That's Amaury News & Commentary & Weekly Podcasts: In Affiliation with Sports Radio Service
A Friend and my Favorite Baseball Official Scorer
August 28, 2023
Baltimore Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson is unable to stop an RBI double by Colorado Rockies’ Elias Diaz that scored Charlie Blackmon from first base during the third inning at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Fri Aug 25, 2023 (AP News photo)
With approximately 30 to 35 games left for most teams this season, here are the three teams with the biggest payrolls this year and their records today.1-New York Mets 60-71 in the cellar, 2-New York Yankees, 62-69 in the cellar, 3-San Diego Padres, 61-70 in penultimate place. The chances of any of these teams for the postseason is at best slim and none for real, as they would have to play at an .800 winning percentage clip the rest of the way. Can we say that money is not the key for a winning team?Yes and No, because at the end is a combination, a balancing-act for front offices to draft, trade and buy players at the same time. A team most draft and develop well, make trades to improve their roster and in some cases open the bank and pay the huge salaries. But money alone is not the solution in the most difficult sport.The Baltimore Orioles are leading the American League East, with the #29 payroll, only the Oakland A’s have a smaller payroll, the A’s do not really count because their owner has “De-funded the Team” . But, how have the Orioles done it?They have the best minor league system today. As a matter of fact, this 2023 season the Orioles have the best minor league system for the fourth consecutive year. The best example is Gunnar Henderson, which was one of the eight total guys in the Top 100 prospects, Henderson is a regular in the young and exciting Baltimore Orioles lineup this season.They have players waiting in the minors, like the highly rated Jackson Holliday, the son of ex major league All Star Matt Holliday. Jackson Holliday is the #1 prospect in Major League Baseball, currently playing shortstop and second base at AA level affiliate, Bowie Baysox in Maryland.The Birds from Baltimore success was not instant. Here are the last three years record:2021: 52-100, 2022: 83-79, today the Orioles have a 81-49 record. which is the second best record among all 30 MLB teams, only the Atlanta Braves with 84-45 leading the NL East by miles have a better record in baseball.The Yankees, Mets and Padres will have a very interesting off-season, the Padres might just tweak their roster, my hope is they keep their manager Bob Melvin, but the two New York teams, only God knows what their management is going to do.Mets owner Steve Cohen is the richest owner in baseball, but he could not buy the title this year, he is insatiable for high prize talent, and will make a run at Shohei Ohtani. The Yankees? Well there is always next season for their 28 World Series title.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play announcer on the Oakland A’s Spanish radio network 1010 KIQI San Francisco and 990 KATD Pittsburg and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com
A Friend and my Favorite Baseball Official Scorer
August 26, 2023
This photo was taken by The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame (2012 Pioneer Award) which former MLB official scorer Arturo Santo Domingo was a winner of that year
Our deepest condolences to the Santo Domingo family for the passing of Mr. Arturo Santo Domingo. All of us who knew Arturo share great lifetime memories that enriched our lives. He was the ultimate professional, a friend in the Press Box in San Francisco and Oakland.Arturo shared his knowledge, love, and passion for the game of baseball like few people I have ever met in this business. We met in the 1970’s at the Candlestick Park Press Box during a San Francisco Giants game.I remember when he introduced me to Mr. Chub Feeney who was the Vice President of the Giants and often was in the press box standing in a corner smoking a cigar watching the game (it was allowed back then to smoke in the Press Box) Feeney was a real character.Arturo was the first Latin American-born Traveling Secretary in Major League Baseball with the San Francisco Giants in the early 1960’s Born in Colombia but educated in the United States, a graduate in Business at Duke University, this humble reporter and Arturo mostly spoke in Spanish.He would often join me on the air during a Spanish-language baseball broadcast of the A’s or Giants here in the Bay Area, which he really enjoyed and was excellent in his commentary. His knowledge of the game made him my favorite Official Scorer in baseball.But his stories when we spoke about some of the greatest players he had the privilege of knowing and traveling with, like the great Willie Mays, were priceless. When Arturo spoke in any Press Box people listened.Through the years I realized how much he loved Cuban food, which we shared in various restaurants with him and some of his friends who are also missing him today. In 2012 Arturo Santo Domingo who was co-founder and benefactor of the 46th Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara,(which I had the pleasure of covering for Telemundo) announced that he would not be part of the tournament in the future.That same year on August 12, 2012, The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame http://www.hhbmhof.com Awarded him with the Pioneer Award. Official Scorekeepers do not come better than Arturo.Descansa en Paz Arturo.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play announcer on the Oakland A’s Spanish radio network 1010 KIQI San Francisco and 990 KATD Pittsburg and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com
August 15, 2023
KNTA radio days a look back on A’s Spanish radio; Memories of Oakland (No. 10 in series)
August 9, 2023
Author Amaury Pi Gonzalez (left) and broadcast partner Evelio Mendoza (right) as Oakland A’s Spanish broadcast partners during the 1989 World Series part of the Memories of Oakland number 10 in a series (photo provided by Amaury Pi Gonzalez)
