Bud’s blue ribbon Oakland A’s committee had a “secret meeting” with Oakland officials

20 Comments

I guess it’s not fair to say that the committee Bud Selig put on the Oakland A’s-to-San Jose case three years ago is doing nothing. Because they’re apparently having cloak and dagger meetings with Oakland officials in an effort to come up with some alternative to Lew Wolff’s designs on the south bay:

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon committee snuck into town Wednesday for a top secret meeting with East Bay officials and boosters at a downtown Oakland law office to discuss a new plan for an A’s waterfront ballpark …

… For months, [Oakland mayor Jean] Quan and company have been publicly touting the idea of building the new ballpark next to the Oakland Coliseum as part of a huge sports, housing and retail complex. But this meeting focused on a waterfront ballpark – most likely at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

I’ll defer to APBA Guy or other bay area people who follow this more closely, but I had always been of the impression that the various Oakland plans that have been tossed around over the years are more pie-in-the-sky things. Mostly because (a) the Oakland economy is awful; (b) there is zero appetite for public dollars to be spent on ballparks in the bay area; and (c) A’s owner Lew Wolff has no desire to explore the possibilities at all.

But hey, at least Bud’s committee actually did something. And now they can turn in expense reports and everything like they’re a real working entity and stuff.

UPDATE: Rhamesis Muncada (a.k.a. Marine Layer) at his website, newballpark.org, has a take that sounds about right:

“The cynic in me looks at this trip with a simple explanation. Summer owners’ meetings are scheduled for next week, and while there will be more pressing matters on the agenda (Padres sale, national TV deals, Nats-O’s-MASN deal) it’s expected that there will be some sort of update on the A’s-Giants ongoing saga. What better way to look like you’re doing something than to have a couple of meetings right before the owners’ sessions? It seems unlikely that Selig will be able to render a decision or bring up a vote based on whatever new information was gathered based on the trip since it’s so fresh, so it’s just one more opportunity to kick the can down the road…”

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
5 Comments

Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.