It has become a rite of spring, not unlike stinkweed and incapacitating allergies.
Yes, Lew Wolff is bloviating again.
The A's co-owner, in an interview with Bloomberg News published Tuesday, revisited his favorite whining points vis-à-vis his baseball team and what he believes to be its manifest destiny:
He has no use for Oakland. He doesn't understand why baseball commissioner Bud Selig won't force the Giants to relinquish their territorial rights to San Jose. Building and inhabiting a baseball stadium in San Jose would be the greatest thing since the invention of all-weather tarpaulin.
"I'm aghast that, not so much (Giants managing partner) Bill Neukom, but (Giants president) Larry Baer could be so adamant that we will hurt their team by being 50 miles away," Wolff told Bloomberg. "It's so ridiculous to me. This is really a shovel-ready project that is being stopped by a disagreement with the Giants."
This is a recording.
It's the never-ending story. And frankly, it's losing its charm. There are, however, two new elements to this year's version of The Screed.
One, the A's are coming off their most inspiring offseason in years from a pure baseball standpoint.
Their fine young starting pitchers are a year older, 175 innings deeper into the process of turning promise into something real. As the Giants proved the last few seasons, if you have fine young starting pitching, you have something on which
There's a bullpen capable of giving manager Bob Geren a reliable late-game situational guy/setup guy/closer protocol.
There are five serviceable outfielders, and you know what that means -- a full outfield even when "... er "... if two of them go on the DL.
There are reasons for fans to invest in the team that haven't been evident since, well, you tell us.
It's to this buffet of optimism that Wolff delivers a dirt sandwich. Thanks for your interest. Now get the hell off my lawn.
Secondly, the fine people of San Jose are now far enough along in their professional relationship with Wolff that they might be wondering what kind of business partner this fellow is going to be.
As a reminder, Wolff and majority owner John Fisher proclaimed themselves the third-wealthiest ownership group in baseball when they bought the A's in 2005.
"(General manager) Billy (Beane) and (team president) Mike (Crowley) are going to tell us what they need," Wolff said almost six years ago, "and I am confident we can give them everything they need."
Clearly the man has a liberal interpretation of "need." Not to mention "everything."
It is obvious now that Wolff and Fisher are interested in baseball only as a catalyst for development. You know -- stadiums, villages, that sort of thing. As they have sought development opportunities, the product on the field has withered. Off the field? Wolff has declared the Oakland Coliseum's upper deck off limits. And he has complained about meager attendance. Some people might call that being disingenuous -- the people too kind to invoke a more pointed adjective.
You want the perfect metaphor for the Wolff-Fisher ownership? Last season, for a time, the A's sold $8 beers that fit comfortably into a $5 cup. Check it out -- YouTube doesn't lie.
Wolff has been, for the time being, outflanked by the Giants. Why do the Giants want to stop the A's from moving to San Jose? Because they can. These are the big leagues, Sparky. People protect their self-interests and they play for keeps. Twenty-five years ago, Bob Lurie was led to believe his Giants could play in the Coliseum while a new ballpark was being built in San Francisco. Shortly after he floated that plan in public, he heard from Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson and the Coliseum board: "Oh no you won't."
Stuff happens. What hasn't happened where the A's are concerned is a concerted effort to craft the kind of team and stadium experience that might be attractive to paying customers. Now, finally, an agreeable summer seems at hand, assuming we're able to hear the sound of bat meeting ball above Wolff's caterwauling.
Only Selig knows how the wind is blowing on this issue, and when the final verdict might come down. Gov. Jerry Brown's intent to gas cities' redevelopment agencies creates uncertainty regarding the stadium project's shovel-readiness. But the people of San Jose might want to consider a bit of history even as they endeavor to push this effort forward:
Oakland was thrilled to be associated with Charlie Finley. At first.
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.