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June 6, 2006 > Editorial: That's the ballgame

Editorial: That's the ballgame

A Yogi Berra perspective

Baseball has taken center stage in the Tri-Cities. Suggestive remarks, sidelong glances and media hype are picking up the pace as the area prepares to welcome the "Fremont A's" in Warm Springs and/or a Newark semi-pro team playing on land behind the new Ohlone College campus. In the midst of this swirl of baseball mania, it might be wise to remember the commentary of Yogi Berra, former catcher for the New York Yankees who was rarely at a loss for words.

Speaking about the game, Yogi quipped, "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical" which in a warped way gives you an idea of how this game is played both on and off the field. After all the mental gymnastic "ifs," the notion of bringing a major sports franchise to the Tri-Cities comes down to hard, cold reality. These are multi-million dollar enterprises that depend on a steady flow of income, often subsidized in some manner by the surrounding community. The lure? ... prestige and money.

If the business community can reap enough financial rewards, the equation works. But, as Yogi might caution, "The future ain't what it used to be" and if pressed for more information, reply, "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much." There is much innuendo and accompanying winks and nods but our local negotiators need to stay focused and realize that they are dealing with people used to using glitz, glamour and showmanship while keeping a calculating eye on the bottom line.

Remember, Fremont is a city that steadfastly refuses to bring back fireworks on the Fourth of July because it might attract undesirable elements to the city. How about dealing with thousands of people from around the Bay on a daily basis? This is also the city that is poised to introduce the "Son of V" utility tax because, according to staff, there is no money to return to the good old free-spending days of 2001. In the meantime, the city needs to revitalize police and fire departments while making good on its promise of the Centerville Unified Site redevelopment and a new water play facility in Central Park. After years of consultant gibberish, Fremont continues to pour $1 million a year into a yet to be defined "downtown."

Yogi's comment so far might be "We made too many wrong mistakes" and hope to avoid an additional wisecrack of "It's like deja-vu, all over again." Although a long way from a decision on a ballpark and major league commitment, exactly what is being negotiated? Will there be a trade for future monies? or a land deal? What is being given away? Yogi's comment: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there."

Ohlone College Board of Trustees has joined the fun giving approval for modification of their Master Plan and an Environmental Impact Report from a one paragraph "Memorandum" and crude drawing of a 4,000 seat stadium behind the Newark campus. Details such as cost, access and practicality were left for another day. Why should this board worry about these considerations? Common sense has never been their strong suit in the past. They too, can learn from Yogi's repertoire. His comment might be, "If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer." However, in that case, Ohlone board meetings might be brief and silent; not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for some members, his observation, "It gets late early out there" would be appropriate.

All in all, Yogi is a man of baseball and would probably love to have both stadiums in the area. His love of baseball would naturally create a bias toward the Fremont A's and the Newark B's or whatever they would be called. His sage advice would continue, "When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it" would prevail with a caution to pick it up by the handle, careful not to jab yourself with the tines. Adding, "You can observe a lot by just watching," Yogi would end with his most famous saying, "It ain't over till it's over!"

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