Manfred’s pro-Oakland…now what?

Commissioner Rob Manfred last week pledged public support for keeping the A’s in Oakland, sending a message to Lew Wolff and John Fisher that essentially said: “Build in Oakland … now.” Manfred added:

“I am committed to Oakland as a major-league site. If we were to leave Oakland, I think 10 years from now we would be more likely than not looking backward saying we made a mistake.”

Manfred also said expansion would not be considered until the stadium situations in Oakland and Tampa Bay are resolved. And for those guessing the A’s have to wait on a new ballpark until the Raiders figure things out, Manfred refuted that by saying:

… the A’s can’t wait for the Raiders to determine their long-term home and must act independently of the NFL’s stadium pursuit. “I see the football issues as separate,” Manfred said. “Baseball should go ahead…Football will do what football’s going to do. We need to get a baseball facility in Oakland.”

So, there you have it. Manfred wants the A’s in Oakland and he sees no reason why A’s ownership isn’t acting fast to prep and build a new ballpark in Oakland right now. In January, Wolff said the A’s were “in the middle of a 6-to-8-month process” of investigating Oakland ballpark sites. Six months after that quote, Wolff and the A’s have made zero announcements about Oakland sites or if there’s been any progress on that.

Are Wolff and Fisher actually studying new sites in Oakland? If not, why aren’t they? If yes, why the secrecy? And who’s in charge, exactly? A few months ago it was reported that Fisher had replaced Wolff in leading the Oakland ballpark study. But Manfred contradicted that last week, saying that Wolff remains the A’s ownership contact person.

A’s fans, meanwhile, are frustrated. After 11 years of the Wolff-Fisher ownership providing little but murky dysfunction on the ballpark front, few optimists remain. Most A’s fans have grown completely cynical and believe that nothing will change until A’s ownership changes.

Lastly, what role does the Collective Bargaining Agreement play in all of this? When that CBA expires this December, will MLB owners remove the A’s from the revenue sharing dole and force Wolff and Fisher to actually work for their annual millions in profit?

As usual in the Wolff era (since 2003), we are left with more questions than answers.

Manfred

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