Ray Ratto

Possibilities for A's stadium remain endless


Possibilities for A's stadium remain endless

Matier and Ross, those two notorious troublemakers, reported today that the chimerical Blue Ribbon Committee alit from their home in Atlantis and met Wednesday with Oakland officials and stadium boosters to discuss a waterfront ballpark plan.

And the word waterfront means one that isnt in San Jose.

But the day before, the committee of cherubim and seraphim met with San Jose officials to see how their plans for the As were progressing.

In short, the committee, whose work product to date could have been equaled by a small clowder of kittens, has finally decided to show some public interest in the only thing it has been asked to do.

Now the question becomes whether their findings in these two meetings have anything to do with anything. After all, Bud Selig has said more than once that the problem of San Jose is one to be settled between the Giants and As ownership groups, because baseball just didnt have the time (read: interest) in getting involved itself.

It has been our position for some time now that the committee does not actually exist, and without actually knowing the sources of Matier and Ross story we cannot say with complete surety that it actually does. We know they are usually quite reliable when they type, but we also consider the possibility that the committee just met for the first time after 40 months of . . . well, not.

Either way, this is what should have happened three years ago. And all that actually has happened is that they asked a few questions of interested parties, which is a lot less than an actual COMMITTEE REPORT WITH WORDS AND PUNCTUATION AND CONCLUSIONS AND SOLUTIONS AND STUFF LIKE THAT!

Maybe Selig has finally given up getting the As and Giants to do anything but hate each other in silence. Maybe someone finally jabbed him one too many times about the collective of work-product zombies that is the committee.

Maybe theyve just been too busy. For 1,200 days.

But this is the first sign that there is interest in an outside solution to the stasis that is the Athletics.

And San Jose? Well, its still trying to figure out if the state is going to take a bunch of redevelopment money that it earmarked for the As stadium, and according to M&R might have to sell off the stadium property if wrongdoing can be proven.

The San Jose folks, like everyone else involved, say everything is going their way, and that everything is progressing apace. Then again, since nothing has happened, they can all say they are right.

And lets be honest even if the committee was finally shaken from its years of required torpor to actually talk to people, it doesnt mean it is any closer to producing the report it was allegedly charged to write, or that baseball would do anything more than it has done to date, which is also nothing.

And the possibilities remain seemingly endless. The As move to San Jose and tell baseball to stop them. The As get permission to move to San Jose, and the Giants pitch a nutty. They As dont get permission, and John Fisher sells. The As dont get permission and John Fisher keeps cashing revenue sharing checks. The As build in Oakland. The As stay in the Coliseum and complain about it until we are all long and safely dead.

In the meantime, the new is the old, and the old is the new. Fact-finding after 40 months people get masters degrees in less time, and they have to produce lots of work that people can see.

Why it's better to be an Athletic than a Giant at this All-Star break


Why it's better to be an Athletic than a Giant at this All-Star break

As we have reached the point in our sporting experience at which we often prefer the imaginary world to the real one (see gambling, futures odds, daily fantasy, draft and combine obsessions, just to name an obnoxious few), let’s check in on Major League Baseball at the All-Star break.
But not as it is, but how it would be if wins and losses corresponded to what they should be based on our great, noble and very dead friend Pythagoras.
Now there are many forms of the expected wins theorem because the formulas used to calculate how to metricize run differential are different, but we’ll just pick a few to annoy and amaze you. First, your American League, ranked by how they would be seeded in the postseason:
BOSTON (actual 68-30, 65-33 by baseballreference.com and MLB.com, 106-56 projected by Fangraphs)
HOUSTON                          64-35/70-29/104-58 
CLEVELAND                    52-43/55-40/92-70
NEW YORK YANKEES     62-33/61-34/103-59
SEATTLE                            58-39/48-49/90-72
By this, the Red Sox lead the Astros and Yankees by 4 ½ games but trails in expected wins by 4 ½. Houston leads Seattle by five games but should lead by 21. The Yankees would have the third-best record, and the Indians barely would make it, only because they're in the worst division ever divided.
But Seattle is the funny team because of this:
OAKLAND                          55-42/51-46/87-75
TAMPA BAY                      49-47/50-45/80-82
L.A. ANGELS                    49-48/51-46/81-81
Based on run differential, the Mariners are three games worse than all three, and being swept in Colorado was unhelpful. Thus, what we have here is four sure things and the Mariners trying to hold off the A’s, Rays, and Angels. In short, here is the future of the American League:
July 27-29: Mariners at Angels
July 31-August 2: Rays at Angels
August 10-12: A’s at Angels
August 30-September 2: Mariners at A’s
September 13-16: Mariners at Angels
September 14-16; A’s at Rays
September 18-20: Angels at A’s
September 24-26: A’s at Mariners
September 28-30: A’s at Mariners.
The National League is a much bigger mess, and the Giants are looking up at most of it:
CHICAGO CUBS                   55-38/58-35/94-58
PHILADELPHIA                    53-42/49-46/85-77
L.A. DODGERS                      53-43/57-39/91-71
MILWAUKEE                          55-43/54-44/86-76
ATLANTA                                 52-42/54-40/84-78
ARIZONA                                  53-44/53-44/86-76
COLORADO                             51-45/48-48/83-79
ST. LOUIS                           48-46/48-46/83-79
SAN FRANCISCO                 50-48/46-52/82-80
WASHINGTON                       48-48/51-45/86-76
PITTSBURGH                          48-49/46-51/80-82
By this analysis, the Cubs and Dodgers would win their divisions comfortably, and the Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Braves, Rockies and Cardinals would play about 150 games against each other to fill the other three spots. Now that would be the kind of baffling months-long madness we find great fun.
But the two teams that aren’t in that group, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, won’t share said fun by these numbers. They are .500 teams who are overachieving to get there, and the Pirates already figure to be sellers at the July 31 trade deadline.
The Giants probably won’t be either buyers or sellers, and are in any event positioning themselves for 2019, hoping to figure out what to do about the 46 percent of the payroll taken up by Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon this year, next year and 2020 (hint: contracts will be eaten).
In short, based on enjoyment, value and general optimism, it is better to be an Athletic at this All-Star break than a Giant. Plus, it's still easier to mind one team ahead of you and two potentially behind you than seven ahead of you.
But it’s good to have dreams. Beer, and dreams.

