Oakland City Councilman says the A’s could move to San Antonio or Montreal

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When we last left the Oakland A’s Coliseum drama, it appeared as though the lease will finally be approved over the objections of many on City Council. The reason? Last week Bud Selig gave the A’s permission to leave Oakland if they want to, which apparently scared some Oakland officials.

Seems like a bluff to me. Just being allowed to leave is not the issue; approval to actually go someplace where a viable baseball team could actually operate is a way bigger issue, and nothing reported last week suggested the existence of any such place. Where ya gonna go, Athletics?

Someone on the Oakland City Council thinks they have a place in mind:

Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid says he doesn’t believe the A’s are bluffing in their threat to leave the city if they don’t get a 10-year lease extension at the Coliseum, and he pointed to a pair of possible destinations — Montreal and San Antonio, Texas.

Reid said that was the word he got from the Coliseum Authority negotiators who have been working for the past 14 months to try to reach an A’s lease extension.

“They have options,’’ Reid said.

Montreal presents a crumbling stadium and market which were utterly neglected by Major League Baseball for years. Which is exactly what they have in Oakland right now, so why pay Allied Vans extra on top of that?

San Antonio could theoretically work someday, but at the moment there is only a football stadium they use for occasional exhibition games with a 280-foot porch in right field. Because of weather in the dog days of summer which can only be described as “AHHHHHHGGHHH!!!! THIS IS HORRIBLE,” the San Antonio A’s would need a new domed or retractable roof stadium. Did I mention that, currently, there is no appetite to give the Double-A San Antonio Missions a new park? I’ve been to their current one. If that’s any gauge, no one down there is all that prepared to give the A’s a billion bucks for a new park.

Sorry, I think those are bluffs. And I will continue to believe that unless and until Major League Baseball says the A’s can move to San Jose or gives them approval to go to a place that has already demonstrated a desire to build the A’s a new park.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.