Howard Bryant, an ESPN.com reporter, is one of our favorite national sportswriters. He's written three baseball books: "The Last Hero (a Henry Aaron biography), "Juicing the Game" (steroids in baseball) and "Shut Out" (baseball's unsavory history of racism), all of which are excellent. And few journalists "get it" as well as he does when tackling MLB's often circuitous and money-mad halls of power.
We appreciate a talent like Bryant putting a national spotlight on the plight of A's fans. A good chunk of what he wrote in his two articles about the A's search for a new stadium was accurate and, we believe, supports our view of of keeping the A's in Oakland.
Update: To read Bryant's article, please click here for Part I and click here for Part II.
Here are our favorite excerpts from Bryant's articles last week:
*Concern exists both from A's fans and from rival teams that Wolff's business partner, John Fisher, is one of the richest men in the game but doesn't pay for players. Rival clubs as well as the Players Association are also concerned that the A's received $32 million in revenue sharing last season with little obvious evidence that the money has gone back into the club payroll.
*In 14 of the 15 years before the Giants were purchased from Bob Lurie by the ownership led by Peter Magowan, the Athletics outdrew the Giants at the gate.
*...there is another truth Wolff must face: Oakland doesn't have much reason to trust him, either. Since Walter Haas sold the team in 1995, A's owners have done everything in their power to leave Oakland, physically and emotionally.
*There is a growing sentiment in Oakland that despite Wolff's protestations that he has exhausted all avenues to build a stadium in Oakland, ownership is purposely sabotaging the team in a host of onerous ways, by failing to support the A's, to spend money on the big names, and especially by publicly demeaning the city as unviable, all to pursue its only true objective: to move to San Jose -- or else.
*Wolff says he went into his research with the best, most positive intentions. But the energy he brings to Oakland, like that of Schott and Hofmann before him, is negative ...
*Despite Wolff's protestations that he is not purposely burying the club, the A's appear to be following the Montreal narrative.
*Selig's committee ... appears intrigued by a parcel of land in Oakland called Victory Court, which is located on the waterfront, close to public transportation.
And last, but not least, discussing the Los Angeles Dodgers' situation:
*Selig should begin negotiating the exit plan for McCourt and install Wolff as the new owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Removing Wolff from Oakland and installing him in Los Angeles solves two key issues: (1) It opens the door for a clean slate of negotiations between a new A's ownership and the city of Oakland; and (2) by awarding Wolff one of the four most important franchises in baseball (the Yankees, Cardinals, Red Sox are the other three), it compensates him for blocking him from San Jose.
That is a scenario that we would love to see come to fruition.