Distance between the U.S. and SoccerWorld is more vast than ever


Distance between the U.S. and SoccerWorld is more vast than ever

The World Cup was over for about eight seconds when the good people at Bovada.com whirled into action and made up a futures book for the 2022 World Cup – mostly because degeneracy never sleeps.
But also because the run-up to the World Cup In Hell, as the Qatar competition will come to be known, is a good way to establish just how hungry American soccer believers are in getting back into the anticipation game. The U.S. national team, as shambolic as it has been in nearly three decades, is listed as a cool 80-1, the 16th-highest rated team on the planet, generously tied with Denmark, mostly because there will be betting action on the USNMT just so people who want to bet the Yanks can manufacture excitement after a year of utterly mockable inertia.
And that’s the key here – this isn’t a measure of the nation’s place in the international game that just captivated us for a month, not at all. The U.S. couldn’t even be 32nd this year and suddenly, with nothing more to bank upon than four more birthdays for Christian Pulisic, they have improved 16 places merely because they are probably more bettable now than they will be for years.
We just established that as a nation we can be thrilled by the World Cup without even a hint of America, but that’s not the lesson that will be learned here. The lesson is that teeny little Croatia could get to the final game, and that this was the World Cup in which the chalk mostly failed. France was considered a lively underdog but hardly the equal of Brazil or Spain or Argentina or Germany, and the final four included an improbably happy and agenda-free England side and Belgium’s latest golden generation.
And individually, the tournament was not dominated by any single player, no matter how much Fox wanted to cram Ronaldo and Messi and Kane down our constricted yaps. The standouts were Mbappe and Modric and Pogba and Kante and Hazard and Griezmann and Perisic and Pickford – all well known to soccer aficionados, but very much against the run of narrative play.
In short, for casual fans it helped to know the players, but mostly the fans came anyway because Americans love to label-shop if their own team isn’t involved, and the World Cup has a great label even despite the continued involvement of FIFA.
But as for the Americans, being 80-1 with only 1,590 days left to get themselves together and put up not only a coherent side but a coherent plan installed by coherent men and women seems, well, low. The distance between the U.S. and SoccerWorld is more vast than ever, and now that casual fans have figured out that the flag is less important than the field, the U.S. will not just be able to toss out a few strips of bunting and call itself America’s team. It will have to earn it with actual play.
This flies in the face of what America does best – throwing the party. The 2026 World Cup will be America at its most competent and organized, and maybe with 3,000 days of prep time it can deliver even better goods than it did in 1994.
But the team itself . . . well, even if you accept the very generous 80-1 line as even minimally valid, it has light years to travel. The U.S. stepped back while the rest of the world stepped forward, and a World Cup as entertainingly unpredictable as this will make it harder, not easier, for the Americans to claim the place it insists for itself by virtue of . . . well, saying it should have a place.
If they’re to be one of the 32 again, they will have to re-learn what it is like to be and act like the outsider. Other than Pulisic, feeling ostracized as not good enough is probably the best tool in their shed.

In the meantime, "go you degenerates!" or as the French say, "allez vous dégénérés!" You can show the country the way by betting the Yanks down to, oh, say 75-1.