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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