Sunday, November 27, 2011

Billy Beane is Lying to You

Billy Beane is lying to you.

In a recent S.F. Chronicle article, Susan Slusser wrote:

Oakland lost money for the first time this century, with an expected shortfall of several million dollars, according to Beane.

This is totally untrue and easily refutable. Oakland lost money? Really? Objective sports economists and journalists disagree.

Like Forbes Magazine, which revealed that last year alone the A's turned a $23 million profit. Also, the A's have averaged a $23 million annual profit for the past three years.

Slusser also blames the A's "woes" on the fact that they raised the team payroll $15 million in 2010. But again, that doesn't add up -- literally. It's as simple as 23 minus 15 equals 8, as in: If the A's are profiting $23 million each year, as Forbes says, then a $15 million payroll bump still leaves them with an $8 million profit. In one year alone.

Or look at CSNBayArea sportswriter Ray Ratto's recent column:

There is nothing particularly new about Billy Beane’s interest in the Athletics’ stadium issue. He’s been telling this one for awhile now ... we can assume that once again, John Fisher and Lew Wolff didn’t actually lose real money ... Why this fiction continues is a marvel of modern mythmaking ...

Then there's this September column where Ratto all but accuses Beane and Wolff of lying:

The A’s are clearly playing the extort-a-ballpark game yet again ... We’ve never believed that, and we never will. The A’s are deliciously profitable every year because of the revenue sharing pixie. ... Nice try, but the smart folks aren’t buying.

Plus, if Beane blows an extra $15 million on players and the team still stinks, isn't that Beane's fault? C'mon, the Tampa Bay Rays have had a lower payroll than the A's for years and the Rays made the playoffs three of the past four years and had a World Series appearance, which Beane's teams have never accomplished.

We're also perplexed why Beane thinks that claiming the A's lost money in 2011 for the "first time this century" makes his point. Assuming he means the first 11 years of the 21st Century ... We have to ask, if the A's have been profitable that whole time, then why have they constantly whined about money and talked about moving the team in that time period? Because a lot of teams would love to have turned a profit each year for the past decade.

Also, consider this ...

From 1995-99, the Giants averaged $20 million annual losses and lost about $97 million combined. That investment paid off beautifully for the Giants, of course, once they moved into AT&T Park in 2000 in their longtime hometown.

Wolff and Beane could do the same thing with the A's in Oakland if they were, you know, actual businessmen willing to invest, instead of what they really are: shady guys playing a fixed economic game, like gambling addicts rigging MLB's equivalent of a casino roulette wheel. It's a dirty game in which exactly two things always lose: the fan and integrity.

Since 1995, Oakland A's fans have put up with a lot of abuse from the team's owners, but few things are as painful to watch as seeing Beane –- a guy we once admired for his perceived loyalty and integrity -- turn completely into a dishonest sellout.

As Ratto wrote: "Nice try, but the smart folks aren’t buying."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You

It's that time of year again, the time of giving thanks.

We're thankful for so many things, especially as they relate to our first love, the Oakland Athletics. We're thankful for Charlie O. Finley for creating this marriage of Oakland and Major League Baseball, and we're thankful for Carl Finley for doing the work of 10 men while running the franchise.

We're thankful for Catfish's perfect game, for Reggie's swagger and that big 'tater' off Dock Ellis in the Tiger Stadium All-Star game, for Vida's amazing Cy Young/MVP-winning 1971 season, for the Mustache Gang, for Joe Rudi's on-the-wall catch in '72, for Dick Williams' managing, for Dick Green's glove in '74, for each Rollie Fingers three-inning save, for team vice president Stanley "MC Hammer" Burrell, and for Billy Martin, BillyBall, for every single Rickey Henderson stolen base, and for every pitch Dwayne Murphy took to allow Lou Brock's record to be broken, for Mike Norris Cy Young-worthy year and the other four amazin' A's aces that graced that 1981 Sports Illustrated cover, for Walter Haas and his gracious, generous family, Andy Dolich's savvy marketing skills, the Bash Brothers, Walt Weiss' rookie year, Lon Simmons' humor and professionalism, Bill King's undeniable greatness, Steinbach's All-Star MVP trophy, for Dave Duncan's master stroke of turning Dennis Eckersley into a closer, for Dave Stewart's rebirth, Dave Henderson's smile and the Hendu Bad Boy Club, for the outfield bleacher benches, Tony Phillips' clutch bat and his All-World temper, Eric Fox's grand slam in Minnesota, Bobby Welch's 27 wins and for that beautiful, epic four-game sweep in the 1989 World Series.

