Athletics

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

insidehowardballpark.jpg
Oakland A's

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

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.

[RELATED: Why Braden vehemently opposes MLB's proposal to players]

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."

A's Mark Canha ahead of the game when it comes to playing with a mask

A's Mark Canha ahead of the game when it comes to playing with a mask

Mark Canha came to Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday and found a new face mask in his locker. Most everyone was given one, but it certainly wasn’t a standard issue. Not with its design.

Someone made masks that looked like Mike Fiers’ face when he had rocked that swirling facial hair design on Sept. 14, 2019 against the Texas Rangers.

Canha suspects Fiers himself.

The A’s outfielder tried it on, fully intent on wearing it for a workout. He ultimately, however, went against joining Bob Melvin and Sean Manaea in a Fiers facemask.

“I was excited about them, but the comfort level wasn’t there for me,” Canha said Wednesday afternoon in a conference call. “It was ill-fitting, so I didn’t wear it out there, but I wanted to.”

It’s not like Canha is anti-mask. Quite the opposite in fact. He wears them when he should in public and in communal areas of Oakland Coliseum now that baseball’s getting back to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

He wore one well before it was required for anything but warmth. Canha has worn a type of ski mask on colder nights, even in the East Bay when it’s not completely frigid. He even wrote a poem about it last year. 

“You know how cold it gets at night here, so now nobody will make fun of me on social media for wearing it when it’s 65 degrees out,” Canha said. “I have a good excuse.”

It sounds like Canha could often wear a mask while playing defense this season, though it might not be as consistent at the plate.

“When I do wear the mask at night, I typically wear it at the plate,” Canha said. “On hot day games, that’s a different situation. It will be a feel thing. If it’s super-hot, it’s hard to wear a mask, especially if we’re in L.A. or something. You want to be able to breathe and you get sweaty, so it can be uncomfortable.”

[RELATED: Semien doing his part to keep A's safe during pandemic]

Canha definitely understands the importance of MLB’s health and safety protocols. It’s something the A’s discussed on Tuesday, and they all seem to be in lockstep about following the letter of the law.

“We had a meeting yesterday and talked about having a high-risk guy on our team in Jake Diekman and we have guys with families,” Canha said. “We talk about how we have to keep it in mind that there’s a bigger picture beyond playing baseball. At the same time, on the baseball side of it, we have to make sure we stay healthy so we have all of our players in the lineup. … When you talk about kids and families and the bigger picture of what’s going on, I think everyone is respectful of that.”

A's players hilariously sport Mike Fiers' unique facial hair with masks

A's players hilariously sport Mike Fiers' unique facial hair with masks

We all know what Mike Fiers is known for -- his facial hair. Other things too, sure, but that’s not what this blog is about. 

This particular beard -- or mustache, whatever it was -- that Fiers sported during a game last season was such a hit, they sported it at A’s workouts on Wednesday in the form of a face covering:

During A’s media day in January, I asked him about this "unique" facial hair he briefly sported against the Texas Rangers back on Sept. 14. Was it a cinnamon roll? The letter “G?” Well, he ultimately told NBC Sports California it was a cattail. 

And why did he do it? Well the answer was simple: It’s a long season and he wanted to make his teammates laugh. That’s it. 

“It just helps the guys in the clubhouse, just keeps it light,” he told us. And a quick Google search later, there it was, in all its glory. 

Nevertheless, the beard obviously made its mark known.

[RELATED: How Fiers rewarded Profar, Laureano for saving no-hitter]

Pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas joined manager Bob Melvin during Wednesday’s workouts in sporting the face covering, complete with the infamous cattail. Montas posted a photo of him rocking it on his Instagram story on Wednesday much to Fiers’ delight. Plus, Manaea said he wanted to spruce up the face masks to wear this season which should do the trick in this case.

Having fun while maintaining MLB’s safety protocols -- you love to see it.