As the A’s and Oakland fight about a lease, the Raiders plan to tear the Coliseum down

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As we’ve chronicled for the past couple of weeks, the A’s and Oakland are engaged in all kinds of drama about the planned ten-year lease for the team to continue playing in the Oakland Coliseum. It’s all fraught with intrigue and strategy and bluffing and posturing. But maybe it doesn’t matter:

While the A’s are trying to negotiate a deal to stay in the O.co Coliseum for another 10 years, the Raiders are in talks to tear down the stadium next year to make way for a new home for the NFL team . . . Representatives of Coliseum City say they expect to reach a deal with the Raiders by the end of the summer that would lead to the opening of a new football stadium on the existing site by 2018.

“It will be critical to demolish the existing stadium in 2015” if the project is to be finished on time, Coliseum City attorney (and local political powerhouse) Zachary Wasserman said in a July 2 memo to Quan and City Administrator Henry Gardner.

Which, oooohhhkay, would be rather interesting given that the A’s have the right to a two-year notice before having to vacate. And given that the Coliseum Authority still owes $180 million to pay for the 1990s renovations to the place. This was all summed up in a quote from the Coliseum chairman:

“This is either smoke and mirrors,” Miley said, “or they are on crack.”

It all does seem silly, given that the Coliseum Authority, and not developers or city officials control what happens to the place. I mean, Wal-Mart could write a memo saying they want to tear my house down, but they do sorta need my approval on the plan. At least last time I checked. I dunno, maybe my living here violates Wal-Mart, Inc.’s religious beliefs thereby giving them the rights to my home. With this Supreme Court you can never tell.

All of that said, I’d be curious to see where the A’s would play if this plan did get some traction. I mean, if there was some committee studying all of this for the past five years there would be options. But as of now, eh.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.