During the mid to late 1980’s the Oakland Athletics Spanish radio broadcast took place on the airwaves of KNTA 1430AM Radio, Santa Clara whose format was all in Spanish. Today KNTA 1430 is KVVN 1430AM, and is the only Vietnamese radio station in America owned and operated by a Vietnamese-American. So goes, the ever changing scenery of radio in one of the most diverse areas in the US.Mr. Gene Hogan was the General Manager of KNTA Radio Spanish, a station represented by Lotus Communications. Hogan was a seasoned General Manager for one station and handled all the business as well as programming for his station. He was always accessible. Gene Hogan was not fluent in Spanish but he understood more than he let everybody knows and he was a hands on manager, Gene knew radio inside and out.With a great sense of humor, Hogan could sell ice to an Eskimo. Like most General Managers at that time, he came from a sales background. It was there at KNTA in Santa Clara that I met Erwin Higueros, who was a disc jockey at the station during the Graveyard shift (midnight to sunrise) live on radio those days.Mr. Hogan told me he had this young man working for him and he (Erwin) was interested in baseball. Erwin came along and joined our broadcasts, first as engineer and later on the air would join Evelio and yours truly for an inning or so.Evelio Areas Mendoza was my broadcast partner at KNTA 1430 radio, the home of the Oakland Athletics in Spanish at the time, doing most home games and selected road games. The road games we would broadcast from their main studio in Santa Clara by watching a television monitor.Not to miss a play, I usually had a transistor radio listening with my earphones and when Evelio was doing the play by play I would listen to Bill King, so we could not miss anything that was happening when the team was playing abroad.We had the authorization from the Athletics and the broadcast went very well. During that time we broadcasted home games at Oakland right behind the plate (in front of the backstop, at field level) under a canopy with the KNTA 1430 AM identification letters written on the side.I enjoyed broadcasting games at that unique location, however, later the A’s told us they would have to remove us from there, because, “some scouts for other teams thought we were stealing signs in favor of the A’s”. Which it was totally ludicrous and I would happily testify in front of a judge if it came to that. It never did. We went back to the press box level inside a regular broadcast booth.In my many talks with Gene Hogan, like I said before, he ran every facet at the station, I always would speak about sports, he was not really a sports fan, but he understood radio and the importance of major league baseball broadcast for a local station, he would mention the prestige and possible magnet for other advertisers when a station can secure a contract to broadcast professional baseball.One occasion I told him about the importance of covering Spring Training, and after we went back-and-forth in a meeting he understood that would be good for the station. It was the 1980’s and radio still played a big part in our culture, especially local radio stations.A few days later he called me into his office and told me he had approved a trip for us to go to Spring Training. So, Erwin and I rented a car and drove to the Phoenix area to cover A’s Spring Training. KNTA 1430 AM is where the 1989 “Earthquake Series” won by the A’s, was broadcast in Spanish for the Bay Area as well as the previous World Series against the LA Dodgers in 1988.KNTA Radio 1430 was popular radio, famous for doing lots of remotes from different community events in the San José area, decades before San José became the home for Silicon Valley, home to many start-up and global technology companies. Apple, META and Google among the most prominent. Today a lot of this history is at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San José.KNTA Radio Days in Spanish was a legendary time when San José was still into a “growing spurt”, and Gene Hogan, RIP, was one of great characters I had the pleasure of meeting in the broadcast business.Famous Radio quotes: “It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on” – Marilyn Monroe
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play announcer on the Oakland A’s Spanish radio network 1010 KIQI San Francisco and 990 KATD Pittsburg and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com
August 5, 2023
To Call the A’s a “small market team” is a travesty
August 3, 2023
From left, lobbyists Alfredo Alonso and John Griffin, Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher, President Dave Kaval and lobbyist Jessica Ferrato inside the Legislature in Carson City on May 31, 2023. (Nevada Independent file photo)
OAKLAND–For years now I have heard executives and even baseball so called “experts” call the Oakland Athletics a “small market team”. According to the Official US Census in 2020, the Bay Area has a population of over 7 million people in nine counties and 101 cities.If that is a small market, then I must have been born yesterday on planet Mongo. Major League Baseball generate great part of their overall revenues via Television, that’s where the money is, forget radio. For the past several years, Nielsen has ranked the Bay Area market, the sixth largest TV market in the country. Actually throughout the 1980s and 1990s it had been the fifth largest.Not everybody that attends A’s games live in Oakland, just like Giants fans are not only those that live in San Francisco. There is a reason we are the “Bay Area”. Leaving Oakland for Las Vegas is indeed leaving a 7 million people market to a market with a population of 640,000.The Las Vegas media market is #40 in the US; the Oakland-Bay Area is #6. These are the facts. Yes, Las Vegas (according to the Las Vegas Statistics Bureau) is one of the most popular places to travel not only in the US, but in the world. And according to their statistics, the city has approximately 32 million visitors every year.The Oakland Raiders have been successful as well as the last and current Stanley Cup Champions Las Vegas Golden Knights. In the NFL you play a 17 game season with about half played at home, in the NHL is an 82 game season with 41 games at home.In MLB is a 162 game season with 81 home games. To sell most games during an 81 game season at home inside a 30,000 seat stadium, you have to sell out most of the time, to make it around 2 million in attendance.The ‘powers to be’ in Las Vegas are counting with tourism to buy tickets for baseball, but that is a stretch. Good luck with that. However, I can see Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and other fans of big teams that travel well to see their teams for a three day weekend in Las Vegas, where most people go to watch shows and participate in gambling.It is also a favorite spot for honeymooners. You can still get married at the Elvis Chapel and if it doesn’t that work, drive north to Reno and get a divorce. Finally, and of course, I wanted the Oakland A’s to stay in Oakland where they had won four World Series and were their roots really are.But if they leave, as it looks today, even with all the thousands of people and reverse boycotts at different parks, including the two games coming this weekend at Oakland against the Giants, that is all nice and entertaining, but in the end I do not think Mr. Fisher is shaking and sweating when and if he seen those demonstrations, because he still owns the team and at the end, with all respect to the people demonstrating, in this country, under our free enterprise system, you cannot force a private citizen to sell if he/she doesn’t want to sell. It is as simple as that.I have heard all scenarios by now on this debacle, and all I can go by is what is happening, we all live day to day. Some people are speaking like 2028 is just “around the corner”. 2028 is the projected year for when the Oakland A’s become the Las Vegas A’s.Construction companies, baseball owners, lawmakers in City Halls in different cities and others maybe in the Stock Market as investors usually can plan for five years ahead, but most people I know they cannot tell you where they are going to be five years from today. Can you?
