Oakland Athletics

Athletics considering using an aerial tram to get people to their hypothetical new ballpark

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One of the sites the Oakland Athletics are considering for their new ballpark that, I imagine anyway, will one day be built, is the Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square. It’s a site the city has been pushing, though the current Coliseum site is also in the mix.

As those most familiar with the ballpark situation in Oakland have noted, the biggest problem with the Howard Terminal site is access. The nearest BART station is not super close — it’s like a mile away — and there is a freeway and train tracks in between. To wit:

 

One possible solution is building a new BART station, but that’s totally not happening because of the expense. Another solution is far more . . . novel. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Oakland A’s are exploring using a gondola ski lift to transport fans from downtown to the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, where the team is thinking of building a new ballpark . . . an overhead lift that would sail over I-880 and the Southern Pacific railroad tracks that separate downtown from the port.

Teams are always looking for uniqueness when it comes to a new ballpark, and say what you want about a gondola, but it’d certainly be unique.

The article talks about the pros and cons of such a beast and gives examples of other places where gondolas like that are used, though none are pro sports facilities. The article says 4,000-5,000 people could make the trip to the park each hour. If you’re expecting 30,000 people to go to an A’s game and if gates open a couple of hours before the game that’s gonna make things tight. I presume, though, that there will be some parking closer to the park, albeit expensive and/or a bit tricky to get to, and probably some shuttles and the like. As with all parking and transportation systems, we’re talking about “ands” not “ors.”

Still, it’s a bit out there. Certainly a change for A’s fans who, at present, are used to being able to take BART right to game, alighting at the station on the stadium’s premises. Which remains the current top selling point for the Coliseum.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.