Dave Newhouse on Schott's attempt to save face
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Friday, August 16, 2002 - 3:22:22 AM MST
Schott tries to put on new face
OAKLAND -- Steve Schott, buddy-buddy. The jolly neighbor across the fence. The slap-you-on-the-back, have-a-brew-with, crack-a-joke, down-to-earth regular sort of guy. That's the image the Oakland A's are trying to create for Schott, their owner/managing general partner. They feel he is greatly misunderstood.
Thus, a public-relations facelifting of Schott has been taking place underneath the public's radar screen. And Schott's assigned character cosmetologist is someone with a lot of horse sense.
He is Sam Spear, who knows all about horses as a longtime figure at Bay Area tracks. Spear works in a public-relations capacity, hosts an evening television show that recaps the day's races locally and has a weekend horse-racing show on KNBR.
And he also has gotten himself hired as Schott's personality trainer.
Schott has taken a horse-whipping from the media and Oakland residents for his shaky commitment to Oakland. He bought the A's with Ken Hofmann in 1995. They looked at other Bay Area sites from the beginning, wanted to move to Santa Clara but couldn't get out of the barn, then finally signed a new stadium lease in Oakland when there were no other cities as claimers.
Schott has been a p.r. disaster. Enter Spear, who has scheduled a series of luncheons involving Schott and the media, including Thursday's at Francesco's. Spear's plan was to show Schott as a thoroughbred, a winner, and not the horse's derriere that many A's fans perceive in their minds.
Schott does have a sense of humor, it turned out, and he had the media laughing Thursday. He wanted the mood light, even though there were many topical matters to discuss.
Such as where would he prefer a new ballpark? How much would he pony up? Is his team for sale? And are the A's in the horse race financially to hold on to Miguel Tejada?
Schott answered questions before and after lunch, which was on the A's. He was brutally honest at times. He re-affirmed that he didn't think a ballpark was feasible in Oakland without a change in its leadership. He referred specifically to Jerry Brown, indicating that Brown might not even complete his second term as mayor.
Oakland City Council president Ignacio De La Fuente had suggested that Schott and Hofmann, both home builders, should build the ballpark themselves. Schott said building a house and a stadium are "not even in the same league." He said it's like comparing Class A ball to the majors.
Schott reiterated the A's would put in "X dollars" toward a ballpark, but once again he wasn't specific about X. But he "absolutely" would give a dollar amount if he knew that Oakland was run by sports-minded politicians.
He repeated that the A's aren't for sale. But, confusingly, he said he is talking to prospective owners. He added that partner/owner Hofmann, who will be 80 next year, is planning to sell his share of the team.
"From an economics standpoint," Schott continued, "the A's would be better off in the South Bay."
That won't win him new fans in Oakland. Schott also said setting a strike deadline is the best way to avoid a work stoppage. That bold comment could get him in big trouble with Bud Selig.
As for Tejada, Schott said the shortstop likely would have to take less money to stay in Oakland. A's president Mike Crowley chimed in that the A's can't begin to resolve Tejada's situation until a collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Schott addressed media members by their first names, even those he had other names for. He was working extremely hard to present a likable image. However, the longer the questions continued, the harder it was for him. He cut off one question, grew more succinct on others, then made a terrible gaffe by saying he couldn't possibly build a "Pacific Bell Park model in Oakland ... you can't compare Oakland to San Francisco."
That's true, but in a ballpark sense, you can. Oakland has a bigger, better layout, minus the waterfront, for a ballpark than does San Francisco, plus it has more parking and greater highway access.
Schott's patience, not to mention his fuse, grew shorter as time went on. He became more uncomfortable. It was evident that he isn't smooth in a large social situation, and that he was waiting for this ordeal to end.
Spear sensed what was happening. He stood up and thanked everyone for coming. Then Spear and Schott walked out of the restaurant together, talking among themselves, comparing notes like two touts after a stakes race.
The outcome? Call it a dead heat, the best finish Schott could have hoped for after fading badly down the stretch.
Dave Newhouse can be reached at (510) 208-6466 or by e-mail at
And Schott's assigned character cosmetologist is someone with a lot of horse sense.
One has to have a lot of horse sense to fling the horse sh*t.
| By eyleenn on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 11:25 pm:|
Newhouse tells it like it is. Schott should just keep his mouth shut.