Memories of Oakland (No 9 in Series) Glory Years –1988,1989,1990 World Series
August 2, 2023
Former Oakland A’s outfielder Jose Canseco seen throwing out the first ball in previous years ago game at the Oakland Coliseum was one of the key stars of the A’s World Series teams in the 80s (AP News photo)
The Oakland Athletics won three consecutive American League pennants from 1988 to 1990 and made it to the World Series annually.These three years were the pinnacle of success for the Oakland A’s during the Walter Haas ownership and Tony LaRussa as field manager, the best time since the Charlie O Finley Athletics won three consecutive World Series in 1972-73 and 1974.The A’s did not win three World Series in a row this time, but these were some of the greatest baseball teams the A’s ever put on the field. The teams had power, speed, pitching, and everything, including very exciting players, but as we know, the World Series is genuinely unpredictable.
- 1988 I considered the best of these three consecutive World Series teams. They won 104 games and finished 13 games over the Minnesota Twins in their division and then beat the Boston Red Sox in four games to win the American League Championship Series.
- The World Series matched the A’s vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, only the second time that two California teams met in the October Classic. Previously was also the Oakland A’s in 1974 when they beat the Dodgers. This time the Dodgers took the Oakland A’s in five games, and pitching star Orel Hershiser won the series MVP. José Canseco won the MVP of the American League and the Silver Slugger Award. Dennis Eckersley won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, and in 1988 Tony LaRussa won the Manager of the Year. The first game of the World Series at Dodger Stadium culminated with a home run by pinch hitter Kirk Gibson (he could not take batting practice due to his physical condition), yet he surprised the world with that dramatic ninth-inning home run vs. Eckersley that landed in the right field seats. Eck threw “one slider too many.” Although it was just Game One, it had the feeling that this was a precursor of what was going to happen. Famous artist Leroy Neiman was present doing his paintings. The great Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, who sang the National Anthem at the inaugural game at Dodger Stadium, came into our booth prior to game three at the Oakland Coliseum. He was very much curious about baseball and specially asked questions about José Canseco, who that season became the first 40-40 player in history.
- 1989 Was not only Oakland A’s fourth World Championship title but the most historical as a powerful earthquake stopped it. As Evelio A.Mendoza and yours truly were doing the pre-game show Game 3, less than a half-hour before the game was to start, the quake hit, shaking Candlestick Park. I will never forget that October 17. The Loma Prieta earthquake was a strong 6.9 in magnitude. The series resumes ten days after the quake, which killed 67, injured more than 3,700, and caused billions of dollars in property damage. The Oakland A’s won games 1 and 2 at Oakland by scores of 5-0 and 5-1, then ten days after the earthquake, the series resumed in San Francisco, where they won game 3 by a 13-7 score and game four by a 9-6 score. Dave Stewart, who won games 1 and 3 was named the MVP. Nobody in Oakland history did what Stew accomplished from 1987 to 1990; he won 20 to 22 games in each season consecutively. The four World Series trophies for the Oakland A’s are the best for a Bay Area team. The 1989 World Series is historically unique and shows the leadership of the interim Commissioner Fay Vincent, who, after the earthquake, made the decision as he was sitting at his box at Candlestick Park and ordered the game to be postponed. According to Vincent, he had already made the decision to postpone Game 3 without telling anybody first. As a result, the umpires filed a formal protest of Vincent’s decision. However, the game had to be postponed due to trouble with gas lines and the power issue. Vincent made the right decision, and in the end, the World Series was played in its totality. Dave Stewart was more than the MVP for this World Series. Stewart was active working and helping first responders in the Cypress Freeway area of Oakland, which had collapsed during the quake, an area that caused many of the fatalities.
