The City of Oakland decides to flush $750,000 down the toilet

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Earlier this month we passed along word that the City of Oakland was developing a ballpark plan for the A’s. It was facing a dilemma, however because of Major League Baseball’s continued dithering on the whole can-the-A’s-play-in-San Jose issue.  Should the city spend the money for an environmental impact assessment when it’s unclear whether the team has any intention whatsoever to stay in town? As of Tuesday, the city council’s answer is yes:

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to spend as much as $750,000 on an environmental study for a new ballpark, even though the owner of the A’s is trying to move the team to San Jose … Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, the plan’s most vocal opponent, said it is foolhardy to spend money for a study when there is no commitment from A’s owner Lew Wolff or Major League Baseball to keep the team in Oakland. He was joined by Councilwoman Nancy Nadel in saying that the city should not fund the report.

“Let’s also be realistic about Major League Baseball’s tactics and how they play,” De La Fuente said. “I think they’re trying to play off one seat against the other in order to get the best deal they can (between Oakland and San Jose).”

People in Oakland should listen to Ignacio De La Fuente. The only way the A’s will consider staying in Oakland at this point is if the Giants simply insist that they can’t be bought and make it clear that their threats of litigation in the event the A’s try to move to San Jose are serious.

Before that?  This environmental study will simply be used by the A’s as leverage to extract a little something extra out of San Jose. Or, best case scenario, will be a simple waste of taxpayer dollars.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.