Athletics

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

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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.

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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."

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Buster Posey took several days of Giants training camp to deal with what was termed a personal issue. It turns out he spent that time weighing whether to play baseball this season during an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Posey announced Friday that he would opt out and explained exactly why. Turns out he has a damn good reason.

His family adopted two twin girls born July 3 at just 32 weeks. They are in the NICU now and Posey said they will be in a particularly vulnerable state for at least four months. That’s more than the entire 2020 MLB season, even if everything goes right.

Posey made an easy decision, the right one.

That’s clear to most, including A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“In his case, I don’t know why you would want to play with what’s going on there,” Melvin said in a Friday video conference. “Each guy looks at it a little differently, so I’m not surprised that some have opted out. I’m certainly not surprised about Buster, now knowing the whole story.”

While most are supportive of easy choices like Posey’s or the less straightforward, detractors have proven vocal even in a decided minority.

A’s relief pitcher Jake Diekman has a higher risk for complications if he contracts COVID-19 due to a pre-existing condition but chose to play the season. The team is cognizant of that while strictly adhering to health and safety protocols during training camp.

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Whether someone chooses to play or not, Melvin says, that player will receive backing from around the sport.

“Whoever decides to opt out will be fully supported,” Melvin said. “There’s a lot at stake right now. It’s easy once you’re out on the field and it feels great again and everyone likes playing, but the underlying factor and issues are still there. If there’s somebody who has reservations, whether it’s Jake, who says he doesn’t have any, will be fully supported and I don’t think they’ll be criticized by the baseball community.”

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

Matt Chapman’s always one to raise the bar. His personal and team goals continue to elevate, even after the A’s won 97 games, he hit 36 home runs and added another platinum glove.

Those achievements are awesome in a vacuum, though losing in the A.L. wild-card game (again) and a late-season offensive slump shows room for improvement for the stacked A’s and their All-Star third baseman.

Putting it all together could mean a World Series title and an MVP award, or an offensive season for the ages at the very least.

That last part, of course, assumes a 162-game season. Numbers don’t mean the same thing in a 60-game season. Chapman, therefore, has to look at his stat line differently.

“The main goal is to stay healthy, stay on the field and then just take good at bats and do my part,” Chapman said. “I’m not going to put too much stress on the season because two months is such a small sample size. If you don’t start well, your numbers are never going to be what you want them to be. I’m hopefully not going to dig into that too much. I know that’s easy to say now, but I want to focus on the team and keep guys healthy. Hopefully we can do that and just win. Our focus should be health and making the playoffs.”

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Collectively, the A’s are focusing on winning as many games as possible in a condensed season where every game is magnified.

“I think that, from a team standpoint, the goals are still the same: win as much as we can and stress getting off to a good start,” Chapman said. “That’s extremely important now. That was our focus coming out of the spring training beforehand, but that especially key now. You can win and lose a season in two weeks it seems like, in this short schedule. You can’t fall too far behind. On the other side of it, you could also jump out to a good lead. It’s exciting because it seems like every game is going to be a playoff game.”

Chapman doesn’t have much time to ramp for this condensed 60-game season, which is now two weeks away. He has voiced displeasure over the A’s inability to start workouts at the earliest possible date, but is now focused on maximizing opportunities he has. That doesn’t mean he’s working too hard, as he and the A’s position players might have when they were finally allowed to start camp.

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It’s about working smarter in the time allotted.

“The biggest thing for me is getting quality reps and not worrying about the quantity so much and trying to play catch-up,” Chapman said. “I don’t need a million swings to get ready. I need quality swings and to avoid tiring yourself out because, when it does start, it’ll be a sprint. You can’t jam a ton into every day. We have to be smart and, right around that two-week mark [of camp], we’ll be in a good spot.”