- 1990 The A’s played the Cincinnati Reds. The first two games were scheduled to be played at Cincinnati. There was a large contingency of Oakland A’s employees, their families, that followed the team east. The Mayor of Oakland Lionel Wilson and his wife were present among other Oakland leaders. All the rooms in Cincinnati hotels were sold out. My wife and I stayed in Kentucky along with the other staff people, including broadcasters. The bus ride was about hour from the stadium. Later when I was traveling with other teams, I discovered a friendly bridge that I would walk a few times across the Ohio River from Riverfront Stadium to Covington, Kentucky. Everything went the Red’s way as they won the two games in Cincinnati and the last two in Oakland; A’s were swept. As if often happens in baseball, a player that was young and ineffective during his career with the Oakland A’s from 1985 to 1987, Dominican pitcher José Rijo who was traded from Oakland three years before, was 3-0 in the postseason and 2-0 in the World Series came back to haunt his ex-team and won the MVP.Years later (when he was not managing the A’s), I spoke with Tony LaRussa, who used to have a pregame segment before each of our A’s games in Spanish, and told him I believe the A’s should have won the three World Series, he agreed with me. But such is baseball.1990 was the last time the A’s were in a World Series. Thirty-three years ago and counting,Famous Quotes: “May God give you, for every storm, a rainbow; for every tear, a smile; for every care, a promise; and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life seems, a faithful friend to share; for every sigh, a sweet song, and an answer for each prayer”. -Vin Scully.
Shohei Ohtani – We might Never see another One like Him
July 29, 2023
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Fri Jul 28, 2023 (AP News photo)
There is no bigger attraction in baseball. He sells more tickets than any other player today. Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is one of the best hitters and one of the best pitchers, all rolled into one single human being.Baseball is the most difficult game to master, and to have a player like Ohtani playing every day and doing what he is doing; I am not sure we will see that again. Of course, the last one to do such a thing was George Herman (Babe) Ruth, and he last played in 1923, which is 100 years ago.LA Angels owner Arturo (Arte) Moreno stopped all rumors recently when he said he will not trade Ohtani before the August 1 trade deadline. Which basically means he wants the Angels to make it to the playoffs with Ohtani.The Los Angeles Angels last made the playoffs in 2014 and Ohtani was yet to made his anticipated debut in the major leagues. That was the year (2014) when Angels superstar Mike Trout won the first of his three MVP awards.Trout has been out with a fracture of the hammate bone in his left hand. The plan for Moreno is to have Trout back hopefully by mid-August and go into the final stretch of the season with two of the best players in the world in the same lineup, Ohtani and Trout. That is the main reason he did not want to trade Ohtani.Shohei Ohtani will become a free agent after the season and then a handful of teams with the resources will offer him the largest ever multi year deal in baseball history. Years ago Moreno shelled close to $500 million for Mike Trout, but if he wants to retain Ohtani it will cost him more, something in the neighborhood of between $600 million to $700 million.At the time of this article Ohtani has 39 home runs, which is #1 in the majors, 81 runs batted in, among the leaders and is also among the leaders in most pitching categories. There is nothing “normal;” about this. He is the favorite thing to win his second consecutive American League MVP. The Japanese star is an inspiration to all in the world of sports.“Nothing is really going to change personally just for having one good year, I feel like the key is to continue having success for a lot of years to come…” -Shohei Ohtani.
July 25, 2023
Memories of Oakland (No.8 in Series) Charlie O and MC Hammer
July 19, 2023
Former Oakland A’s owner Charlie O Finley rides A’s mascot Charlie O the Mule a popular mascot with fans and kids of the A’s (Fountain City Frequency photo)
OAKLAND–During the 1970s, two special Oakland A’s stories developed under owner Charlie O Finley.1-The famous team mascot Charlie O, is named after the stubborn owner. When the team moved to Oakland, Mr.Finley brought the mule from Kansas City; it was originally a gift he received in 1963. The mule was the state animal, and it was a gift from the Governor of the state of Missouri.All kinds of animals were behind the old Kansas City Municipal Stadium outfield fence. At that time, the A’s shared the stadium with the NFL KC Chiefs, who also had an animal mascot, a horse called Warpaint, who would go on the field after every time the Chiefs scored.Charlie O the Mule died in 1976 at the age of 20. Mr.Finley would travel the mule during the World Series years, especially to teams’ hotels on the road, getting a lot of publicity from the media. During the 1972-74 three A’s World Series dynasty years, Charlie O. would be present for parties after the World Series games at the former Hyatt House on Hegenberger Road, Oakland.In 1976 The year the mule died, the A’s ended in second place in the West with a 87-74 record, two and a half games out of first place. Charlie O the Mule was so popular that a song was written and recorded about the mule. (Scroll down to listen to recording from You Tube)2-MC Hammer, the famous rapper (his real name Stanley Kirk Burrell) was a young kid that owner Finley discovered playing music on his boom box at the Coliseum parking lot and as he met him, the colorful owner made him a bat-boy and later, his right hand.As a young kid, I remember he would be in the Oakland A’s Press Box at the Coliseum bringing broadcasters coffee or anything we needed. My then broadcast partner Julio González, (no relation), we would get a kick out of Stanley, which is what we called him as a kid.He would also pick up the phone with frequency during games at Oakland to let owner Finley in Chicago know how the A’s were doing during the game. Stanley would do the play-by-play of the game directly and exclusively on the telephone to Mr.Finley.He did this for years as a young teen and then until he was 18. Years ago, when Stanley was mostly known as M.C. Hammer, and had recorded his big hit “You Can’t Touch This”, he made an appearance at the Coliseum. I remember he stepping out of a long white limousine; I called his name, and we spoke for a couple of minutes; he asked me if I was still doing Spanish for the A’s.He was a full-grown man, very well sharply dressed and very personable, and still enjoying recognition from his fame as a pop music recording star. He had a great music career, unfortunately later filed for bankruptcy. He rebounded and now is an investor and consultant for various companies.These memories of the Oakland As will forever be engraved in my memory. Nobody can take that away from me, even if they move to Las Vegas or anyplace else. There is little doubt these two stories, 1-Charlie O and 2-MC Hammer, are part of the story of the Athletics. The Athletics were Chartered members of the American League in the year 1901 as the Philadelphia As, later Kansas City As, and today the Oakland As.Quote: “If a manager of mine ever said someone was indispensable, I’d fire him. Charlie Finley.
