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Thursday, September 3, 2009
Finding a home for the A's

Well, it's (semi-)Official: San Jose wants the A's and the A's want San Jose. From Bloomberg: This is a truly preposterous situation.

I'm not saying the A's can't survive in Oakland, and I'd love to see them stay there and thrive there, just as I wish the Expose had stayed and thrived in Montreal. I have little trouble imagining how I'd have felt if the Royals had left Kansas City when I was younger, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody anywhere.

What's more, the A's poor attendance is due, in part, to Wolff's incessant bad-mouthing of the franchise's current location. Historically, when an owner runs down his stadium and his city, the fans respond by staying away. Naturally.

That said, the Bay Area is plenty big enough for two teams. There are roughly six million people there, which is just slightly more than Philadelphia and Houston, but twice as many as San Diego, St. Louis, and Tampa-St. Petersburg, and significantly more than twice as many as six other areas that currently host major league teams. And of course, the Bay Area has supported two teams for more than 40 years now.

Granted, there have been plenty of bumps along the way, particularly in the 1970s when the Giants almost moved to Toronto and the A's became the sport's biggest joke. But the Giants are doing quite well, now that they've found a suitable home, and I expect the A's to do the same, someday.

It's just not clear that they can find that home in Oakland. And they should be allowed to find it somewhere else, particularly if that somewhere else is 50 miles from the nearest other major league team.

Commissioner Selig has received a great deal of credit for accomplishing the things he's wanted to accomplish, and deservedly so. There's something to be said for making the trains run on time. But there's also something to be said for accomplishing the right things. And making some common-sense adjustments to ancient "territorial rights" is one of the rightest things the Commissioner could do.