SBD/September 20, 2013/Franchises

Wolff's Comments Continue To Draw Heat, As Keith Olbermann Joins The Fray

ESPN's Keith Olbermann Thursday criticized recent comments by A's Owner Lew Wolff concerning the low turnout to games at O.co Coliseum during the final weeks of the season, saying, "Everybody in sports knows to never attack the hometown fans no matter what." Olbermann: "Do you think the people who are not going to the A's games are reading that quote in USA Today? No, they're already busy ignoring the A's. That quote is being read by his loyal fans and they think he's blaming them for ... not reproducing quickly enough?" Olbermann said if someone is running a business and "your response to low customer turnout is to wonder what's wrong with the customers, you may be in the wrong business or the wrong guy may be running your business." Wolff's quotes imply that he "thinks attendance operates in a vacuum, that there are no other factors other on the field success, that geography is irrelevant or weather or transportation, or the fact he's been trying to move the team to San Jose. ... Or sewage." MLB Network's Richard Justice said, "You don't rip the home fans and … until last year, the team had been bad. As we've seen in Cleveland, we've seen in Baltimore, if you are irrelevant for a long time, sometimes the fans just don't come back automatically." Justice: "My advice to Lew Wolff would be just say, 'We love you. Please come out. We've got a good team to watch.'" Olbermann said it is "particularly a shame now that those comments or sewage issues or the attendance numbers or anything else would overwhelm in terms of publicity what they're doing on the field, because no one thought they were going to win that division last year" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 9/19).

WELCOME TO REALITY: ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said he understands Wolff's "frustration," but O.co Coliseum is a ballpark "where sewage leaks into the dugout and into the clubhouse." Gutierrez: "There's nothing appealing about going to this place. The baseball season is really long. And even if you're in the hunt, if they know you're going to make the playoffs, they'll just wait for the playoffs." ESPN's Pablo Torre said there is "too much supply and too little demand." Torre: "You need to reduce the number of games -- 162 is way too long for a playoff team in a small market. It's not the fans' fault, it's baseball's." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw called the ballpark a "dump" and noted while Wolff has "tried to take the team to Freemont, now he's trying to take the team to San Jose, and the fans are very aware of that." Cowlishaw: "That keeps them from coming out in droves" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/19).
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