July 17, 2023
To Trade of Not to Trade Ohtani? That is the Question
July 17, 2023
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is the subject of trade rumors as the MLB trade deadline is approaching (AP photo file)
This is the toughest and most consequential decision LA Angels owner Arturo Moreno will have to make as the owner of his team, since he bought the club in 2003. His team was playing over .500 until Mike Trout got hurt and now Arturo will have to consider what are his chances to make it to the postseason, with a healthy Ohtani and hopeful that Trout who is rehabbing, quickly returns in time for the team to drive in runs and joins Ohtani.Let’s say what do you get if you trade the most famous and productive player in the game today? It will never be enough. If you are a real baseball fan you are lucky and privileged to be living during a time when we are witnessing a one-of-a-kind-in-a-century-athlete.What Shohei Ohtani is doing is like two great players all wrapped-up into one. Ohtani is one of the best hitters and one of the best pitchers in major league baseball through the first half of the 2023 season. Although is premature to say, with some 70 plus games remaining this season, last year’s MVP could be this year’s MVP again.With 34 home runs the Angels Japanese two-way superstar is leading both leagues in raw power, (on a pace to beat the record established last season in the American League for 62 home runs by Yankee slugger Aaron Judge) Ohtani is third in runs batted in with 72, and also among the best pitchers with the best stuff and number four in strikeouts with 132.There is no need to compare Ohtani with Babe Ruth, who last played in 1923, that is one hundred years ago. It is fair to say that Ohtani is putting up Babe Ruth numbers, and some even say he is a better player than Ruth. I cannot say that because I never saw Babe Ruth play, and who is alive today to say?It is impossible to compare one player to the other. We also have to take into consideration that when Babe Ruth played advances in science and nutrition and players training and conditioning were not even remotely close to what they are today Baseball is one of the toughest if not “the toughest” to play among other team sports. In 1982 Ted Williams told the New York Times, “I’ve always said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.The hardest thing – a round ball, round bat, curves, sliders, knuckle-balls, upside down and a ball coming in at 90 miles to 100 miles an hour, it’s a pretty lethal thing. What Ted Williams said is just about hitting (as a pure hitter he was the best ever), now add to that pitching.This is what the scouts say about Ohtani’s pitching; Ohtani is a true five-pitch pitcher, throwing all with accuracy and velocity. A high-fastball that can reach 97, an 83 mph slider and 81 mph change-up, also an effective curve ball he uses to set up his other pitches in batter’s counts.The question about Ohtani is how long he can keep doing what he is doing. Ohtani’s teammate and best friend with the Angels, Mike Trout recently fractured his left hamate, in other words, he broke his wrist, he will be out at least four weeks and if by then the Angels are not in contention, I believe they will not trade Ohtani, but will end the season with him.Then, Ohtani will become a free agent and the favorite LA Dodgers will make an effort to sign him to the largest baseball contract in history. The irony here is that Mike Trout signed a 12-year $426.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 which included a $20 million signing bonus.At the time the richest deal in the history of North American sports. Ohtani as a free agent will sign a larger contract that his good friend Mike Trout. Odds-masters and people ‘in the know’ have made the Los Angeles Dodgers the heavy favorites to land Ohtani, they have the financial resources for that mega contract, plus Ohtani, likes Dodger Stadium and Southern California.For Ohtani we are talking over $600 million multi-year deal. Also, do not count out the Padres, Mets and Yankees to get Othani as a free agent after the season. Finally: I do not think Arturo Moreno will trade the great Japanese star.He will keep him and see if you can make the postseason, if you do not, and he is a free agent, he is gone. That is my opinion; if you disagree I still respect your opinion. Remember this is only baseball we are not deciding a war here. Wherever he plays, enjoy Ohtani, because we might never see another one like him again for another 100 years.
