Quite an interesting column by Ray Ratto the other day, and all A’s fans should give it a close read. It will explain exactly why at least some folks at the home finale had the motivation to boo A’s managing partner Lew Wolff when he was introduced during the 40th Anniversary celebration Sunday.
Of course, I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails in the past week that insist the fans were simply chanting “Lew.” Maybe some fans were. For those, I would ask only, “Why?”
Wolff is quickly making himself the A’s least popular owner since Charlie O. Finley (“owner” is a loose term, obviously; the real purse strings are being provided by John J. Fisher, the son of the Gap founder). I know Steve Schott was pretty low on the totem poll after he took over in 1995 and promptly let a whole lot of the A’s staff go, but he recovered. Wolff keeps taking missteps, one after the other.
Look, he may very well have a plan to move the team out of California if his needs in Fremont aren’t met. And he may very well be justified in such a plan (if I were him, I’d be sensing that the whole Cisco Field thing is an exercise in futility). But you don’t say it publicly. Not at a time when people are losing their jobs and spending money is scarce. It’s not only bad form, it’s crass.
Anyway, his latest ramblings are just the latest in a series of missteps by a guy who will need some form of public support to get Cisco Field built. Earlier this summer, he told me he “honestly didn’t know,” if a ballpark would get built. I was so flabbergasted that he’d say such a thing publicly that I later asked the question again, only to get the same answer. That he tried to spin his comments in a more positive direction the next day was an exercise in absurdity.
Bottom line is that the A’s are the least popular they’ve been since the end of the Mark McGwire era. They’ve been bad for half of the season and boring for most of it. That’s as bad as the combination gets when it comes to pro sports. And for all the high-tech ways that sports have advanced, the basic business model calls for teams to attract customers. Having an owner unlease threats _ veiled or real _ won’t exactly light up the season-ticket phone lines.
I guess the good news is that if Wolff does try to move the A’s, perhaps somebody will step forward to save the team for the community (wishful thinking I know). Such a scenario back in the last days of the Finley era yielded the Haas family, and the Haas’ created a gloriful time for the franchise.
Your thoughts on ol’ Sour Lew? You buying his threats? Do you care?