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Game 27: A’s at Twins

Josh Winder makes a case for continued starting opportunities, here against the White Elephants.

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Minnesota Twins v Tampa Bay Rays
Wearing what Michael Cuddyer once called “one of those football numbers.”
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Spring finally here, 70° at first pitch

Opponent’s SB site: Athletics Nation

TV: BS North Extra, Free Game Of The Day (out-of-market). Radio: Did Gladden posion Provus on Thursday, I’m just asking questions

There will be one reasonably young, reasonably inexperienced lefthander starting for Oakland today. 28-year-old Cole Irvin, the scheduled starter as of Thursday night, has had some throwing-shoulder tightness lately; if he can’t go, it’ll be 26-year-old Zach Logue. Irvin throws a low-90s 4-seamer and sinker, a low 80s slider, and a change. The slider is average, the fastballs barely above.

I could find nothing weirdly interesting about Cole Irvin, whose name is so generic you could swear there’s already been three MLBers by that name (nope, this is the only one). His nickname is “Swervin’ Irvin,” either because his slider killed at lower levels or because he’s a terrible driver. I’m not going to even try looking up Zach Logue. (Irvin has 1.12 seasons of "service time," Logue has 1.1 innings.)

Twins starter Josh Winder, who came out of camp in the long relief/emergency starter Anthony Swarzack role (minus the crazy) was terrific in his spot start on Sunday, blanking Tampa Bay over six innings. Pointlessly small-sample 2022 digits:

If last Friday we looked at the ridiculous stadium demands by Tampa Bay owner Stu Sternberg, now we can wade into the raw sewage that is Oakland’s stadium shenanigans. (Literal raw sewage, on occasion.)

John J. Fisher is rich because his parents owned The Gap (which was a successful company because Americans buying new clothes are often idiots). They handed him a real-estate company, he failed at it, and eventually ran his family’s investments along with actual business success guy Lewis Wolff.

It should be fairly mentioned that Oakland Coliseum is old, it is ratty, it does have feral cats who were introduced to deal with the rats and now are basically owners of that building. A 1996 expansion adding 10000 seats (primarily for former tenant and famed draw of chain-wielding fans the Oakland Raiders) cut off any scenic views from inside the stadium, and these seats are now permanently covered in tarp.

In short, one can feasibly argue that Oakland Coliseum (sorry, RingCentral Coliseum) needs to be replaced. Alas, Fisher is going about getting that replacement financed in the Dumbest. Way. Possible.

When not proposing sites that would eat into existing public college campus space, or require a new Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART, their light rail) station, or force pedestrians to cross multiple busy industrial train tracks on their way in/out of games, Fisher has set his sights on being gifted part of Oakland Terminal. Which is only among the busiest seaports in America, so not like it provides the kind of jobs and economic development a STADIUM would!

(Also, it’s entirely possible that the part of Oakland Terminal Fisher wants given to him will be underwater in the not-so-distant future, due to projected sea level rise.)

One of the holdups on this “plan” is that Fisher doesn’t just want a new stadium… oh, heck no! Where have you been? Nobody just wants stadiums, anymore! No, he wants a whole “mixed-use development with housing, offices,” parks and presumably liftoff-ready spaceports to Jupiter, all for the measly public investment of some $12 billion, funded via the usual assortment of tax-increment financing and other accounting tricks meant to disguise the fact that this is city money which has to come from city coffers (and would be managed entirely by the “Oakland Athletics Investment Group.”)

It’s the thing now, to have a huge, presumably lucrative development around the stadium. St. Louis has one, Atlanta has one, the Cubs, Texas… even the AA Wichita Wind Surge want their own.

Frustrated by his lack of being given 100% of the public money he wants, this offseason Winder's A’s went further than their usual payroll-cutting ways, engaging in a massive sell-off of any reasonably talented player they could trade (including currently-injured Sonny Gray to the Twins; he’s rehab starting for the Saints tomorrow). Then they raised ticket prices. And concessions prices. Parking. Everything.

Guess how well that’s fared with A’s fans?

Opening Day had 3748 fans. It’s gotten worse since.

No doubt, Fisher (who is buddies with Las Vegas newspaper magnate and ethically repugnant human Sheldon Adelson) hopes to follow the Raiders’ lead and get a ridiculously expensive free-stadium offer in Sin City (a relocation site MLB avoided for years, until Rob Manfred discovered that promoting online gambling means more money). Even if just as a threat to Oakland (which does have a much larger media market).

So, slash payroll, raise prices, tell the fans “you’ve forced me to do this”… brings back memories, no? Of Carl's refusing to tap his huge fortune, and Cal's utter contempt for fans.

Well, we’ll see what happens. (The A’s lease at the Coliseum lasts two more years.)

In the meantime, though, enjoy this, one of my favorite team songs played at ballparks which isn’t just a repurposed pop hit (like how the 1980s A’s used Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” a tradition that continues after home wins today). It’s by an Oakland band called The Phenomenauts, and while the lyrics aren’t much, it’s rockin’. The Nauts have a sound that’s like Social Distortion crossed with space nerd Dropkick Murphys, and their band members always have sci-fi-ish names (Lunar Captain Ripley Clipse, Agent Ion O’Clast, etc.) Have a listen:

Today's Lineups

Sheldon Neuse - 1B Byron Buxton - DH
Jed Lowrie - DH Jorge Polanco - 2B
Sean Murphy - C Gary Sanchez - C
Stephen Piscotty - RF Gio Urshela - 3B
Chad Pinder - LF Max Kepler - RF
Kevin Smith - 3B Jose Miranda - 1B
Elvis Andrus - SS Royce Lewis - SS
Cristian Pache - CF Trevor Larnach - LF
Tony Kemp - 2B Gilberto Celestino - CF
Zach Logue - LHP Josh Winder - RHP