Angels and A's almost lost their identity
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Baseball considered folding Angels two years ago
By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
March 11, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) -- The World Series championship flag would never have made it to Anaheim this year if baseball had gone through with a plan to fold the Angels.
Arizona, Florida, Kansas City, Minnesota, Montreal, Oakland, San Diego and Tampa Bay were all initially examined for consideration as possible contraction targets, according to a Dec. 11, 2000, memorandum by baseball lawyers Tom Ostertag and Ed Whang that was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
In addition, an undated list of ``Contraction Issues'' prepared by the commissioner's office added Anaheim, stating ``Angels want to `sell;' Athletics want to move.'' The issues list said Anaheim's situation was ``complicated by public ownership of the Angels,'' who are a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said Tuesday the Angels were put on the possible contraction list early in the process and were never seriously a target.
Former Angels president Tony Tavares said baseball examined two plans involving Anaheim, one which would have led to the dispersal of the Angels' roster after the 2001 season.
``There was a concept that Oakland would have gotten contracted and the ownership of Oakland would have taken over the ownership of the Angels and remained in Anaheim,'' Tavares said. ``There was another concept that the players on the Angels would have been disbanded, and the players on Oakland would have moved on to Anaheim.
``I would say it was not that serious. The principals never spoke,'' Tavares said, referring to the Oakland owners and his-then bosses at Disney.
The commissioner's office began examining reaction to contraction months before the November 2001 vote, according to a Feb. 28, 2001, memorandum by Mary Braza, a lawyer with Foley & Lardner, which often represents major league baseball.
Braza was asked to review newspaper articles about contraction and assemble a list of ``pros and cons'' for baseball officials.
The plan to eliminate the Expos and the Twins was stopped when the Twins' landlord obtained an injunction that forced the Twins to play their 2002 home games at the Metrodome.
Contraction was then put off, with baseball owners agreeing in their labor contract last August not to eliminate teams through at least the 2006 season.
``We looked internally at dozens and dozens of options,'' DuPuy said. ``This one was one of the options discussed based on the ownership situations at the time. It was never given serious consideration.''
In an effort to gauge reaction to contraction, the commissioner's office examined articles by newspaper reporters and rated the writers on a 1-to-10 scale for their support of contraction, according to another document obtained by the AP.
Anaheim, of course, survived and went on to win its first World Series last October, beating the San Francisco Giants in seven games. To get to the Series, the Angels upset the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, then beat the Twins.
``I knew we were one of the teams they were talking about,'' Angels shortstop David Eckstein said. ``I thought a lot about it that offseason. It just shows that you can't predict what would happen. We were one of the teams and the Twins were another and we both went out there and competed and played in the playoffs.
``I'm glad all that talk is over. Contraction means people lose jobs and you hate to see people lose jobs. Hopefully, baseball will keep growing and that will never be a discussion again.''
The following article is a copy and paste I got from another board and unfortunately the poster did not post the link:
'02 World Series Champs Were Almost the Team That Wasn't
New York Times
March 11, 2003
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
n 2001, before Major League Baseball announced and then backed away
from plans to eliminate two teams, one option was to buy out the
Anaheim Angels and replace or merge them with the Oakland A's,
according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
"That one was floated out there, but it was one of dozens and dozens
of scenarios," the president of Major League Baseball, Bob DuPuy,
said. "We were trying to be very, very thorough and looked at every
possible contraction, realignment and relocation scenario."
If the Anaheim-Oakland option had been adopted, the Angels would not
have been in existence to win the World Series last year.
There have been a few previous reports of the Oakland-Anaheim option,
but it has never been confirmed by documents or a baseball executive.
As contraction targets, Anaheim and Oakland never rose to the level
of serious candidates, like Minnesota and Montreal. Anaheim is not a
small market, but the Angels played in the Dodgers' shadow in
Southern California until their World Series victory. Oakland shared
the Bay Area market with the San Francisco Giants, but by 2001 had
become a strong team with a modest payroll.
But baseball's due diligence in trying to improve the sport's
economics included analyzing all possible options, a process that
started with looking at 18 teams as possible candidates for
contraction, DuPuy said.
A co-owner of the A's, Steve Schott, said his discussions with DuPuy
and the former president of baseball, Paul Beeston, were "very
"I wouldn't call it a plan," Schott said. "It was an idea, and it was
not detailed. We never got to escrow."
According to the documents, baseball officials divided contraction
candidates into two tiers. The first group, presumably the ones with
more serious economic problems were Montreal, Minnesota, Tampa Bay
and San Diego.
On the second level were Arizona, because of its heavy debt load;
Florida; Kansas City; and Oakland.
To guide their work, baseball's lawyers prepared a document that
detailed financial, media and stadium issues facing some contraction
target, with a specific eye toward when leases and television
For example, Oakland's lease at Network Associates Coliseum was then
to expire at the end of 2001, and it had the right to terminate its
cable-TV deal if it moved to another city.
