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Firing Bob Geren is not gonna solve the A’s problems

Jun 10, 2011, 9:33 AM EDT

Lew Wolff

If you believe what we’ve been hearing about the Atheltics’ clubhouse issues — and I tend to believe it — Bob Geren had to go. He had lost his team, assuming he ever had ‘em, and it was time for a change.

The second pass at all of that — that it wasn’t Bob Geren who kept the A’s from hitting and kept the pitchers from being healthy — is also true.  The A’s have a bunch of problems. Firing Geren may have been necessary because no one wants to go to work in an office where everyone hates the boss, but it’s not going to dramatically change the factors that are keeping the A’s from winning these days.

But there’s a third layer to the Atheltics’ issues, and that’s fan apathy and the overall health of the franchise, and today Glenn Dickey of the San Francisco Examiner fires both barrels at the man responsible: A’s owner Lew Wolff:

Wolff and John Fisher, his money man, have taken the A’s from a perennially contending team which drew more than 2 million people a year and turned it into an also-ran which is near the bottom in attendance each year. Not easy, but Wolff has been determined to run down the franchise so he can argue that he should be allowed to move to San Jose … This is the way Wolff wants it. He’s done everything he can to force attendance down, closing off almost all the upper deck, ending the popular Fan Fest, sending out media emails prior to seasons saying he has no interest in Oakland. Though he and Fisher are, according to Forbes magazine, the fourth-richest owners in baseball, they’ve spent no money on comforts for fans, content to collect revenue-sharing money from other clubs each year.

The South has tornadoes, the East Coast has hurricanes, Oakland has Lew Wolff.

The A’s could be losing no matter who sat in the owners’ chair. But they didn’t have to be a depressing slog for the fans who have been given absolutely no reason to care about the future of the team.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Jun 10, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    This is so typical of the MLB beaurocracy. First the owner, one of only 30 so he should have some say in the matter, wants to move the team. A neighboring team does want them where they propose to go, so MLB has a long winded committee come to stonewall. It becomes who is Bud’s favorite.
    Since a steady stream of revenue sharing comes in (courtesty of a certain team) then we cut expenses without loss of profit, making fans and players and managers’ lives more miserable by the season.
    This becomes a way of life for people like Wolff, almost a business practice.
    Where have you gone, Kenesaw Moutain Landis, George Steinbrenner, or for that matter, Ayn Rand?

    • royalsfaninfargo - Jun 10, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      Somewhere Connie Mack is wearing his suit and tie /the top hat plotting his revenge against Wolf!

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 10, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    with guys like him and Loria around, it seems silly that people try to point to the Yankees and Red Sox as problematic owners.

    Who is John Galt?

    • yankeesfanlen - Jun 10, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      Wasn’t he a back up 3rd baseman for the Giants in ’54 who couldn’t get along with Leo the Lip?

  3. reospeedwagon916 - Jun 10, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    This team is a total black hole and the root cause is ownership. It has become ever obvious that Wolff owns the team as a means for a real estate deal. Once or if he ever gets it, I’d almost guarantee he’ll sell the team at a premium valuation. As a sports fan, that has to make you disappointed.

    The problem for Wolff though is he is 100% stuck in Oakland indefinitely. The South Bay has had proposals and balked. Tax payer funded stadiums almost never happen in this state and I have a hard time believing Wolff will put up his own scratch. My only hope as an A’s fan is he gets so frustrated he sells the team.

    • Tick - Jun 10, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      The problem is, Selig seems to be supporting this plan and want the A’s out of Oakland too. Before Wolff he blocked the sale of the team to a group of local investors led by Joe Morgan that wanted to pump cash into the team and make sure the A’s stayed in Oakland. Selig has always acted cold towards Oakland and determined to give the Giants free reign over the Bay Area. There is no way owners should be allowed to purposely demolish their teams like this.

  4. antifreeze27 - Jun 10, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    Wasn’t this the plot of Major League? So everything will be cool if they can just find a drunk old catcher with bad knees and President Palmer? I hear Charlie Sheen is looking for work too… Just don’t pitch to Clu Haywood. That guy led the league in everything including nose hairs.

