I had no idea that Reggie Jackson attempted to by the Oakland Athletics. It’s a shame it didn’t happen — is there a better way to promote baseball than to have its first black majority owner be a Hall of Famer returning to own a team he once played for?
It’s not that Reggie was outbid for the franchise that retired his number last year; he wasn’t given a fair shot at making an offer. In May, the commissioner’s office told Jackson to sit tight and he’d be given a chance to make a bid. They didn’t give him that chance until December, at which time the current owners of the Athletics had already reached a deal with Lewis Wolff, the Los Angeles real estate developer who will become the team’s new owner. Wolff is currently the vice president for venue development for the team. That is, he’s been trying to figure out where to get the A’s a new stadium, and apparently he’s still going to do that in the Bay Area.
But what really makes this whole deal stink is that Wolff is not just an acquaintance of “commissioner” Bud Selig, he’s his freakin’ fraternity brother. Do you think Wolff, in his efforts to find a place to build a new stadium for the A’s, will look for anything but a publicly financed venue? Would Bud accept anything less?
The thing is, Bud’s done this before. Remember contraction? One team involved, the Montreal Expos, was eventually “sold” to the other 29 owners and moved to Washington, D.C., two years later than it could have been because Bud wanted to make sure he gave Orioles owner Peter Angelos enough of a sweetheart deal.
The other team was the Minnesota Twins, a small-market club that, in the three seasons since the C-word was first uttered, have finished … um, wait, let me look it up here … Ah, yes: First, first and first, with records of 94-67, 90-72 and 92-70 from 2002-2004. Why the Twins? Perhaps because the owner, Carl Pohlad, is a dear, close friend of Bud (also mentioned in the Nightengale column in the previous link) and would have stood to receive a nice “contraction package,” no doubt worth more than the team might bring were it put up for sale.
It’s a shame the way things go down sometimes.