Athletics

A's newfound leverage has limits and Libby Schaaf can take a punch

A's newfound leverage has limits and Libby Schaaf can take a punch

John Fisher has shown admirable restraint so far as he contemplates life without the Oakland Raiders in his craw. For one, he hasn’t jumped up and down on Libby Schaaf’s desk and demand that the Oakland mayor take care of the only team she ever has to worry about ever again.

Then again, that might just be prudence on his part. In her present frame of mind, she might take such an opportunity to punch him about 35 times directly in the throat.

Schaaf’s strategy to keep the National Football League from steamrolling her worked, though it came with far more irritation at the end of the process than she thought. She learned face-first that dealing with the NFL means being attacked on all fronts, including the demonstrably false fronts tossed up at the end. She may have thought foolishly that the NFL could be somehow persuaded to see Oakland's rationale for keeping the team, but found out just how well the NFL does dismissive. Frankly, she looked Monday like she’d just had a marathon run over her.

This is not an attempt at sympathy, mind you. She’s a politician in a major American city, and she knew the job was dangerous when took it.

But now that the A’s are the last turkey in the shop, it would be good for Fisher and his new public face, Dave Kaval, to take great care not to push the city too hard. Their leverage has limits, and Schaaf, having punched the NFL to a draw by refusing to budge from his original stadium proposal, knows she can take a punch.

Also, she knows that the A’s don’t have the options the Raiders had. In short, her first offer is likely to be damned close to her last offer, because she just showed that she can do that.

In other words, the A’s have only that leverage the mayor will allow them, and will have to be happy that for the first time ever, they have no impediments between them and a new stadium save their own abilities to achieve them.

You see, the A’s new stadium has been painted as a privately financed operation, and even though there is actually no such thing (the Giants got city money for infrastructure and security when they built PacSBC&TT Park, and never forget that), that’s what it has to remain.

Oakland is trying to guide the A’s toward the Howard Terminal site with all its come-hither stares, but would tolerate Brooklyn Basin or the Coliseum. The A’s want something that allows them to cash in on the land around the stadium (shops, eateries, drinkeries, strip clubs, tattoo parlors, etc.). That much is easily done.

After that, though, Fisher and Kaval need to understand that as one of the few mayors in the nation who gave and held to a take-it-or-leave-it proposal the NFL hated at the start, middle and end, Schaaf has some steel in her spine, and now has the experience to wield it. They push too hard at their peril.

Not because they can be forced from the city, but because they could be left in the Coliseum well beyond their four-year revenue sharing window. At that point, any losses are real-money losses, and any profits come at the expense of the product.

In short, the stadium is the A’s project alone, and though Fisher and Kaval know that and have said all the right things in mind, the temptation to poke the wasp hive of public money may be too much to decline. The smart move is to accept that they are the last team standing, Oaklandically speaking, but not to assume too much beyond that.

The A’s should view this opportunity as theirs and theirs alone. They should also view as an opportunity with limits, because the undertold story about the Raiders’ move is that Schaaf lost almost no approval rating points during the process. She made it clear that the city’s commitment to the Raiders was finite and its interest in letting the NFL turn the Coliseum into the Oklahoma Land Rush was a non-starter, and she stuck to her guns with the only cost being her exasperation level late in the process. Frankly, she might have been better off announcing on Day One that any NFL official entering the city limits would be summarily jailed, jail the first one and then dare them to send any more.

That would have been the pure Oakland play.

As for the A’s, their pure Oakland play is to own the town with their deeds. A stadium built on their own dime that people want to see, and a team with talent and attitude that makes the stadium worth having.

A's notes: Oakland finds wild new way to walk off Twins

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USATSI

A's notes: Oakland finds wild new way to walk off Twins

OAKLAND — The A’s are so close they can taste it. After a Tampa Bay loss and a second straight win over the Minnesota Twins, Oakland is within a single game of clinching an American League playoff spot. 

Like most nights for Oakland, the 3-2 win came in dramatic fashion: Stephen Piscotty scored off of a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. 

--- Quality Start, Quality Starter: In a season where the A’s have struggled to keep arms glued onto their pitchers, Mike Fiers has been a revelation. Since coming over from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 6, the 33-year-old starter is 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA. He didn’t get the win Saturday, but he was in line for it when he came out after six innings. It’s the fifth quality start for Fiers in an A’s uniform, and he’s allowed three runs or fewer in all but one game in green and gold. 