José Canseco to participate in the Battle for Vegas
July 12, 2023
Jose Canseco trying a juice at a Las Vegas promotion will be participating in the Battle for Vegas. Canseco a Las Vegas resident will be involved in the community event. Canseco will joined by members of the Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Raiders, at the local event. (Las Vegas Review Journal file photo)
Ex-A’s star, first 40-40 man in baseball history, World Champion and MVP José Canseco will participate in the Battle for Vegas. In its fourth year, a popular community event that brings members of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Vegas Raiders, and this year the A’s are joining the local event. The event will take place on July 22 at Las Vegas Aviators Ballpark.The A’s Community Foundation was added as a sponsor for the Battle for Vegas 2023 charity softball game, which will benefit the Public Education Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters this year. A’s President David Kaval said in a statement according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “As the A’s work toward finalizing relocation to Las Vegas, we are proud and honored to support Reilly Smith and members from Vegas Golden Knights, along with Maxx Crosby and his teammates as they engage in a friendly game of softball at our affiliate team’s ballpark while raising funds for deserving nonprofits.”The Oakland A’s are getting its community efforts going in Las Vegas ahead of their potential relocation. Commissioner Rob Manfred in Seattle, for the All-Star Game, said that the A’s had begun their relocation efforts, later to be voted by MLB team owners.Canseco is a resident of Las Vegas, where he owns and operates a popular Car Wash off the strip. Kaval added about the A’s participation in this community event: “We can’t think of a better way to start engaging with the Las Vegas community scene and the charity softball game.” While James Sullivan, co-founder of the Battle for Vegas, said: “We are thrilled to have the A’s Community Foundation as a Battle for Vegas partner.”Team Reilly includes the NHL Champions Golden Knights Jack Eichel, Adin Hill, Keegan Kolestar, Nicolas Hague, Logan Thompson, and Zach Whitecloud, Shea Theodore, and fan favorite Ryan Reaves. Team Maxx includes Crosby and Raiders Nate Hobbs, AJ Cole, Daniel Carlson, Tre-von Moehrig, and Dylan Parham. The A’s will be represented by Canseco, who will be in both, the game and the home run derby.This Las Vegas charity event has raised more than $550,000 since 2018 for local nonprofits. Gates open at 5 PM July 22, with the home run derby starting at 6:30 pm and opening pitch for the game at 7:30 PM, all at the A’s Triple-A Affiliate Las Vegas Aviators Stadium.This year’s competition will benefit the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, distributing funds to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southern Nevada, and The Public Education Foundation of Las Vegas.Note: The Teachers Union and vote in Las Vegas efforts won’t affect A’s ballpark, according to the LVCVA, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Podcast - Opposing teams might have problem playing in minor league parks if A’s leave Coliseum; All Star Game in Seattle tonight
July 11, 2023
Memories of Oakland – (No.7 in Series)
July 8, 2023
Sergio Varona standing behind Evelio A. Mendoza and Amaury Pi-González Oakland A’s KNTA 1430AM Radio. That year broadcast 120 games in Spanish. (photo from Amaury Pi Gonzalez)
Sergio Varona, born in Cuba, who settled in San Francisco, California, and was the sports editor for El Bohemio News, a weekly Spanish newspaper in San Francisco joined the Oakland A’s Spanish radio broadcast in the mid 1980s, bringing a lot of his knowledge in professional baseball.Varona was a manager for the Cuban National Baseball team when they won the world cup of Baseball and also a manager for the professional baseball team “Alacranes de Almendares” in the 1950s a team in which Bob Allison, Tommy LaSorda, Sandy Amorós and other major leaguers played during the famous Winter League in Cuba.Everyone who knew Sergio missed him very much; he passed in 2015 in Pembroke Pines, (Miami area) Florida. Sergio Varona also received the Salón de la Fama del Deporte Cubano (Cuban Sports Hall of Fame) and received an award for “Periodismo”, Journalism.During our broadcast, Sergio was like “a second manager,” but in our booth. He brought a totally different angle to the games as his commentary was a well-seasoned professional opinion of the game as it was played, that day. He would never scream or root for the A’s on the air, he was the consummate professional and analyst, straightforward and honest with everybody.Sergio Varona was a good close friend of Bill Rigney, another lifelong baseball man who played in the majors with the New York Giants from 1946 to 1953 and later managed in the major for 18 years for the NY and SF Giants, LA and CA Angels and Minnesota Twins. Rigney for a time was also doing commentary working for the Oakland A’s radio and television.Varona and Rigney would talk strategy prior or after and it was priceless, just to listen, because these guys played and managed at the professional level, something that not many broadcast teams are privileged to have on board today. Also, unlike today, at that time very seldom an ex player of ex manager was hired to do commentary on the air.Varona was only available for our weekend broadcast, Saturday and Sundays, but he left a mark with his commentary. People would call the station and asked questions, (Ask Sergio). I would gather those questions and would ask him during the live broadcast. I would give the name, where they lived , and then read the question.. Sergio would answer the question, live on the air. Questions were received by mail or folks called them in.The games were on KNTA Radio 1430AM Santa Clara, Gene Hogan was the General Manager. We called 120 A’s games, all home and the most of the road games . The road games were recreated from the studio in front of a television monitor, with the consent of the A’s TV broadcast.Sergio Varona was full of knowledge and insight and shared that knowledge and insight with yours truly. Muchas Gracias Sergio.
