Manfred says Oakland A’s need ballpark deal ‘quickly’

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LOS ANGELES ⁠— Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Oakland Athletics need to quickly reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark and that relocation could be considered if a deal isn’t struck for a facility in the Bay Area.

“I was at the Coliseum myself recently,” he told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday before the All-Star Game. “The condition of the Coliseum is a really serious problem for us. I’ve said it, this is not news. It is not a major league-quality facility at this point.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is pushing for approval of a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted last month to reclassify a 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built. The team, under controlling owner John Fisher, also has explored a possible new ballpark in Las Vegas.

An Oakland City Council vote on a ballpark is possible later this year.

“Mayor Schaaf continues to work hard to try to get an arrangement, an agreement to develop the Howard Terminal site,” Manfred said. “I’m hopeful that that can still happen. And I said this recently and I’ll repeat, it needs to happen now. It needs to be done.”

The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season.

After proposing and withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood. The stadium would cost more than $1 billion, with views toward San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and Port of Oakland.

After trading veterans and cutting payroll to a major league-low of $48 million on opening day, the A’s are an AL-worst 32-61 and have drawn a big league-worst 362,756 in home attendance, an average of 8,637.

“I think Oakland, the A’s, face an extraordinarily difficult situation. John Fisher has invested literally tens of millions of dollars over the entire period of my commissionership in an effort to get a stadium done in Oakland,” Manfred said. “I think that negativity always accompanies the situation where players are traded and a club for whatever set of reasons decides to start over. But I think bigger picture, John is committed and has invested really significant dollars in trying to get baseball in Oakland on an even footing, a sustainable footing over the long haul.”

A’s President Dave Kaval said last month he has made weekly trips to Las Vegas, investing time on design work and feasibility studies. Manfred declined to discuss whether MLB would waive charging the team a relocation fee – MLB has not charged relocation fees in the past.

“Mr. Fisher has to make a decision as to whether he wants to make an agreement or can make an agreement that is approved by the City Council that would keep the A’s in Oakland,” Manfred said. “If that’s not possible, we have a process that deals with an application for relocation, and I assume that’s where it goes if in fact no agreement can be made in Oakland.”

Baseball owners have put off possible expansion from 30 teams to 32 until Oakland and Tampa Bay get deals for new ballparks.

“I need to get Oakland and Tampa resolved before we could realistically have a conversation about expansion,” Manfred said.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”