For Tampa Bay, the document said that contracting the Devil Rays was
complicated by a dispute among limited partners; "lender issues,
including bankruptcy and liability to lenders" and "ticketholder or
similar class action."
In July 2001, a new document listed the Oakland-Anaheim option.
"Angels wants to `sell,' " the document said. "Athletics want to
move." The document said that the plan would be "complicated by
public ownership of Angels" by the Walt Disney Company
and "complicated by offers to buy Angels."
Schott said, "They talked to us about moving the A's to Anaheim, but
then you would have a team with two rosters, and they didn't describe
how they would consolidate the teams."
He was also told that John Henry, then the owner of the Florida
Marlins, would be his partner in a proposed Anaheim-Oakland
consolidation. Henry had also been rumored to be pursuing a purchase
of the Angels on his own.
"We talked a little and pursued it a little further," he said.
It never advanced. In early 2002, Henry sold the Marlins to Jeffrey
Loria for $158 million; Loria sold the Expos to Major League Baseball
for $120 million; and a group led by Henry acquired the Boston Red
Sox for $660 million.
Soon after, Baseball Commission Bud Selig delayed contraction until
2003, then deferred considering it until 2007 as part of the new
labor deal with the players' union.
Another document showed a sensitivity toward negative media coverage
of Selig's initial contraction announcement at a 2001 news
conference. An internal 10-point analysis criticized baseball for not
selling the contraction concept sufficiently to "national baseball
opinion leaders in advance of the announcement."
The report said that the failure to promote the concept had forced
the news media to rely "solely on the cogency of the commissioner's
oral presentation," and that lacking a "firm understanding of the
concept, the media veered to writing about his performance at the
It cited how reporters "indulged in the pathos of contracting the
Twins." It also criticized Jesse Ventura, then the governor of
Minnesota, "who, hungry for pithy comments, gulped his media-friendly
In reporting on Selig, the document said, the media "deride an
honest, thoughtful, baseball loyalist, no matter how competent, if he
seems vague, guarded or hesitant." Reporters wanted a "glib, sharp,
clear communicator" like "Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Jed
Bartlett," the latter referring to the fictional president in the NBC
television program "West Wing."
| By nickb on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 01:56 pm:|
I think all of this contraction talk has surfaced again for a reason. I think that it's still possible that in the next few years, MLB will consider eliminating a couple of teams. I hate to say it, but with the A's low revenue base and no new stadium in sight, it looks like they're not yet off the chopping block.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 02:14 pm:|
Yes but the reason the A's remain in limbo is due to Selig and Co preventing a change in ownership who would maximize and explore the potential of their presence in the 5th best MLB market in the US and ultimately build a ballpark with a true parnership btween corporate and the city as it should be.
The new stadium is not in sight because Schott refused to make any kind of commitment or show any intention to spend any money in a ballpark. There is no way Oakland or any other city in the Bay Area will build him a publicly funded ballpark.
Of course the present MLB system rewards an owner like Schott by allowing him to play the role of bottom feeder while making a profit...meanwhile his team remains in limbo and used as a bargaining chip for use as extortion in other states and cities.
| By jerryo1 on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 02:21 pm:|
"I think that it's still possible that in the next few years, MLB will consider eliminating a couple of teams."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the new CBA guarantee no contraction for four years?
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 02:25 pm:|
Btw nick, I think you're absolutely correct in stating that this near contraction/relocation, or
symbiosis, has surfaced for a reason.
Curiously enough, while watching CNN a couple of days ago, the news ticker that run at the bottom of the screen had a tidbit saying that DC had approved the use of $200K bonds to build a new MLB ballpark. I searched online for the news but found nothing.
We know that Selig holds the fate of the A's in his hands, especially with a condoning owner such as Schott. This is precisely why they hand pick who they allow own a team and join their cartel.
| By nickb on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 02:29 pm:|
So shoot me for a year or two - it just makes me real nervous continually hearing all this contraction talk and to have Schott admit that he was part of the discussions. He is in no way committed to the team or city - the only way I would see him sticking around for the long term is for him to get a subsidized park in the South Bay and that's not going to happen due to the territorial issue as well as the lack of funding to come from taxpayers or corporations. So it leaves him with a choice to sell out to the highest bidder. He tried to do this a couple of years ago but MLB shot it down. The only reason that I could think of for this is that MLB doesn't want the A's in Oakland/Bay Area. I genuinely believe that it's only a matter of time before the A's are relocated or contracted. Even during the baseball season, when I should be enjoying a winning team, this is always in the back of my mind and it suuuuuucks!!!
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 03:28 pm:|
He tried to do this a couple of years ago but MLB shot it down.
