Two days ago, this headline appeared at CBSSports.com:
“Las Vegas mayor says Athletics should not relocate despite plans: ‘Figure out a way to stay in Oakland’”
I have said here that there are still hurdles to be crossed before the A’s find a new home, but I must admit that having the mayor of Las Vegas tell the team to “stay away” was not part of my thinking. Mayor Carolyn Goodman has been enthusiastic about and instrumental in getting other sports franchises to come to Las Vegas (Golden Knights and Raiders). She does not have a knee-jerk opposition to making accommodations to franchise owners. In the case of the A’s relocation, she does not like the site that has been selected for the A’s ballpark – – it is on The Strip – – and she thinks it is inadequate in terms of traffic management and acreage. In that CBSSports.com article, Mayor Goodman offered up a bit of mind reading:
“I thought, this does not make sense, and so why is it happening? And then I thought, well, because they really want to stay in Oakland, they want to be on the water, they have that magnificent dream. Yet they can’t get it done … I personally think they’ve gotta figure out a way to stay in Oakland and make their dream come true.”
Does this change the calculus for the A’s ownership? I clearly don’t know the answer to that, but I do believe that this is not a positive occurrence in terms of advancing the A’s relocation process. My reaction to this was to recall something from Robert Townsend’s book Up The Organization:
“It’s a poor bureaucrat who can’t stall a good idea until even its sponsor is relieved to see it dead and officially buried.”
Switching gears … With all the attention focused on the Super Bowl game this weekend, it might slip your mind that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Spring Training in less than 2 weeks. And so, with baseball action around the corner, let me pose a question here:
- Does the profusion of “openers” sometimes leading to “bullpen games” make for a better baseball product or not?
It would be difficult to deny that the importance of starting pitching – – and starting pitchers in general – – has declined in recent years and I submit that the rate of decline is accelerating. Personally, I do not mind the “bullpen game” stratagem by various managers but I accept the unease that other folks might have with those sorts of arrangements – – particularly if they occur in the playoffs or the World Series.
I don’t want to sound like too old a codger here, but there were times in baseball when people would go to a game specifically to see a starting pitcher like maybe Bob Gibson or Greg Maddux or Nolan Ryan when they came to town. Are there any MLB pitchers today who might command that sort of “box office magnetism”? And if not, is that good for baseball or not?
MLB has adopted a bunch of rule changes in the past couple of seasons that would have been labeled as outrageous even 15 years ago. They made the bases bigger, and they added a pitch clock; Babe Ruth was spinning in his grave. Managers came up with “The Shift” to frustrate pull hitters – – and MLB legislated to put limits on “The Shift”. So, it may seem equally outrageous to suggest, but should MLB consider legislating in favor of starting pitching and against “openers” and “bullpen games”?
Moving on … The NBA regular season is about 60% over and in case you have not checked in on happenings in the NBA so far, let me point out that the three teams tied for the lead in the NBA Western Conference with 35-16 records are:
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Denver Nuggets
The Thunder is a team that could be very good for a very long time if injuries or egos do not get in the way. The Thunder’s three leading players are young – – I mean very young:
- Chet Holmgren in 21 years old
- Jalen Williams is 22 years old
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is 25 years old
[Aside: The oldest player on the 15-man roster today is only 30 years old.]
In addition, the Thunder have 3 first round draft picks for this coming June meaning that the core group should get even stronger and younger than it is for now. The Thunder’s coach is Mark Daigneault (at the ripe old age of 38) and if he can manage to keep all that talent – – and potential talent slated to arrive in June – – happy and harmonious, he and the team should do quite well in the next few years.
Having mentioned Robert Townsend above, let me close today with another of his observations from Up The Organization:
“Consultants are people who borrow your watch and tell you what time it is, and then walk off with the watch.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………