THAT "favorite uncle" image that Oakland A's co-owner Lew Wolff likes to project is wearing thin. He's looking more and more like the bad seed of the family.
Not quite Bernard Madoff disingenuous, but in the same ballpark.
Wolff would prefer to bilk Oakland out of millions, not Madoff billions, in future ballpark revenue by moving the A's out of Oaktown in the most egregious manner — and then be delighted in making it appear that it's all Oakland's fault.
This smacks so clearly of collusion with his old college frat pal, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who publicly has said that the A's coming to Oakland was a "terrible mistake."
Mistake? How many World Series have your Milwaukee Brewers won, Buddy boy? Try the next number below one. Oakland has four World Series championship flags flying.
And the A's have, at least, matched the Brewers in attendance, even though the A's are in a two-team market, while the Brewers have all those baseball Cheeseheads to themselves.
Uncle Lew has been deceptively clever, picking out a "ballpark village" site across 66th Avenue from the Coliseum, knowing full well that the businesses there wouldn't budge.
Meanwhile, Uncle Lew wouldn't even look at the other side of the Coliseum, where Interstate 880 meets Hegenberger Road, and where there's plenty of open space for a ballpark village.
AT&T Park, Camden Yards and other recently built retro-style ballparks are squeezed into similar acreage. But Uncle Lew deemed Fremont his ballpark paradise, even though the two spots he picked out were nowhere near an existing BART station, a mandatory point in his Oakland ballpark demands.
Fremont didn't want him anyway, though you know Uncle Lew has been thinking about San Jose all along, because the Prune City is an integral part of his building empire. Only there's a hang-up there, too, because San Jose falls within the San Francisco Giants' self-declared "territorial rights." Selig isn't about to mess with that scenario, not after the Giants have been buzzing in his ear for years to get the A's out of here.
San Jose, like Fremont, might not want the A's regardless. So what's left in Uncle Lew's so-called game plan to keep the A's in Northern California? Sacramento? Lodi? Weaverville? Give me a break. If he can't make it work in Oakland, then he's disingenuous to the core.
That prime property just south of the Coliseum is perfect — too perfect. It has a highway next to it, as well as BART. A huge parking lot already is there. The Oakland Raiders could have the Coliseum all to their blackhearted selves. Thus nobody has to move. What's not to like?
Now, I'm not blaming Uncle Lew for everything. Oakland had a chance to build a downtown ballpark, with the restored Fox Theater directly behind center field. But then-Mayor Jerry Brown told an Oakland politician that "a ballpark will be built there over my dead body."
Brown, who doesn't know a baseball bat from a croquet mallet, fired City Manager Robert Bobb, a ballpark proponent, and built the Forest City housing development right where the A's would have played — a housing development, by the way, that now has limited occupants.
And the A's took it on the chin when the Raiders came back; the Coliseum was redesigned to favor the eye-patched prodigal sons. The old bleachers where Hendu's Bad Boys congregated and conferred with their hero, Dave Henderson, were gone along with the good times, replaced by limited sightlines for fans. Who was the architect? The nearsighted Mr. Magoo?
So it's not entirely Uncle Lew's fault. His predecessor as A's owner, Steve Schott, was as cold as a tailgate brew. He refused to step to the plate financially in terms of a new ballpark unless pulled by his fingernails.
But Brown doesn't escape so easily. If Washington, D.C., could be granted a third Major League Baseball franchise — as it was in 2005, when the Montreal Expos moved to the nation's capital to replace two failed teams called the Senators — Oakland could have built a ballpark. Wrong mayor.
Oakland needs another Walter A. Haas Jr., the best owner that ever was, with nary a disingenuous bone in his body. Wolff won't ever be Mr. Haas, but stop repeating the big lie, Uncle Lew, that you're finished in Oakland while portraying Oakland as the reason.
Your keg-party chum Selig let the steroids era develop and then rage forward with his blinders on. Now that's a "terrible mistake." He's the last one to be throwing stones at Oakland.
As for you, Uncle Lew, sit down with Oakland politicos pronto and negotiate a ballpark deal on an available plot of land that's targeted for redevelopment anyway.
For 30 years, I've written columns on the A's often stormy relationship with Oakland. Larry Jackson became engaged in the same relationship, mostly out of his own pocket, around the turn of the century. He contends it was his downtown ballpark plan that was aborted.
Jackson, 52, of Hayward, works as an AT&T administrator, helping East Bay residents get their dial tones. He's a father of two and a grandfather of three who has watched the A's since 1968, their first year in Oakland.
So how good is the south-of-Coliseum site?
"It's an ideal place," he said, "because it produces for Oakland a piece of land that serves a baseball purpose only — baseball and retail, really. A nice, clean pristine area where Lew Wolff can build what he wants "... an entertainment mecca for the Bay Area."
Jackson envisions a ballpark with seating for about 40,000. He is convinced that Wolff's 66th Avenue ballpark village plan was a "red herring." That's because he thinks Wolff and Selig have been in collusion from day one and that "Oakland got played royally "... and we've paid for it ever since."
He predicts that the A's won't wind up in San Jose and that rumors of their heading to Las Vegas are weightless because of "book." Selig won't relocate a team to a gambling empire — even though more cities nationwide are sprouting casinos.
This means the best place for the A's is Oakland, just across the parking lot from where they've played for more than 40 years.
Nothing new, Uncle Lew.
Dave Newhouse's columns appear Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, usually on the Metro page. Know any Good Neighbors? Call 510-208-6466 or e-mail email@example.com.
Larry Jackson, of Hayward, is a proponent of keeping the A's in Oakland and has an ideal stadium
site to show A's owner Lew Wolff. Jackson wants the new stadium to be near the Oakland Coliseum.