OK, let's see if we've got this straight: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who can't get an arena built for the professional team he does have, is now offering to get one built for a professional team he doesn't have?
This is the latest in the bizarre battle over the Oakland A's. The A's, of course, have called the Oakland Coliseum home since 1968, but the team ownership has made it clear they want to leave Oakland for San Jose, which is a much bigger and more lucrative market. However, the San Francisco Giants have the territorial rights to San Jose and are quite unlikely to give them up without a fight.
Major League Baseball, which must rule on the issue, wants to avoid a legal battle at all costs. So, it has done what many of us do when we don't want to make a tough decision -- stall it for three years.
Reports indicate the A's ownership is so frustrated with MLB's pace in deciding the issue that it may call for a vote of the other team owners when they meet in Denver next month.
Enter, unbidden, Mayor Johnson from Sacramento. His city is host to the A's top minor league franchise, which is one of the top operations in minor league baseball. But suddenly Johnson is advancing the notion that maybe the A's should make their home in the Central Valley.
While charmingly quaint, the proposal has about as much a chance of happening as does Bartolo Colon, the A's 265-pound pitcher, joining the Bolshoi Ballet as a dancer
First, the A's ownership group quickly issued a polite thanks-but-no-thanks response to Johnson's proposal. Second, it is difficult to see how Johnson thinks he could pull off such a deal. Sacramento is in jeopardy of losing the one significant professional franchise it does have -- the NBA's Sacramento Kings -- partly because it can't get a suitable arena built in the downtown region.
Talks with the Maloof brothers, the owners of the Kings, to build an arena in downtown Sacramento collapsed in the eleventh hour last spring. Now Johnson, a former NBA player himself, has said it is time to refocus.
He has enlisted Kevin McClatchy -- the former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and whose company owns the Sacramento Bee -- on how to bring big league baseball to a 244-acre rail yards site once proposed for the Kings new home.
"Sacramento is a major league city," Johnson said in a news release. "We're the capital of the one of the largest economies in the world."
With all due respect to the mayor, and we have a good deal of it for him, this play for the A's seems to us to be misguided at this juncture unless it is meant to prod the Maloofs into finally accepting a new arena deal.
The A's fan base in the East Bay may have plenty to worry about, but Sacramento stealing its local baseball team is definitely not one of them.