--- Shutting it Down: Blake Treinen improved to 9-2 on the season with a league-best 0.81 ERA (minimum 12 innings pitched). He’s added another 37 saves and stuck out a blistering 96 batters in 77.1 innings pitched. On the downside, Treinen gave up a two-out single in the ninth to Willians Astudillo, ending his hitless streak after 13.1 innings. 

--- Just Walk Off: Oakland has made habit out of the dramatic this season. This was the A's 10th walk-off win of the year, but first on a wild pitch since April 26, 1997. On that day, Damon Mashore scored the winning run to beat the Kansas City Royals 7-6 in the 11th.  With the win, the A’s moved to 33 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 24, 2003.

--- Just Walk Away:  The Twins can’t catch a break. With another defeat in the final at-bat, the Twins have now fallen victim to a walk-off loss 15 times this season. It ties a club record set in 1964 for the most walk-off losses in a single season. 

--- Held at Home: Oakland came into the night having scored seven or more runs in eight straight home games. Over the stretch, the A’s scored 76 runs, averaging an impressive 9.5 runs per game at the Coliseum. They had a few chances to bust the game open on Saturday, but the Twins staff held them in check for most of the evening. The eight-game stretch was the longest in Athletics history. 

--- Best in Baseball: Since June 16, the A’s have the best record in baseball at 60-25. The Red Sox are second at 57-27.

A's magic number down to one after walk-off win on wild pitch

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AP

A's magic number down to one after walk-off win on wild pitch

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- And then it was one.

The upstart A’s moved a step closer to the American League playoffs Saturday night with their 3-2 walk-off, wild-pitch win over the Minnesota Twins. Paired with a Tampa Bay Rays loss, Oakland’s magic number is down to just a single game with seven games remaining in the season.

Mike Fiers took the hill and gave skipper Bob Melvin another quality start. The 33-year-old veteran opened the first by striking out the side and finished the night yielding one earned run on four hits. Fiers struck out five in six innings of action. 

Oakland’s bats were slow to start, but shortstop Marcus Semien blasted a two-run shot off starter Chase De Jong in the fifth inning for his 13th homer of the season. The shot gave Oakland a 2-1 lead, but the lead was short-lived.

Jeurys Familia came into the game for Fiers in the seventh and didn’t fare well. After getting the leadoff hitter to ground out to short, he allowed a double down the left-field line to Ehire Adrianza, and then gave up the tying run on a single to left by Willians Astudillo. 

Ryan Buchter came in to get the final out of the seventh. He walked Jorge Polanco to lead off the eighth, but picked him off first for the first out and then retired Jake Cave on a lazy fly ball to left. 

With two outs in the eighth, Bob Melvin turned to Fernando Rodney. He walked his first batter, but got out of the inning unscathed. 

Matt Chapman led off the eighth with a single through the left side of the infield. Jed Lowrie pounded a single up the middle to give the A’s runners at first and second with no outs. 

Khris Davis missed a golden opportunity for Oakland, hitting into a 5-4-3 double-play. Chapman advanced to third on the play, but was left stranded when Matt Olson was robbed of a hit by shortstop Jorge Polanco.  

In typical fashion, Blake Treinen cut through the Twins in the ninth, lowering his league-leading ERA to just 0.81. 

Stephen Piscotty roped a double down the line to lead off the ninth. Ramón Laureano struck out for the first out of the inning, but Semien’s hot shot to short was bobbled, allowing Piscotty to advance. 

After an intentional walk to Matt Joyce to load the bases, Mark Canha battled, but struck out in an 11-pitch at bat.

On the next pitch, Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger skipped a ball to the plate against Chapman. It got past Astudillo, allowing Piscotty to come in for the winning run. It was the first time since April 26, 1997 that the A’s won on a wild pitch. 

What’s Next

Trevor Cahill takes the bump for Oakland for a 1:05 p.m. start Sunday afternoon. Cahill hasn’t pitched since Sept. 9 due to a back strain. He is 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 starts at home this season. Kyle Gibson is scheduled to start the final game of the series for Minnesota. The righty is 8-13 on the season with a 3.78 ERA.