A Relocation Update
July 7, 2023
Major League Commissioner Rob Manfred addresses the news media on Thu Jun 15, 2023 at MLB Headquarters in New York. The owners will be taking a vote on the relocation of the Oakland A’s that date has not yet been determined (AP News photo)
Why are the Major League Baseball owners yet to approve the A’s relocation from Oakland, California to Las Vegas, Nevada? Very simple, the A’s are late in this endeavor, and they (A’s) just begun the process to apply for relocation. Almost a month already had passed since Nevada’s Governor Joe Lombardo signed the Senate Bill into law. The owners are waiting for the A’s relocation plan, which would explain why the A’s are leaving one city to move to another. The other 29 owners need to know why they are leaving Oakland to Las Vegas. Have they tried and exhausted all their options in Oakland? Is Las Vegas a brand new untapped market that would benefit Major League Baseball?It was on June 15, Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Baseball said the following:“It has always been baseball’s policy and preference to stay put,” “I think that always colors any conversation about relocation. Having said that, I think the owners as a whole understand that there has been a multiyear, pushing-a-decade effort where for the vast majority of the time, the sole focus was Oakland.-After the owners get the A’s relocation plan, owners have to review, and then send it to another owners committee for approval. Seventy-five percent of owners have to approve the relocation petition by the A’s. Nobody knows how the owners will vote. Most are probably are anxious to end this long running issue of the A’s new park, others (probably the big markets) might not be very happy with shelling money to A’s and other small market teams via revenue sharing. Ironically the A’s in Las Vegas would be in the smallest baseball media market in the US. For years I have refused to accept that the A’s in Oakland were a “small market” team, in my opinion, just ridiculous, we have almost 7 million people living in the 9-county Bay Area, around San José, San Francisco and Oakland. However, it is believed, that if the A’s present a coherent petition at least 22 owners would vote Yes to the relocation.The owners want to get the Oakland A’s situation resolved, as well as the Tampa Bay Rays, so they can move together under the Commissioner on expansion of two more teams. There will be no expansion until Oakland and Tampa are settled. And who knows, Oakland might even get an expansion team after losing the A’s or even a larger bay area city, like San José who already threw their hat in the ring and asked the Commissioner to “free them” from the Giants owning their territory, the same territory the A’s gave the Giants in 1990, as San Francisco was in danger or losing the team to Florida. By the way, I believe San José has an excellent chance to get an expansion team. They presented their request to the Commissioner who did not say No, but, said that MLB is working on the Athletics relocation. Again, there will be no expansion until Oakland and Tampa Bay resolve their stadiums situations.To be resolved:-The over $1 Billion to build the proposed new ballpark. The A’s most prove they can come up with the remaining $1.1 billion in private financing to fund the rest of the $1.5 billion ballpark project. They already got $380 million from the State of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas and then signed by the Nevada governor, at the time, which was believed to be the biggest hurdle.-There is also another issue at the Nevada Legislation, which was previously on the table.. The A’s agreed in principle to sign a 30-year no-relocation agreement with Las Vegas to another city. This is mostly a “done deal”, since both sides agreed during the Nevada Legislation special sessions, regarding the A’s Bill, but now the A’s owner would have to sign it to make it official.-The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Athletics new planned baseball park in Las Vegas. A’s will have to abide by the laws of federal aviation. That seems also to be a done deal. This is more diplomatic than anything else.There could be more curve balls thrown at this, but this is the ‘bread and butter’ of the relocation of the Oakland A’s, as we approach the 2023 All Star Break. The Oakland A’s already announced they will play the 2024 season at the Oakland Coliseum. After that, nobody seems to know, and if they do know, they have not said a word. The A’s AAA affiliate Las Vegas Aviators to date have 11 sellouts and lead the Pacific Coast League in attendance, even with temperatures consistently over 100 degrees (no dome), as reported by the Independent in Las Vegas. This park could be the leading contender to host the A’s for a few years (after 2024) until they inaugurate their new MLB park in 2028. The players union will have a say on this also; of course, there is no hidden agenda here. Like they say in Vegas “all cards are on the table”.Is the relocation to Las Vegas a sure thing? On the words of the great Benjamin Franklin after signing the US Constitution (quote) “Nothing can be said is certain, except Death and Taxes.
