Point/Counterpoint: Should The A's Move?

Robert McGlinchey and Melissa Lockard argue both sides of a very sensitive topic for A's fans; the future of the team in Oakland. Robert argues that the A's would be better off in San Jose and Melissa states her case for keeping the team in Oakland. Read both sides to decide for yourself...

Point…
Do A's fans know the way to San Jose?

By Robert McGlinchey

Since moving to California late in the 60's, the Oakland Athletics have had tremendous success in the Bay Area. The Athletics continue to produce winning teams year after year. Why is it nobody seems to care?

Overall, the Athletics have produced more winning seasons and pennants than the Giants. The Athletics have brought more World Series titles to the Bay Area than the Giants. Why is it that Giant fans out-number Athletics fans in the Bay Area?

The Athletics are constantly treated like second-class citizens. Even smokers are treated better than the Athletics. When the Athletics and Giants met face to face in 1989, even a giant earthquake could not even stop the Athletics from beating the Giants in four games.

Why is it that the Giants are considered the home team of Northern California? Is it because of their intimate ballpark? Is it because the Giants have squatters rights in the Bay Area? After all, the Giants were here first.

The only way the Athletics can survive is to move to another area, specifically San Jose.

Let's take a look at why San Jose is better than Oakland when it comes to baseball!

Economics:

When it comes to money San Jose is truly superior to Oakland. The Silicon Valley is booming economically. There is a ton of money to be spent in Santa Clara County. Money that could be put into the Athletics organization. If the Athletics had at least 80 percent of their stadium full every night, the Athletics could keep their star players. This would also help the Athletics bring in free agents from other teams.

Oakland is depressed economically and socially. The schools in Oakland are struggling. Oakland's economy is about as thriving as Newark, New Jersey. Oakland's crime rate continues to soar. What little money the city of Oakland has, it does not go towards Athletics baseball. Oakland is constantly at the bottom of California's most livable cities. While San Jose is at the top of the list.

Weather:

I sometimes wonder what the tourists think when they arrive in San Francisco and Oakland in the summer. As they get off they plane ,they are in shorts, but by the end of the evening they are buying overcoats and knit hats. If I can make a suggestion to the California tourism web site, it would be to put an asterisk next to the word "California." The asterisk would read, "all major cities are warm in the summertime except Oakland and San Francisco."

These two cities are great for football weather, but horrendous for baseball. However, San Jose has a great climate in the summer, quite often baseball fans could wear shorts to an Athletics game in the Silicon Valley.

Attendance:

Oakland and the East Bay are passionate about their teams. Oakland is a football town, a great one at that. The Raiders are the bloodline of this community. Despite fickle ownership and no Super Bowl trophy since 1984, the Raiders continue to be the talk of the town year round.

The Warriors are second to the Raiders. The Warriors have not won a NBA title in the 30 years. The Warriors have not made the playoffs since the Clinton administration. Yet, the Warriors have a strong and loyal fan-base. Should the Warriors ever win a NBA championship, Warrior fans would celebrate through the night. Oakland does support its teams, just not the Athletics.

San Jose has proven that it can support professional sports. With having only two major league teams born in its city, San Jose has supported them tremendously. The San Jose Sharks have been one of the most productive franchises in the history of hockey. The Sharks have been selling out every game since birth. San Jose Sharks gear is always in the top five in sales every year. San Jose even loves and supports its Arena Football team. Win or lose Sabercat fans continue to support its franchise. Even though the AFL has failed in other cities, San Jose is not one of them.

Out of three sports we have been talking about, baseball is still the leader in the Bay Area. That is why moving the Athletics to San Jose would be the wisest thing to do for the Athletics franchise and its fans.

What a joy it would be to see the Athletics playing in small intimate stadium with 40,000 people every game. The Athletics could actually compete with the Yankees and Giants each year. I can only hope that there will be a day when the Athletics are the number one team in standings and fan support in the Bay Area. I only hope the owner of the Athletics knows the way to San Jose!

…Counterpoint

Oakland is what makes the A's unique

By Melissa Lockard

The Athletics baseball franchise is one of the most storied in baseball history. From its proud early days in Philadelphia to the dark times as the New York Yankees' "farm system" while in Kansas City, the Athletics have always been interesting. But it was when the Athletics became the A's and, more specifically, the Oakland A's, that the franchise turned the corner from merely interesting to fascinating.

Charlie Finley took advantage of baseball's western expansion to uproot the organization from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. He brought with him an ornery personality and a showman's mentality. Finely was looking for an opportunity to play with the traditions of baseball and found that Oakland was the perfect place for him to experiment with wild colored uniforms, crazy mule mascots and unusual promotions. He built a team that mirrored the personality of the Bay Area at that time: extremely talented, successful, zany and tough. Each player had a mustache, a nickname, and, most importantly, a pair of white cleats. Along the way, he won three World Series titles, bringing the Bay Area it's first professional sports championships.