It really didn't happen quite this way nick... By Schott's own admission (much to some of his lawyers fits and choking attacks I am sure), he never intended to sell the team back in 97 when Selig tabled the deal...he only intended to get out of the 10 year lease he had signed when he bought the team for a bargain basement price...Schott had MLB's nod for that plot against the city of Oakland who at the time dished out 11 million to settle the lawsuit and keep the option to sell to local bidders for the team. Schott knew the team was not going to be sold for 120 million which would have almost given him 50 million profit for a 2 year investment. He knew he could make a lot more money if he kept the team with an year to year rent free lease and control of all concessions. He know could double his investment and then some when he sells the team.
Enjoy the season Nick...I assure you that if Selig and Schott try to nix the A's, there will be plenty of people who now invest in MLB who will be willing to start a class action suit and invest every penny they now give to MLB to fighting them with the same passion they now devote to baseball...I'm one of those and I know I am not alone. This is why we keep our ears and eyes open, good records and accounts of what goes on with our team.
| By nickb on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 03:54 pm:|
I don't think you can dismiss this all that easily. Where there's smoke, there's fire. With this ownership group, I don't trust anything. I think they'd sell out there mother if they could make a buck and think that they'll cash in as soon as they can, whether it be to a local buyer or not.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 04:36 pm:|
Oh, I agree that we can't dismiss anything and I think we have to really keep very close tabs on what they're doing. I may have given the impression that I'm not worried, but I do worry and I think we should stay very alert to anything they do.
| By eyleenn on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 10:21 pm:|
There's a lot of talk about contraction in the NHL. If hockey teams fold, I think it will be more palatable for MLB to fold teams as well.
| By markusm on Thursday, March 13, 2003 - 02:01 pm:|
I see there's been alot of talk about contraction since I last visited. Seems to be an issue that is on every A's fan's mind, huh? And for a good reason.
| By oaktownfan on Saturday, March 15, 2003 - 01:47 am:|
I don't know but how can mlb be even think of contracting the A's organization. The franchise has the second most world series titled tied with the Cards and second only to the Yanks. Does that kind of history mean anything to the baseball powers or does the all might green dollar mean more. I don't think the A's will get contracted because it doesn't make sense. Even with a cheap owner and no new park, the A's will continue to spend their money wisely than three fourths of the teams in baseball and still have more on the field success.
Regarding relocation, where. No city right now has any chance of a. getting a new park built in this economy and b.the fan support.
San Jose: no park and the fued over territorial rights.
Las Vegas: no because of the gambling.
Portland and the Carolinas don't seem that hungrey for a pro baseball team.
D.C. seems to be a lock for the Expos.
That leaves in either Mexico or Puerto Rico, or some other latin country. I don't see that happening anytime soon since Canada is more stable than those countries and can barely to support either team. I know latin countries are known for their love for baseball but I don't think they can handle a mlb team.
The city of Oakland has proven they can support a team if they can get an owner who cares to spend and not talk negatively about the city they're playing in. I'm not worrying because I know if this idiot commish and Schott try to scheme the A's out of Oakland, they're going to get a major legal battle from the city and the former mentioned don't have much creditbility anymore.
Portland seems EXTREMELY hungry for a team, and is ready to spend tax money to build a stadium. They're likely to get the Expos unless Northern Va ponies up. The question is can/will that market support a team. I think they'd be the smallest.
| By oaktownfan on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 01:31 am:|
Portland does have Paul Allen there as he owns the Blazers but still, I don't think the A's will go there. The Bay Area can support two teams no matter what others say. I believe somehow, someway that somebody will buy the A's from Schott and Hoffman and build a park somewhere in downtown Oakland. If that's in the uptown area or near the waterfront, it will happen; I just don't know when. Selig's b.s. will get exposed for what it is when he tabled the Dolich group and the way he's treated the A's and called them an "anamoly"(sp?). People may call what I believe wishful thinking, but my philosphy with the A's is you gotta believe that all bad things that have happened to you will turn around eventually and you'll get rewarded soon afterwards. It's happened before. Haas saved this franchise from the hands of Finley era. There has to be another Haas family out there to save this team from this ownership group.
There has to be another Haas family out there to save this team from this ownership group.
The problem is that MLB has sold out to big media conglomerates and other groups who use baseball as a means to make more money.
See Murdoch and the Dodgers. These groups use MLB so to make money with their ancillary and real money making businesses. See the Yankees and the YES Cable Co. owned by Steinbrenner and his share holders.
So the disparity in MLB comes from the disparity in ownerships. There is no more room for mom and pop and family owned franchises, unless they are willing to accept to play the bottom feeder role such as Mr. Schott is willing to do for a good little personal profit and gain.
The ownership that could save the A's would have to be one with deep pockets and willing to spend big to make it big...The potential for success in Oakland is there for the taking.