Thursday, September 16, 2010

Killion on Wolff & MLB $$ Leaks

In the time since Ann Killion left The San Jose Mercury News for CSN Bay Area and Sports Illustrated, she has written some very critical columns about Lew Wolff and John Fisher.

Last week the South Bay columnist wrote another one about Wolff, this time featuring the headline: "A's could contend, but owners would rather move to San Jose."

Killion referred to the recent leak about the finances of several MLB teams. Those leaks were especially embarrassing for the Pirates and the Marlins – two franchises who had cried poor to get publicly financed stadiums built for them. But the leaks showed that the Pirates and Marlins, and their owners, have been dishonest about their finances.

Killion noted that Fisher and Wolff caught a break when the leaks did not include the Athletics' real financial figures. Killion wrote:

It would be a bit distasteful to have the details of their role as a baseball welfare recipient exposed, especially while Fisher's family has a fine art collection being shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ("Calder to Warhol," running through Sept. 19).

Why would it be distasteful for Wolff and Fisher? Killion explains:

Wolff and Fisher -- who have been eyeing San Jose since they bought the team in 2005 -- would like you to believe that they've done all they can to make it work in Oakland, though boosting their team's payroll and adding pieces that could help fuel a serious playoff run hasn't been among their strategies.

Killion's column echoes similar ones penned recently by longtime sportswriters Ray Ratto, Monte Poole, and Lowell Cohn. And Killion even took a shot at Billy Beane, who usually avoids the barbs of most sportswriters. Here's Killion's take:

The A's were in virtually the same position at the July trade deadline and clearly in need of some offensive help, yet ... General manager Billy Beane was happy to uncharacteristically sit on the sidelines and do nothing.

So, according to Killion, the A's owners are not willing to spend any money or time to improve some of the franchise's problems. As we've seen in other cities, new ballparks are no panaceas for revenue problems. Just as many new ballparks fail to solve a team's competition problems and money woes as there are successful ones. It all comes down to ownership. So, until Wolff and Fisher either change course and work hard and show fans that they care, or until they sell the team to an owner who will do those things, then A’s fans will continue to be stuck in limbo.

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