Memories of Oakland (No.6 in Series) 1987 All-Star Game at Coliseum
July 5, 2023
Official ball used in 1987 All-Star game. (Courtesy Oakland Athletics)
On July 14,1987 the Oakland Coliseum hosted the 1987 MLB All-Star Game. There were two Oakland Athletics on this game representing the American League and both were in the reserves; first baseman Mark McGwire and relief pitcher Jay Howell.A’s legend Rickey Henderson was in the starting lineup but for the New York Yankees. McGwire won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1987 and went on the establish the current record for a rookie of 49 home runs.The A’s had three consecutive Rookies of the Year, José Canseco in 1986, Mark McGwire in 1987, and Walt Weiss in 1988. 49,671 were in attendance at the Coliseum for that night’s game won by the National League All-Stars 2-0 over the American League All-Stars in 13 innings; Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos was named the Most Valuable Player. This was the only time since the A’s played at Oakland that the Oakland Coliseum hosted an MLB All-Star game.Named by the Oakland A’s ownership as part of the Clout Committee, I was privileged to meet with various civic personalities, including the Mayor of Oakland Lionel Wilson as well as others in the community. The All-Star Gala is always a special gathering of community and baseball people, my wife Gail and I sat at a table that included two Twins greats, Kirby Pucket and Tony Oliva.Prior to the game at the Coliseum, Bay Area Media personality, Rich Lieberman introduced me to the one and only Larry King, who was said to have conducted over 50,000 interviews on radio and television, from Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Paul McCartney to Margaret Thatcher and thousands in-between.The Walter Haas ownership of the Oakland A’s did a wonderful job organizing this big event together with the City of Oakland and Major League Baseball, it was a classy well-organized event that made Oakland proud.There was a time when Oakland was a proud city, as a matter of fact Oakland was once called ‘City of Champions”, with the A’s winning three consecutive World Series in 1972-73-74, the Warriors winning the NBA title in the 1974-75 season and the Raiders winning in 1976 the first of their three Superbowl titles.It is said that Gertrude Stein, who was raised in Oakland, when later she grew up and became an American novelist, playwright and art collector, and then moved to Paris in 1903 where she lived for the rest of her life once said about Oakland; ”When you get there, there isn’t any THERE there.”Two years later, after the 1987 MLB All-Star Game, the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the A’s vs Giants World Series, which the As swept in four games. It was felt that it would be inappropriate to have a parade in Oakland for the World Series champion Oakland Athletics.They did celebrate, though with this subdued celebration (a victory rally) at the Jack London Waterfront and broadcast live by local San Francisco CBS affiliate, KPIX. It would be the last civic celebration by a professional sports franchise in Oakland until 2015 when the Warriors won the NBA title.I always remember 1987 as a good year for Oakland and a “departing point” for what came later for the Oakland Athletics during the great Tony LaRussa years.
Cuban Players in the All Star Game-No Embargo or Blockade here
July 3, 2023
Tampa Bay Rays Yandy Diaz has been selected to the 2023 American League All Star Team in Seattle (Tampa Bay Times photo file)
In 1960 de US government placed an embargo on Cuba’s communist regime after the government nationalized US-owned companies and offered zero compensation. Later Fidel Castro’s government also nationalized Cuban citizens-owned businesses.Castro declared himself and his government a Marxist-Leninist. The great exodus of Cubans began around that time. Cuba is the leader in baseball in Latin America even before Castro (crazy about baseball) was even born.Because he eradicated all professional sports in the island, including baseball, he did not make baseball more popular as the government sponsored all sports, as the Soviet Union was doing, but most of the Cuban players that were playing then in the Major Leagues and also in Cuba, like Luis Tiant, Octavio (Cookie) Rojas, Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, and Tony Taylor.Mike Fornieles and many others who love the game of baseball left in the next few years. Castro forgot that these Cuban players although they loved the game they also loved the freedom to play in the Major League. That freedom was denied by the Cuban dictatorship.Esteban Bellán, born in La Habana, Cuba, was the first Latin American baseball player to play in a North American professional league when it was formed in 1871 with the Troy Haymakers. Today, 63 years after the US-Cuban embargo, which also affected Cuban players because the Cuban government prohibited them from traveling outside and playing in the US, a total of at least five Cuban players have been selected for this 2023 MLB All-Star Game on July 11 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.These are those Cuban players, Yandy Díaz (Tampa Bay), Yordan Alvarez (Houston Astros) who should be back from the injured list, Randy Arozarena (Tampa Bay), Adolis García (Miami Marlins), Lourdes Gourriel (Arizona Diamondbacks, Luis Robert Jr. (Chicago White Sox). Others like, Yonnier Cano (Baltimore Orioles) could be in Seattle as well the possibility of Jorge Soler of the Miami Marlins.In 1968 a total of six Cuban players went to the All Star Game at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. In 2014 at Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota four Cubans were selected. Today there are over 20 Cuban-born players in the major leagues.They have suffered along with the Cuban people the lack of freedom in their country of birth. The great majority had to escape the island in very dangerous circumstances. Some when playing outside of Cuba, defected and asked for political exile, like Oakland A’s Aledmys Díaz.Many had no choice but to leave their families behind as they chose their dream, like the majority of baseball players all over the world, to play in the Major Leagues. All-Star Game: This July 11th at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. A’s outfielder-DH Brent Rooker was selected to represent the Oakland A’s.Rooker had an excellent first half of the season, however anybody that follows the A’s, for this whole first half knows that rookie Esteury Ruíz has been the most productive and exciting player for Mark Kotsay’s team. Brent Rooker has played in72 games, average of .243 with a team leading 14 Home runs and 41 runs batted-in.Esteury Ruíz is the A’s everyday center fielder and makes all the plays, and then some, he has played 83 games with 33 RBI, top in doubles for the team with 19 and has stolen 42 bases which is #1 in the major leagues.Rooker has played for Minnesota and Kansas City prior to arriving with the A’s, he is not a rookie. Ruíz playing, in his very first season in the major, he is a rookie and could be a serious candidate for Rookie of The Year.