In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say, I have loved the Oakland Athletics for a long time now. I love how they are the anti-Yankees, consistently fielding winning teams despite having one of the lower payrolls in the game, and losing superstar after superstar to richer teams. I love their plucky spirit and their annual belief-defying August winning streaks. I love Billy Beane’s flair for the dramatic. I love that they wear white spikes with white pants and that their symbol is a circus elephant. I love that most seasons, their players more closely resemble a beer-league softball team that should have a keg at second base to help guys like Matt Stairs, John Jaha, and Nick Swisher continue to pad their magnificent beer guts, than a major league team.
But now I love them even more.
Because the A’s are going to become the first team in a decade to build a new stadium entirely financed with private funds. The plan is pure genius – get land basically for free from Cisco Systems in exchange for stadium naming rights, and raise funds for construction using private venture capital in exchange for soon-to-be-vaulable commercial real estate around the new stadium. It’s a stadium that pays for itself! It seems so obvious – why didn’t anyone think of this before?
This is the kind of creative thinking outside the box that we have come to expect from the A’s. Ever since Sandy Alderson became the first GM to realize that walks were important, the A’s have been leading the league in brains and common sense. Saddled in the mid-90s with a weak market, a lackluster fan base, a horrible stadium, and a ridiculous refusal by the San Francisco Giants to allow the A’s to move out of the East Bay area, the A’s have figured out ways to maximize their payroll, increase their fanbase, get out of the Oakland projects, and now, get a gleaming, new, FREE stadium that doesn’t cost tax-payers a dime and is 30-miles closer to the cash-laden yuppies of Silicon Valley while still being in the East Bay so no one can accuse them of running out on their die hard fans.
Did I mention that they also keep winning a boatload of games every year?
Truly, the A’s are a team to love among a league of teams to hate.