They may be a couple years late to the game, but someone in civic administration in the City of Oakland is finally attempting to mount an effort to keep the Oakland A's in Oakland.
Oakland City Attorney John Russo began a media blitz last week designed to build support for keeping the A's, and to simultaneously drive that "Giants' territorial rights" wedge deeper between A's ownership and San Jose. He email-blasted and posted to the city's Web site a strongly-worded condemnation of A's owner Lew Wolff's "sob story" of conditions compelling him to move the franchise, and then went on a media offensive this weekend.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has been characteristically pretty much invisible on the issue, and a City Attorney seems like a long shot candidate to be leading a massive public relations drive. But give Russo credit, he's not backing down from addressing a leadership void in an incredibly daunting, quixotic cause.
Russo's letter pulls no punches, he makes and repeats the bombshell charge of collusion between the A's front office and Major League Baseball. "Moving the A’s to San Jose – which is contractually Giants territory – would require a special deal with Wolff’s old fraternity brother, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig," Russo accuses. "Such a deal would be a blatant example of collusion in baseball and would likely be tied up in court for years."
Russo also personally contacted the Chronicle's "City Brights" blogger Zennie Abraham, who details the Russo's strategic road map and offers additional perspective in a video clip. Abraham, who has worked for previous Oakland mayors Elihu Harris and Jerry Brown, notes the political possibilities in which sympathies for the Giants' territorial rights could play to Oakland's advantage. "With Senators Boxer and Feinstein on the side of the City of Oakland and the City of San Francisco and the Giants, that's a group I wouldn't want to bet against, " Abraham says. "Especially since Senator Barbara Boxer said to me... 'I live in Oakland'."
If Oakland actually does manage to keep the A's, it will be ironic. They'll have joined forces with their rival San Francisco Giants in order to pull it off.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would enjoy being a fly on the wall in John Russo's office when he writes angry letters.