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.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.