coronavirus pandemic." Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, told Bay Area News Group that the A's told the stadium authority they "had no ability to pay."