What It Means When We Talk about Lew Wolff, the Politics of Baseball and Sewage
This is plumbing. S*&%t happens.
An increasingly swelling black eye of a public relations disaster fell upon the green and gold this week when after a resounding 10-2 baiting of the Seattle Mariners last Sunday, the sewage system inside the Oakland Coliseum’s home and visitor clubhouses as well as trainers rooms and offices decided to pull their best Brian Fuentes impression and blow a barrage of raw sewage in the bowels of the Coliseum. The issue was such that both teams had to shower in the Oakland Raiders’ (the Coliseum’s longstanding and equally unpleased co-tenant) locker room before both teams hopped a flight to their next respective opponent. Some members of each team’s coaching staff had to even forego a shower before their privately charted first class flight and I for one would hate to be the guy sitting next to good ‘ol Mikey “Gags” Gallego if the third base boss didn’t get a shower in.
But lingering passive aggressiveness towards Brian Fuentes and Gags aside, this has become quite the trending topic this week. The key points brought up however weren’t anything we haven’t heard before: Lew Wolff and friends want out of Oakland for the greener pastures of San Jose very badly while Panda Hat, Inc. owns territorial rights to San Jose and are furious at MLB for even considering the notion that a team could move in on their turf. While this lingers, the city Oakland and prominent local investors continue an impressive and convincing grass roots branding and marketing campaign to keep the A’s in Oakland albeit in a new, downtown venue as Bud Selig’s committee to explore these options and more is in its fourth year of filibuster. On top of all this comes a lawsuit the city of San Jose is potentially filing against MLB for, amongst a number of complaints, distress like damages for failing to come to a decision on the fate of the A’s in a timelier manner. And to top it all off, local politicians from all angles are chomping at the bit to give a sound bite to any media outlet who will listen. So in summation, a flood of raw sewage being reported as something strong enough to burn the whiskers off Ray Fosse’s mustache has become the perfect metaphor for when politicians, crooked real estate focused owners, executives and sports all collide.
But back to the poor, old “Coli” who took quite a beating this week in its carpet cleaning bill and in the press. Yes the structure is outdated and old at a frighteningly out-to-pasture age of 47 but it seemed as if none of the talking heads were focused on anything but the busted pipes and Mike Gallego’s plane stench as being the reason for a mass exodus instead of why this happened in the first place. Let’s remember that pipes do burst from time-to-time for a number of reasons no matter what condition or age the venue in question is in and after all the posturing it turns out the pipes were perfectly fine and up to code but busted because somebody(s) clogged them up by flushing something they probably shouldn’t have (keep in mind it was Grant Balfour Raging Gnome Giveaway Day and Balfour did take Brian Fuentes’ closer role. Do you know Brian Fuentes’ exact whereabouts on Sunday? Just saying.) So what’s clear to me in all this murky sewage is that a lot of frustrated greedy people who care more about the green than the green and gold found the perfect excuse to throw one another under the bus marked “Probably San Jose but just Maybe Oakland or Maybe we Sell” and remind us once again that what’s in the best interest of the fan and their ability to enjoy their team in their city remains an afterthought. By the way, all this is was going down while the A’s dropped one of the most crucial series of the year in Texas to now put them only a game in front of the Rangers for first place in the A.L. West. We need some more depth at the bottom of the order and our bullpen had been looking shaky at best this series. Where are Lew Wolf’s and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reid’s comments on that?!
If owners, MLB and local politicians perhaps invested as much effort into the product on the field as they do in the courtrooms, then we as fans may finally get that Roto Rooter of a good time we’ve always been promised yet always seems to get lost down the drain.