Recently, we interviewed legendary broadcaster Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, who gave us the sad scoop that the A's in 2011 would become the only Major League Baseball team in California NOT to have Spanish-language game broadcasts.
Today, we were shocked even more to learn the A's in 2011 might not even have English-language broadcasts. (Yes, seriously.)
That's right -- with Opening Night less than a week away, the A's have announced they might not have game radio broadcasts.
That unbelievable news was first reported by Joe Stiglich, the Bay Area News Group's A's beat writer. Stiglich wrote that:
... negotiations for the A's to buy KTRB (860-AM) -- which is in receivership with Comerica Bank -- have hit a major snag. In the fallout ... the agreement between the A's and the receiver to broadcast during the regular season also is in jeopardy.
The A's sent out a press release Friday saying that "due to technical issues beyond their control," spring training games Saturday and Sunday against the Colorado Rockies would not be broadcast on KTRB as originally planned.
Stiglich reports that the A's owners, Lew Wolff and John Fisher, have been trying to buy KTRB since it went into receivership last September. But, Stiglich's source gives a reason for the snag that will be all too familiar to A's fans in the Wolff era:
According to the source, the receiver is looking for a higher bid than the A's are willing to offer and might be threatening to pull games off the air as leverage.
To review, in the final week of Spring Training, right when baseball fans are jonesing for some baseball -- and a reason to buy some game tickets at the Coliseum -- A's radio broadcasts for this weekend (March 27-29) have been canceled. Even more, we might not have radio broadcasts at all for 2011, potentially leaving MLB.com as the only listening option for A's fans.
Well, Wolff and Fisher still have Comcast California for TV broadcasts -- are they televising any games this weekend to make up for the radio loss? Nope, unfortunately. They're not doing that either. Meanwhile, the Giants on Saturday were broadcasting their Spring Training game on KNBR radio and on Channel 3-NBC BayArea.
And they wonder why they're not selling more tickets to A's games. In the past 16 years -- first under Steve Schott and then under Wolff -- the A's media strategy has been a disaster. The team has bounced around from radio dial to radio dial, never giving their fans stability or a consistent media home. Also, these A's owners have let great announcers go to other squads by nickel-and-diming their announcing talent, which is such a key part of a sports team's marketing. First, they let Lon Simmons go in 1995. Then Greg Papa in 2003. Last year, it was Marty Lurie, and this year, they let Pi-Gonzalez and Spanish broadcasts go, squandering another chance to reach out to the region's fastest growing demographic.
The evidence is well beyond piling up. The verdict on Wolff and Fisher is undeniable. The incompetence is just staggering.
A reader comment posted after Stiglich's article sarcastically wonders how long it will take Wolff to blame the Oakland Coliseum for this latest front-office blunder. It's a fair question. Given their track record, the A's owners won't take responsibility for yet another PR debacle that depresses attendance, rather than builds it.
It's almost unbelievable. Yet, for anyone following the Wolff-Fisher ownership in the last six years, it's all too familiar.