“This idea we’re trying to discourage people from coming is a bunch of
crap. Every Wednesday, we have almost 9,000 $2 tickets. … It should be
embarrassing to all of us that we can’t draw people at $2.”
— Lew Wolff, bristling at the suggestion that he and the Athletics have tried to sabotage the Athletics in Oakland in the interest of propping up their case to move to San Jose.
The comments — and several other pithy ones — come in the course of an article in today’s Chronicle, telling the story of the A’s attendance apocalypse from the perspective of ownership.
California business and politics — especially when it involves large-scale real estate development — is an impossibly complicated subject, burdened with an overlay of left wing (“Don’t build here! We saw a rare salamander here last year!”) and right wing (“Don’t tax us! Taxation in all forms is theft!”) sentiment that is often hard to reconcile. In light of that I don’t know that I fully understand all of the dynamics in play with the Athletics’ situation.
But from what I do understand, this is not a situation in which any one party comfortably wears a black hat. I don’t think Lew Wolff has done everything conceivable to make Oakland work, but nor do I think he would ignore workable solutions or go out to sabotage the team.
Meanwhile, I feel for Athletics’ fans who root for a team whose owners make a tidy profit that doesn’t appear to be reinvested all that well, but at the same time I don’t think the A’s fans have always been such ardent supporters of the team that they are really entitled to play the wounded fanbase card.
This team is ultimately going to San Jose. Of this I’m fairly certain. It seems, though, that getting from here to there is going to be an increasingly acrimonious experience.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.
Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.
Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.
The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.
Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.
Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.
Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation with their epic chase of Roger Maris’ home run record. But it has been, and after years of reaction, counter-reaction and, of course, baseball’s reckoning with the performance-enhancing drugs which helped fuel the chase, it’s probably finally time to do our best to contextualize it historically.
Today one of my favorite news outlets does that with an oral history. All of the key figures weigh-in on it, from McGwire and Sosa to Bud Selig to Tony La Russa. Randy Johnson makes an appearance as well, reminding us that it wasn’t just the sluggers who had an amazing year in 1998. Indeed, his story, including his being traded to Houston and going on an amazing second-half run, has almost been lost to history.
This is bookmark material, my friends. For savoring later if you can’t read it now. And for revisiting at another time given the depths to the drama which justifies multiple readings. I’ll just warn you that there is some adult language in the story, but that’s to be expected given the passion the 1998 baseball season inspired.