Lew Wolff, the managing partner of the Oakland A’s, was on the field before Wednesday’s game with the Coliseum awash in sunshine and his team having a magic number of six to win the American League West and all was good.
Yes, the A’s should draw better given their record (89-62) and their lead (6½ games) in the West. Yes, the leaky sewage that once more intruded into public consciousness raised more of a stink than Wolff would have like. And yes, there are stadium issues that face the club now and heading forward.
For this day on the green between the dugout and third base, Wolff was in his element – hoping that his troops could get the home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The A’s came into Wednesday with a one-game lead over the Tigers in the race to host three games in the first round instead of two.
“The energy level is always greater for the home team,’’ Wolff said. “I hope we can get there. I’m not committing to anything yet. It’s obvious we have a home-field advantage, although we have played well on the road and have done well in one-run games.
“The stars are in our favor.’’
Wolff said he looked at what the Tigers were able to do last year – win three home games over the A’s to make it to the AL Championship Series.
Someone brought up the fact that the Tigers, once they got to the ALCS in Yankee Stadium last year, said they were prepared for the energy of the crowds in the Bronx because they’d played in Oakland.
“I didn’t know that,’’ Wolff said, smiling, “but that’s a real compliment. The energy level here is always impressive.’’
The Coliseum, by virtue of its age, and the A’s fan base, by virtue of its relatively small numbers, take heat, but it’s not entirely clear that either should.
Wolff points instead to the real estate mantra: Location, location, location. He says a downtown stadium, whether in Oakland or San Jose, is the key to unlocking the fan base.
“Look at a beautiful day like today,’’ he said. “Downtowns are where the transportation hubs are. People can walk over.
“If we were in a downtown, like most stadiums are now, there’s a chance that people would be around and come out. I doubt very much that a lawyer in downtown Oakland is going to go down the elevator (from his office), get his car and drive to the park.’’
Of course, Oakland doesn’t have a huge corporate infrastructure, which is part of the A’s problem, he says.
“We’ve got a fan base,’’ Wolff said. “We have very little in the way of a corporate base. None of this has to do with fans.
“When we played the Rangers (the last series of 2012 to win the pennant), I think there was more energy here than in some World Series.’