Right Field

Moneyball 2.0

The subhead to this gem of an article by Evan Hughes in Grantland is “After a star turn, Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s are still trying to win an unfair game.”

The A’s are hoping for a new ballpark and have their heart set on San Jose. Would it generate enough revenue to boost them a higher plateau in on-field performance and enable them to stay there for a few years?

To the anger of the Oakland faithful, the leading option for a new venue is now 40 miles to the south, in San Jose, where slick stadium renderings have been on the table since 2010. San Jose is one of those stealthily large cities; in population it tops not only Oakland but San Francisco, too. It also has Silicon Valley wealth. To Beane and Lew Wolff, the A’s owner, that translates to higher attendance, luxury box revenue, richer cable contracts, and the ability to attract marquee players. They see the San Jose A’s being able to contend.

The problem is that the San Francisco Giants hold the territorial rights in San Jose and don’t want to surrender them. Selig has been reluctant to force the issue, and the logjam has tried everyone’s patience, though it could break at any time. Beane has invested his hopes in a new stadium before and gotten burned, but that isn’t stopping him this time around. He has said that he has no choice but to forge ahead as if the new park is coming, and he has made it clear that he’s building his team with that in mind, on “a three- to four-year plan.” He cites as a model the early ’90s Cleveland Indians, who finally managed to put together a contending club just in time for the move to Jacobs Field, and then sustained the success for some time. “We’re going to take the same approach,” Beane said in December, “and if there’s a little bit of pain in between, so be it.”

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