And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Ugly game, with each team trying valiantly to lose throughout, but third base ump Bob Davidson was the ugliest part of all. He blew the call on what would have been the game-winning hit by Gaby Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth, calling it foul when it most clearly was not. Not that he’d know, because he was out of position to make the call. Really, check the screen cap to the right: he’s looking up. The ball is down and to his left.

This crap is just inexcusable. You can institute replay to fix these mistakes or — and this is even more nutty — you can hire umpires who know their ass from their elbow. What you can’t do is let bad calls like this stand in an age when it’s possible to review and correct every single bad call almost immediately after it happens.

Twins 8, Rays 6: OK, this may have been an even bigger horsesh– reason to lose a game than a bad call: Jason Kubel’s pop to shallow left in the top of the ninth hit the
catwalk at Tropicana Field and dropped for an RBI single, giving the
Twins a 7-6 lead in a game they won 8-6. Joe Maddon freaked. As would I have. Then again, at least everyone knew this could happen beforehand because it’s part of the ground rules of the place. No one, in contrast, would have expected that an extra-base hit would be called a foul ball for no good reason in that Philly-Florida game.

Orioles 5, Angels 4: The power of Buck compels you. The Angels have now lost all three Dan Haren starts since the big trade.

Pirates 5, Rockies 1: James McDonald shut out the Rockies over six while striking out eight. I guess that means he’s still helping the Dodgers out, loosely speaking, but eventually they’re going to realize that it was probably a mistake getting rid of him.

Braves 3, Giants 2: Both teams had tons of scoring chances that went by the wayside so in the end the dingers decided it. Two off Tim Lincecum — one for Alex Gonzalez, one for Eric Hinske — which doesn’t happen very often. Jair Jurrjens wasn’t anything special, allowing seven hits, five of which were doubles, and walking three. The Giants should have scored more runs off that, but that’s where this recap started so we’re just going around in circles now.

Red Sox 6, Indians 2: An Adrian Beltre homer and the good version of Dice-K (more valuable because it’s rare!) take care of business.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Bobby Jenks did all he could do to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but a two-run triple by Mark Kotsay in the 11th sealed the deal for the Chisox. There are too many good relievers in that Sox pen for Ozzie Guillen to keep using Jenks when he obviously doesn’t trust him.

Padres 5, Dodgers 0: Five pitchers combine to blank L.A., and the Padres are now up two games up on the Giants. Starter Kevin Correia was rather lucky, actually, as he had no strikeouts and gave up a few warning track flies in his five and two-thirds innings.

Rangers 6, Mariners 0: Tommy Hunter bounces back from his first loss of the season to shut down the Mariners. Not that they were running at such a high velocity to begin with. The AP game story is the first time I’ve seen the word “embattled” applies to Don Wakamatsu’s name. I don’t expect it to be the last. And I presume by October it will change to “former.”

Diamondbaks 8, Nationals 4: Sticking with AP game stories, this one contained a classic passage that I think says it all: “The few who showed up got to see a sometimes-stinky game filled with
four errors, a botched squeeze and a strikeout that scored a run.”  “Sometimes Stinky” sounds like the name of an album from some twee, overly-studied British folk duo from the mid-90s.

A’s running out of time to find home in Oakland, Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Athletics have spent years trying to get a new stadium while watching Bay Area neighbors such as the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and Raiders successfully move into state-of-the-art venues, and now time is running short on their efforts.

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and though they might be forced to extend the terms, the club and Major League Baseball have deemed the stadium unsuitable for a professional franchise.

They are searching for a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, but they have experienced difficulties in both areas. The A’s missed a major deadline in October to get a deal done in Oakland, and there has been little indication they will receive the kind of funding they want from Las Vegas.

“I think the A’s have to look at it in a couple of ways,” said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner at Las Vegas-based B Global. “Obviously, they have struggled in Oakland to get a deal across the line. It isn’t for a lack of effort. . You have an owner that’s willing to pony up money, you have a club that wants to sit there and figure out a way to make it work, and you keep running into obstacles along the way.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait. Oakland, do you want them or not? And if not, where are the A’s going to get the best deal? Is it Vegas? Is it somewhere else? They’ll have to figure that out.”