    • reospeedwagon916 - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      I’m trying to not picture the team slowly unveiling a nude cardboard cutout of Lew Wolff as their magic number approaches….

  5. mcchef - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    How come there is no mention of Billy Beane in this article. My brother is a huge A’s fan and we have discussed the preformance of the GM several times, with the both of us questioning the value of Beane. Of course, the money issues are not the responsibility of Beane ( losing Tim Hudson, Giambi, Tejada even Mulder) but the personnel choice he makes are questionable. the A’s decided they could pay one of their big stars at the time, and they chose Eric Chavez. Both Andre Ethier and Carlos Gonzalez could be in the Athletics outfield right now. Also, though they are not big dollar acquisitions, the A’s spent most of their money this past offseason on Brian Fuenets (yikes!) for an already strong bullpen and on an aging DH who can’t hit lefties in Hideki Matsui. Beane has overloaded with marginal talent in the OF with guys like Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, Conor Jackson and David Dejesus (slightly above marginal, atleast used to be), while letting the homegrown, Youthful talent like Ryan Sweeney, Chris Carter and Michael Taylor continue to bang around in the minors or collect dust on the bench. They recently called up Jamile Weeks, so there is hope. Just so this is not all negative, Beane and the A’s brass has done well putting together a pitching staff.

    • scatterbrian - Jun 10, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Gonzalez now has just over 1200 plate appearances with the Rockies. Splits:

      .346/.401/.656/1.056
      .266/.316/.426/.743

      If you didn’t guess, those are home/road splits. I know he’s still young, but that doesn’t look very promising.

  6. jimbo1949 - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Philly, KC, Oakland. Wandering in the desert, soiling their nightclothes wherever they’ve pitched their tents. Maybe it’s time someone made them clean up the mess and stay put. Even two time losers like the Braves made it work the third time.

  7. APBA Guy - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Too bad this article was only in the Examiner. But it’s high time Wolff was called on his kindly grandfather act.

    To be fair, the negotiating climate with the city of Oakland was enough to force the hand of any owner. The contract the A’s have makes them decidedly second-class citizens to the Raiders in terms of attendance derived revenue. And Wolff’s initial dealings with the city council gave him the cover he needed to expand his search to the South Bay, as the city repeatedly refused to deal with the A’s in any kind of above-board way.

    That said, there is no question that Wolff/Fisher have been a catastrophe for Oakland and A’s fans. The results speak for themselves. The operating modus has been the Angelos Way, profiting from revenue sharing while the park remains empty, except for the Yankees and Red Sox games, and even those don’t always sell out anymore.

    I am always reluctant to lay all the performance blame at the foot of the GM, because we rarely know to what extent the GM is executing the owner’s vision, such as with Sabean during the McGowan years at SF. But the Great and Powerful Beane has worked no miracles during the Wolff/Fisher years, and right now the front-office approach is to play “me-too” to the Giants, emulating, or trying to, their formula of mid-tier free agent offense to supplement quality starting pitching. The difference is the Giants farm system produces some quality hitters, and the Giants pitchers don’t get injured like the A’s do. And of course, none of the A’s pitchers are Timmy.

    But the worst, most inexcusable affront is the ticket pricing at the Mausoleum combined with an absurd increase in parking fees, both of which have skyrocketed since the glory years even as the CA economy has crashed from two successive recessions that heavily impacted the local population (dot-com bust and current housing bust). Oakland doesn’t attract a corporate clientele like SF does. The fans are mainly regular citizens. Fans just can’t afford to see a team at the price levels the A’s have established. And those who can afford it are offended by the product on the field. There is easily computed higher value for a fan’s entertainment dollar elsewhere.

    The message to fans from Wolff/Fisher is quite clear: if you chumps are stupid enough to come watch this skeleton of a once great franchise that we would love to relocate, we’ll take your money. All of it.

  8. dogsweat1 - Jun 10, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Las Vegas A’s……………..

    • reospeedwagon916 - Jun 10, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      Nice idea but you are still stuck with a stadium problem.

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