Athletics

Past year takes A's ballpark search right back where it started

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AP

Past year takes A's ballpark search right back where it started

Last January, the A’s hosted FanFest at Jack London Square for the first time in many years.

What an experiment it was.

As fans mingled with players and stood in line for autographs that day, drones flew overhead capturing images of traffic flow on the streets and foot traffic all around Jack London Square.

It served as a testing ground should the A’s have decided to build a ballpark at nearby Howard Terminal, which, 12 months ago, seemed like a strong possibility.

Just a little has happened since then.

The A’s chose the Peralta site, near Laney College and downtown, where they wanted to build in Oakland. Not Howard Terminal or the Coliseum site itself. They made the Peralta announcement in September, complete with a timeline for construction and a date for the grand opening.

You know how that went. The Peralta Community College District governing board pulled the plug on the A’s ballpark plans, citing concerns for Laney students as well as the surrounding community. The A’s were left fuming.

So it’s back to the drawing board for them. And here we are, a year later, and FanFest 2018 approaches. Once again, it will be held at Jack London Square, a free event set for Jan. 27 that will include a majority of A’s players and coaches in attendance.

The A’s hunt for a ballpark location, a Bay Area storyline for more than a decade now, couldn’t be any murkier. Do they re-visit the Coliseum as a potential spot? Could talks eventually be revived with the Peralta folks? Does FanFest once again give the A’s a reason to re-consider Howard Terminal? Could it be they look outside Oakland, or might owner John Fisher sell to a group that does?

The A’s have been silent on stadium talk since the Peralta plans fell through in early December. On Tuesday, they’ll host a media tour of their new office headquarters — which happen to be located at Jack London Square. (Don’t read too much into this in regard to the A’s ballpark intentions moving forward. They planned this location for their offices even when they thought their ballpark would be at Peralta).

Perhaps A’s president Dave Kaval will take Tuesday as an opportunity to provide an update on the team’s thinking in regard to a new venue.

But it’s amazing to think how this saga has played out over the past calendar year. And how, when it comes down to it, absolutely nothing has changed.

Mike Fiers: 'I'm not doing anything right,' after ERA balloons to 8.28

Mike Fiers: 'I'm not doing anything right,' after ERA balloons to 8.28

OAKLAND – Mike Fiers was supposed to be the A's ace.

He certainly looked the part last season, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA after coming over from Detroit in early August. This year, however, has been a completely different story.

The Blue Jays treated Fiers like a punching bag Saturday afternoon, knocking the veteran right-hander around for six earned runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings en route to a 10-1 victory at the Coliseum. Fiers has now allowed six earned runs in each of his last three starts and his season ERA has ballooned to 8.28.

"It's tough right now," said a dejected Fiers after Saturday's loss. "I'm just not doing anything right. That's what it feels like. For the team to be as good as we are, it's tough. It's a tough feeling to go out there and feel like you just make it harder for them every day."

The A's couldn't have seen this coming when they signed Fiers to a two-year, $14.1 million contract this offseason. The 33-year-old was coming off the best year of his career, finishing 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA between Detroit and Oakland.

"He pitched really well for us last year," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We signed him for a reason. He's going through a rough stretch right now, but we fully expect him to go out and pitch better next time."

After an inauspicious season debut in Tokyo against the Mariners, Fiers appeared to right the ship with back-to-back outings of six innings and no earned runs. But in his three starts since then, he has surrendered 18 earned runs in just 10 innings, giving up 23 hits, including five home runs. 

"I honestly don't know," Fiers said. "I'm kind of confused on what's going on and why I'm not getting the job done. But I'm going to come to the ballpark tomorrow and I'm going to work hard and get back to how I pitch."

Fiers seemed to be rolling along through the first two innings Saturday, retiring the first six batters he faced. He gave up a run in the third and then came the disastrous fourth. Single, single, home run, home run, double. In the blink of an eye, Toronto had blown the game wide open.

"Just some balls in the middle of the plate and up," Melvin said. "There's always a fine line with him on what's up and kind of his style and where he pitches, whether it's the top of the strike zone or a little bit lower. He got some balls in the middle of the plate and they hit them hard."

[RELATED: Ex A's 2B Sogard brings 'nerd power' back to Oakland]

While it's still early in the season, Fiers knows he has to get back on track as soon as possible. At the moment, he doesn't have any answers, but he vows to find them.

"I'm going to keep working," he promised. "I'm going to keep practicing every day, working on my pitches, working on things I'm doing wrong. But I need to figure it out pretty quick."

A's Stephen Piscotty calls out fan who ran on field, tried to steal hat

A's Stephen Piscotty calls out fan who ran on field, tried to steal hat

There were a lot of runs Saturday at Oakland Coliseum, and not just by the A's and Toronto Blue Jays.

More running came from two fans who thought it'd be a good idea to interrupt the Blue Jays' 10-1 win by taking a stroll across the field.

It wasn't.

In the middle of the game, one fan made his best attempt to run on the field -- because, unfortunately, that's how people prank these days. It did not go well when he tried to escape.

He was near A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty, who talked about the weird event after the game.

"I just saw him out of the corner of my eye," Piscotty told NBC Sports California. "He was going up toward my head, probably trying to get my hat, [and] just bailed out."

[RELATED: Fans apprehended by security, umpire after running on the field]

This was new territory for Piscotty.
 
"That's the first time that's happened to me," he said. "I mean, I've seen them on the field, but I've never seen them charge a player. That's crossing the line quite a bit.

"It happened so fast, I was trying to figure out what was going on. He was clearly intoxicated or high or something. He was in a weird place."

The field is a weird place for anyone who isn't on the team. So, fans, stay off the field.