OAKLAND — It has been their story throughout this season, and with each significant change, the A's have stuck with it.
Each move that has sent away a familiar face and brought in an untested one, A's executives have said again and again, has been done with the future in mind.
But where that future will take place remains in as much question as ever, especially after managing partner Lew Wolff told Bay Area News Group he's unsure if the team's attempt to build a new state-of-the-art ballpark in Fremont will succeed.
"I don't know. I honestly don't," Wolff said Wednesday when asked if Cisco Field will come to fruition. "But say it doesn't. We're still under a lot of pressure to get a park that is our own. That isn't going to go away. So my hope is that we'll find a way to make it happen. It has not been as easy as I thought it would be."
The same could be said for the travails of his team in July.
The A's capped an 8-17 month — their worst since going 9-18 in the same month a year ago — by losing 4-3 in 10 innings to the Kansas City Royals at McAfee Coliseum. The A's lost all three games to Kansas City, the first time that had happened in Oakland since 1988, and they've dropped 12 of 14 overall to fall below .500 for the first time since they were 3-4 on April 6.
Wolff's team did remain intact — at least in its current incarnation — for another day, though a flurry of rumors figures to abound
Closer Huston Street (2-4), whose name has been linked to rumors involving the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox in recent days, boarded the team charter to Boston after surrendering Jose Guillen's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th and taking the loss.
Already this month, the A's have moved starting pitchers Rich Harden (to the Chicago Cubs) and Joe Blanton (to the Philadelphia Phillies) and reliever Chad Gaudin (to the Cubs). That followed an offseason in which another starter, Dan Haren, and outfielder Nick Swisher, perhaps the team's most popular player, were dealt to Arizona and the Chicago White Sox, respectively.
The face lift, combined with the midsummer collapse, has not been easy on the A's paying customers, who are turning out at their lowest rate since 1999. The A's did draw 26,272 Wednesday to their annual MUG Root Beer Float Day, but they've surpassed 25,000 for only 18 of their 59 home dates at the Coliseum. They rank 27th out of 30 teams in average attendance.
A new venue supposedly would alleviate such issues, but Wolff acknowledged that such a prospect is closer to limbo than it is reality. Wolff said the team continues to wait for the environmental impact reports to be finished, and that the need to satisfy several constituencies has slowed the progress.
"It is now in flux," Wolff said. "All I can say is we're working hard every day, because our options if we fail, we really haven't thought about those options."
Wolff admitted that the process has frustrated him at times, but that it's been the price of trying to construct something in California. He also said any reports that intimate the team is seeking public money are misrepresented.
"We haven't asked for any money," he said. "And I'm tired of people assuming we are."
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