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Chris Biderman: The A's next fire sale should include owner John Fisher

Chris Biderman, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Baseball

It’s reassuring to know fans of the Oakland Athletics, who are showing up to games in laughably low numbers this season, aren’t the only ones disenchanted with the team’s ownership.

The New York Post reported this week owners of rival teams in Major League Baseball aren’t happy the A’s are back to collecting revenue-sharing checks after having another fire sale in the offseason where the team got rid of notable players to cut costs.

“The idea of revenue sharing is not to make money, it’s to field a competitive team,” an owner told the Post outside of league meetings in New York. “That money is supposed to go toward player salaries. (The A’s) took the money and put it in their pocket.”

The A’s were re-awarded revenue sharing over the offseason when the players association and Major League Baseball agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement. The team made some $34 million in revenue sharing back in 2016 before it was gradually phased out by 2020, spreading money from the high-revenue teams to the low.

The new revenue-sharing plan is contingent on the A’s finalizing a long-awaited new stadium. The team is expected to get $9 million in revenue sharing this year and $20 million in 2023. Their $35 million payroll is the lowest in the majors, ahead of only the Orioles, way down from the $86 million they spent on players in 2016 at the height of the old revenue sharing model.

Nothing A’s owner John Fisher is doing these days seems to be working for anyone. Except, well, John Fisher. And that’s been the team’s biggest problem — even more so than the club’s never-ending bid for a ballpark.

 

As difficult as it is to build anything in the Bay Area, the 49ers, Giants and Warriors have all constructed modern venues there in the last quarter century.

Even the Raiders have gotten a new stadium, albeit in Las Vegas that relied heavily on taxes from hotels. Raiders owner Mark Davis is far from one of the richest owners in the NFL, but he was able to get a stadium deal done. Fisher, who is reportedly worth $2.2 billion, is the only major sports owner in the area who hasn’t been able to build. Indeed, the A’s have a Fisher problem and would be better off putting someone else in charge of building a new stadium if the last 17 years of his time owning the team is any indication.

Fisher’s been trying to get a new stadium since buying the team for $180 million in 2005, and there are still nights where there are more seagulls flying around the downtrodden RingCentral Coliseum than fans in the seats. The A’s are averaging 8,562 fans per game, nearly 2,500 fewer than the Miami Marlins, who are attract the second-fewest fans at 11,127 a night.

To the anonymous owner’s point, Fisher ordered his overachieving front office to deal away star first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman, as well as starting pitchers Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt. Those moves go against the point of revenue sharing altogether.

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