Steve Schott whispered it during his decade as managing partner of the A's, with MLB commissioner Bud Selig nodding in agreement and eventually echoing the sentiment.

Schott's successor, the disarming yet shrewd Lew Wolff, has spent the past five years shouting it, while his pal the commissioner attempts the impossible task of concealing what sounds and looks and smells like a conspiracy.

Somewhere along the way, as San Jose was becoming paradise and Fremont the geographically suitable alternative, after the Raiders returned it was determined by these folks that Oakland is an unfit parent for its baseball team.

Not enough corporate money, Wolff moans. Nowhere to build a new ballpark, he gripes. No point in trying to be successful in Oakland, he groans. Oakland is, Wolff sighed a year ago, a colossal waste of time.

How can we expect his man Bud to conclude otherwise?

The fate of the A's-Oakland relationship sits in the hands of the commissioner, who in the coming days is expected to rule whether Oakland deserves to keep the A's.

Oakland can only consider that a warning.

Even as A's fans unite with Oakland businesses and politicians in an effort to keep the team in the city, it has long been clear Wolff wants to put the team in San Jose, which he considered the ideal home years before he bought into the franchise.

In the 11 months that have passed since Selig convened a committee to examine future prospects for a ballpark in Oakland, Wolff has been about as patient as his superficial exasperation will allow. He wants it known that he doesn't understand why it's taken so long for his college fraternity brother to abide by a basic fraternal oath: Thou shall always find a way to "hook up" his frat brother — even if the Giants claim territorial rights.

Well, it takes time for the commish pull this off without making it look as if the plot was hatched years ago, in the private room of a steakhouse, sealed with the secret frat bro handshake.

In Bud's favor, though, is his rich history of vocal disinterest in Oakland as it pertains to the A's.

He is the commish who in 1999 oversaw a vote against grocery executive Bob Piccinini, who had assembled a group and made an offer to buy the A's while stating his intention to rebuild the Walter Haas model of bonding the team with the community.

Selig is the man who showed up in Oakland in 2004 squawking about the A's inability to compete in the Coliseum, dismissing such inconvenient truths as the team's four consecutive trips to the playoffs and its 392 wins during those seasons — the winningest four-year stretch in team history.

He is the man who, with Schott and partner Ken Hofmann ready to sell, reached out to Wolff and brokered the deal for him to buy in.

Selig followed that up by meeting with John Fisher and, along with Wolff, getting the Gap billionaire to put up most of the $180 million required to complete the deal.

It was Selig who said it was "a terrible mistake" for Charles O. Finley to move the A's from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968.

All Wolff had to do was neglect the Oakland fan base, put enough apathy in the air to trick the attendance. Done, done and done.

So, then, the decision rests with a man who has been Wolff's good friend for more than 50 years, actually recruited him into the brotherhood of baseball ownership and has stated his aversion to seeing the A's in Oakland.

Then, too, Bud is nearing retirement and wants to be remembered as more than the bookish cat who presided over the Steroid Era. Ever heard him boast about baseball's "renaissance," how it has never been more prosperous — or built more ballparks?

With Fisher at his back, Wolff has made it his mission to save the A's from the fans who have supported them, and from the city that hosted their four World Series victory parades. That's more than the other four California teams combined in the 42 years that the A's have been in Oakland.

That tradition notwithstanding, how do we not expect the predictable? In the business of sports, like the business of anything else, nothing short of corporate blackmail can open doors as efficiently as having the hook-up.

And Lew has the hook-up. As skillful as Bud is at deflecting accountability, even he can't create a tale credible enough to suggest otherwise.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com.