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MLB Approves The Las Vegas A’s

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Oakland Athletics fans display signs during a reverse boycott game against the Tampa Bay Rays at RingCentral Coliseum on June 13, 2023 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)
Brandon Vallance/Getty Images

Well, that didn't take long. The 30 MLB owners gathered at 8 a.m. Arlington time, and before coffee and crullers were over, the scoopsters told us Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher had received unanimous approval to move his team to Las Vegas. That must have been a spirited debate.

Then again, why would there be? The system's first job is to protect itself, and like every other corporation the owners know that they might someday need a similar solid from their brethren and sistren. Thus, while they know Fisher has been trying to leave Oakland since the day he bought the team 18 years ago and needed all 6,000 days of it to figure out a workable escape plan from the town he disdained, they voted not for his persistence (or if you must, his staggering inability to accomplish his only goal) but for their own potentially grim futures. They don't honor precedent unless they need to invoke it to their own benefit, and this passes as precedent.

So the topic was introduced and quickly disposed of before the low-fat half-caf lattes had cooled. Now, they must have been whispering to themselves, comes the fun part: watching this cameraphobic musk ox of a man try to actually build something that works in a town that has its heart moved by only two things not specifically casino-related: the Golden Knights and the Aces. 

When the topic turns to baseball, the reaction in town is largely, Hey, did you see the Sphere lost $100 million in its first three months? There has never been a groundswell for a baseball franchise, let alone one whose owner has deliberately slow-strangled it after failing to find friendlier climes in six other Bay Area spaces and rejecting a seventh with persistent inaction.

Which is where the tiniest hope of a last-second reprieve for Oakland resides: in the fact that nobody believes in Fisher's acumen on this front. Those 6,000 days of aggressive neglect hide the fact that if he knew how to do the delicate combination of schmoozing, begging, and building, the team would have had a new ballpark in Fremont 15 years ago. He got public financing from the state of Nevada, albeit against considerable opposition that might ultimately get some ballpark proponents unelected, and after a few false starts got a site in Vegas that everyone agrees is too small for profitable use.

In other words, when he says as he told fans on Wednesday, "It's been worse for me than it has for you," his miseries may not yet be over, even though he did manage to transform his public image as an utter cipher of a failson into that of a self-pitying utter cipher of a failson. As is his gift, he made his image worse by speaking.

Oakland fans who have done all the traditional tepid protesting are down to one shard of hope: the notion that Fisher is not just a stubbornly neglectful tenant but incompetent as a potential homeowner. That even if a stadium is built, baseball and maybe even Nevada voters will realize that it could do better than him.

Frankly, it is a forlorn hope—the owners are never going to revisit this disaster in the making when they have the one in Tampa and potential ones in Milwaukee and Kansas City to negotiate soon enough. They gathered to take the word "Oakland" out of their mouths and succeeded in near-record time, and the details will fail or fail more spectacularly on their own. They acted in 14 minutes to fix the problem Fisher couldn't navigate in all the time he owned the team, just so that it wouldn't be their problem any more. They could not have done otherwise, for they are who they and believe what they believe. They didn't vote for Fisher, and they barely voted for Vegas, but they were unanimous that they were fed up with all of it. It's a platform plank that never fails, as no amount of persuasion or sad-face posing can overcome Sorry, but I stopped caring about this long ago.

About 6,000 days ago, more or less.

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