We're thankful for Art Howe's laid-back but competitive style while leading the A's to their first AL West title in eight years, for Miguel Tejada's passion, Hudson's fire, Zito's curve ball and Mulder's moxie, for Chavez's Gold Gloves, Lidle's August, Hatteberg's homer, Ramon's walk-off bunt, Frank Thomas' home run trot, Scutaro's cool grace and Kotsay's inside-the-park homer.

We're thankful for the venerable Oakland Coliseum, and Oakland baseball fans, the most resilient and feisty fan base in the history of the sport.

But what we're most thankful for is the city of Oakland; this beautiful, cosmopolitan, unpretentious, rebellious, sophisticated, creative, gritty, courageous, pretty, misunderstood, underrated, thick-shouldered, golden-hearted champion of a city.

Thanks for sticking with us -- and the fight -- for 16 years. This ain't the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time and Place

The game of baseball will humble you. It especially humbles those who celebrate before a victory is, you know, actually in the books. Just ask Gene Mauch. Or the 2011 Red Sox. Or Dusty Baker and Russ Ortiz.

Given that, it's been strange to see Wolff's longtime cheerleaders do a victory dance this week based on very little information from very few sources other than Wolff's longtime cheerleaders.

Yes,'s Ken Rosenthal had an article Saturday saying that Commissioner Bud Selig recently met with the A's and plans to meet with Giants owners by the end of the month. What Wolff's cheerleaders -- some on the company payroll, some not -- aren't telling you is what Rosenthal also wrote in the same article:

One solution, if the Giants refuse to yield their territorial rights, would be for baseball to purchase the A’s from Wolff, secure a stadium deal in Oakland, then resell the club, sources say.

Oh, my ... well, that sounds quite different than a "done deal for Wolff," doesn't it?

Simply put, Wolff and Billy Beane -- surely on the advice of a high-priced paid media consultant -- are trying to pull the ol' Jedi Mind Trick; which is: 'If we say what we want to do as if we're actually doing it, and we say it with confidence enough times, then after a while people will just assume that that's what we're doing, regardless of the facts.'

In other words, fake it 'til you make it. The problem with that is when Wolff and Beane say their South Bay stadium plans are "shovel ready" they are lying. Let us count the ways:

1. The Giants aren't budging. Larry Baer has said many times that the territorial rights they own are non-negotiable. On Tuesday, Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter told the Mercury News about the Giants' stance on territorial rights:

"We have had that position from when Peter Magowan was the president and managing general partner, and it will remain the same with Larry as well."

2. AT&T still owns two large parcels at the site, including a big swath of land nearly right in the middle of what would be the stadium's field. What's to stop AT&T from delaying the project for at least two years by forcing Chuck Reed to eminent domain the site? Who's paying for those legal fees? Then again, at which stadium is AT&T the main corporate sponsor? Oh, right.

3. How can the Diridon site be ready when San Jose is legally required to have a public vote on the project? That's a vote they are not guaranteed to win and it's at least several months away. Also, MLB owners have to be wary of setting a precedent by removing the legally binding territorial rights, only to have South Bay residents vote it down. That's a lose-lose for all the owners.

4. Lastly, don't forget that San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has threatened to sue Major League Baseball if they try to manhandle the Giants on this issue.

And that's the short list of concerns.

Don't get us wrong -- we're looking forward to a resolution to this issue, too, especially as fans who've been treated poorly by A's owners since 1995. But we're not going to count our chickens before they're hatched. Informed baseball fans know what this game does to you when you do that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

To a Great Manager

Here at BaseballOakland, we always celebrate and take pride in our history and tradition. That, of course, includes the Mustache Gang winning three straight World Series titles, the four-game sweep of the cross-bay rivals in the 1989 Fall Classic and the record-breaking 20-game win streak in 2002. We can go on and on about this storied ballclub that is the Oakland A's and we celebrate everything and anything about them.

The 2011 season ended last week with the St. Louis Cardinals capturing their 11th ring (two ahead of the A's, and deservedly so). Cardinals manager (and former Oakland A's great) Tony LaRussa is calling it a career after 33 seasons, in which he won six pennants and three World Series rings. One of those titles came right here in Oakland in 1989, and it was the most lopsided World Series in the history of the game. In Oakland, LaRussa spent 10 years, earning three American League pennants and one World Series titles. He posted a .542 winning percentage during his tenure with the Green and Gold.

We would like to congratulate and celebrate LaRussa's career by dedicating this blog to him. Tony LaRussa was a great fit for Walter Haas's ownership, which gave back to Oakland and the whole East Bay community. LaRussa still resides in the East Bay and is involved within the community.

Some day, we hope to have another great manager like LaRussa was here in Oakland. Until then, we will continue to celebrate the Oakland A's tradition and rich history. Best of luck, Tony, and thank you for the great memories. We look forward to your Hall of Fame speech.