Ever since they moved into the Oakland Coliseum, the A's have cultivated a unique history filled with characters both on and off the field. It was at the Coliseum that Crazy George led the "wave" for the first time in front of a national television audience. It was also in Oakland that Billy Martin and his band of rubber-armed pitchers and fleet-footed outfielders carved out their own unique brand of baseball, the first version of "Billy Ball".

The late-1980s ushered in the era of the Bash Brothers and the Banjo Man in the stands. Sandy Alderson and Tony LaRussa used this time to revolutionize baseball in their own unique ways: Sandy with his emphasis on statistical analysis for player evaluation and Tony with his use of situational relievers. It was also during this time that the A's became, if only briefly, the darlings of the Bay Area.

The A's were the best team in baseball from 1988 to 1992, led by the biggest superstars in the game and baseball's biggest payroll. Oakland also had a beloved owner, Walter Haas. The Coliseum was filled regularly during those days, in part because many believed that the Coliseum was one of the nicest stadiums in all of baseball (and certainly was a much more appealing place to watch a game than Candlestick Park). In fact, interest in the A's was so high during that time that the San Francisco Giants were almost allowed to leave town without a fight.

The Giants ended up staying in San Francisco and were bought by Peter Magowan, who opened his pocketbook to sign Barry Bonds and later to build Pac Bell Park. Meanwhile, Oakland brought back the Raiders and reconfigured the Coliseum in a way that favored football more than baseball. Walter Haas passed away and was replaced by Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman. Schott and Hoffman never endeared themselves to A's fans and soon the crowds at the Coliseum diminished. By the late-1990s, the Giants were once again firmly the darlings of the Bay Area and the A's were struggling to survive.

Then a funny thing happened. Just as many were ready to write off the A's chances to compete both on and off the field, the A's shocked the world and won the 2000 American League West title. Soon interest in the A's picked up. Like the successful Oakland A's teams of the past, the A's of the past six seasons have been led by a group of young, brash players and a forward-thinking front office. Although the A's still don't draw as many fans as the Giants, they are no longer in the lower third of attendance of league-wide figures and are continuing to draw a legion of followers as unique as the team itself.

While the Coliseum's large dimensions can make even a 30,000 person crowd look sparse, games at the Coliseum have developed a carnival-like atmosphere that is unique to the A's and to Oakland. Many of the players have compared the crowds in Oakland to the enthusiastic crowds in the Dominican Republic. The stands are filled with banners, flags and people using horns, drums and their unique chants to make themselves heard. Almost every player has his own fan club and some of the fan clubs remain in operation even after the player has moved on.

I don't think it is any coincidence that some of baseball's most unique teams and most interesting players over the past 40 years have been Oakland A's. I also don't think that it is a coincidence that so many major league baseball players are from the East Bay. Talented athletes like Dave Stewart, C.C. Sabathia, Jimmy Rollins and Dontrelle Willis have all admitted that their interest in baseball began at the Oakland Coliseum while they were watching the A's.

Without a doubt, the A's need a new stadium. It is a crime every August to watch the beautifully manicured Coliseum outfield grass torn up by 300 pound football behemoths. A new stadium would also, without question, increase the A's revenue and their chances to continue to compete with the big guns in the American League. However, I believe that that stadium has to be built in Oakland.

No other sport is more tied to its history than baseball. And the city of Oakland has been an important part of the fabric of baseball's illustrious past. While it is true that the San Francisco Giants will always be the dominant team in the Bay Area in terms of media coverage, it shouldn't prevent the A's from staying in Oakland. Every two-team market has a dominant team and a less dominant team. However, just because the White Sox, Mets and Angels don't get the same respect from their local media as the Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers doesn't mean that those teams shouldn't stay in their respective cities.

Moving the A's to San Jose won't change the A's status as the second team in the Bay Area. A San Francisco team is always going to be number one in the Bay Area media because San Francisco is the center of the Bay Area. However, a move to San Jose would cut the A's off from a large part of their fan-base that lives in the East Bay up through Sacramento. And it will also cut them off from their unique history in Oakland.

While there is arguably more sponsorship money in the Silicon Valley, there are still plenty of major companies (World Savings, Kaiser Permanente, Clorox, Chevron, Summit Medical, Leap Frog, Pixar to name a few) in the East Bay who could be targeted for sponsorship at a new stadium and plenty of wealthy East Bay suburbs with families who have money to spend on season tickets. Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman didn't help the A's attendance any with their constant bad-mouthing of the Coliseum and the A's fan-base. New owner Lewis Wolff has thus far shown himself to be a lot more fan-friendly than his predecessors, which can only help at the gate. And as the A's attendance glory years from 1988 through 1992 demonstrated, there are plenty of fans in the East Bay who will fill the seats of a new park in Oakland.

Building a new stadium in Oakland would allow the A's to appeal to the fans who have been turned off by the antiquity of the Coliseum while also still keeping that carnival atmosphere that comes with the fans who fill the seats now. As the saying goes, there is no Oakland without the A's and there shouldn't be the A's without Oakland.

Views expressed in these columns are the views of the authors only and are not necessarily endorsed by OaklandClubhouse.com or Scout.com.

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