What the A’s are thinking is a little bit of a mystery. Team President Dave Kaval was talkative earlier in the process, saying the A’s are pursuing two different tracks with Oakland and Las Vegas. But he went silent on the subject several months ago. A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said mostly recently that the club would withhold comment for now.

The A’s have been negotiating with Oakland to build a $1 billion stadium as part of a $12 billion redevelopment deal.

Newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao said reaching a deal is important as long as it makes economic sense to the city. Her predecessor, Libby Schaaf, led prior efforts to reach an agreement, but after the city and the A’s missed that October deadline, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed reservations a deal will ever get done.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said at the time. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.”

Recent California history justifies his concerns. SoFi Stadium in Southern California and Chase Center in San Francisco were built with private money, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was 90% privately financed.

“And then I think there was some contagion where around the country people realized these deals could be done well privately and could generate a return on investment to those investors,” said David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California. “Why are we throwing public money at it at all?”

That’s also a question being asked in Las Vegas, even though the Raiders in 2016 received $750 million from the Nevada Legislature for a stadium. That then was the largest amount of public money for a sports venue, but it was surpassed last March by the $850 million pledged to construct a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Another deal like the one for Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play, appears unlikely in Nevada. T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2017, was privately financed. An arena planned for south of the Las Vegas Strip also wouldn’t rely on public funds.

Las Vegas, however, has shown financing creativity. Its Triple-A baseball stadium received $80 million in 2017 for naming rights from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room taxes fund the authority, so it was public money in a backdoor sort of way.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who is on the board of the convention authority, has spoken with A’s representatives about their interest in Las Vegas and said he is aware of the club’s talks with other Nevada officials. He said the A’s are taking a much different approach than the Raiders, who identified Las Vegas early as their choice landing spot after many years of failing to get a new stadium in Oakland.

“When the Raiders decided to come to Las Vegas, they had a clear plan,” Naft said. “You had a clear body that was tasked with assessing the worth and the value, and they committed to the destination. I have not seen that from the Oakland A’s at any level, and it’s not really our job to go out and beg them to come here because we have earned the reputation of the greatest arena on Earth. We have put in both the dollars and the labor to make that the case.

“I think I’ve made myself clear, but from conversations with others, I don’t think I’m alone on that.”

New Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo “will not raise taxes” to attract the A’s or any other team, his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, said in a statement. But she said the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs,” which could mean tax breaks similar to what Tesla received in 2014.

Manfred said in December that the A’s relocation fee would be waived if they move to Las Vegas, a savings to the club reportedly of up to $1 billion.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said then.

Naft said Allegiant Stadium filled a hole that went beyond landing an NFL team. It allowed Las Vegas to attract major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four and major concerts such as Garth Brooks and Elton John that “in many cases we would not otherwise have.”

He said he doesn’t believe a baseball stadium would accomplish that, and sports economist Victor Matheson agreed.

“I think there’s a real question about how much people are willing to watch baseball in Las Vegas,” said Matheson, a professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not like locals don’t have a huge number of entertainment options right now, and it’s not clear exactly how much people might travel to watch baseball in Vegas, either.”

If the A’s truly want to be in Las Vegas, Naft said they need to make that clear.

“I just believe you can’t play destinations against each other,” Naft said. “If you want to come here and you want to be met with open arms, you’ve got to commit.”

Should the A’s fail to reach an agreement in Oakland or Las Vegas, they could consider other destinations such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and Portland, Oregon. Whether they would have the time to explore such options is another question.

Oakland has already shown it will watch the Raiders move to Nevada and the Warriors go across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Las Vegas, Matheson noted, is hardly in a desperate situation. He also expressed caution that Las Vegas could go from being among the largest metropolitan areas without a major professional sports team to among the smallest with three franchises.

“So you’ve gone from kind of being under-sported to being over-sported in a short period of time if the A’s were to go there,” Matheson said.