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The latest stuff from the ugly Oakland A’s-San Jose saga

Aug 20, 2012, 4:38 PM EDT

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If you really don’t like the current stalemate involving the A’s, Oakland and San Jose, you’re in luck. There’s a potential break in it!  The bad news? It could lead to an even uglier situation than we currently have!

The short version: as it appears increasingly unlikely that the A’s will be allowed to move to San Jose, Lew Wolff could force Major League Baseball’s hand by simply refusing to sign a new lease with Oakland, leaving them homeless and, potentially, the ward of Major League Baseball.

The details of all of this can be found over at Field of Schemes, linking Newballpark.org’s talk about the sort of Minnesota Vikings brinksmanship over the ballpark situation.

  1. joecool16280 - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    As a Giants fan I’m starting to not want to be a fan anymore.

    • skerney - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      Then you likely were not a fan. The Giants territorial rights to San Jose are their property. The Giants have secured financing from banks for the construction of AT&T park, a privately funded ballpark that they pay more than $20 million dollars a year in mortgage, using the San Jose market as collateral. The Silicon Valley clientele is a major part of their business plan. If Selig allowed the A’s to move into San Jose he would potentially be costing the Giants millions of dollars in revenue and render their collateral greatly depreciated.

      It is in the Giants best interest to fight the A’s relocation because they are a nearly billion dollar enterprise and the A’s moving into San Jose would jeopardize their bottom line. Linear geographic distance from San Francisco is irrelevant. The Giants have spent years cultivating a fan base amongst families, corporations, and investors in Silicon Valley and San Jose in particular. The presence of the A’s would essentially nullify the years long relationship with this market.

      It is not incumbent upon San Francisco Baseball Associates LP to play nice with Lew Wolf, it is Lew Wolf and the A’s who need to recognize that they should have had a plan b.

      This is the way the free market works. I’m surprised more fans don’t see it this way.

      • Ben - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:26 PM

        A free market works through the granting of territorial concessions by a higher power? Curious.

      • skerney - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:34 AM

        Not curious, the invisible hand of the MLB economy is attached to an arm that is either legislative, (owners collective approval) or executive (Selig)

      • thomas2727 - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:48 PM

        You sure sound like an attorney on the Giants payroll

      • joecool16280 - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM

        Cute little legal blabber there. As a San Jose native I find it irritating that an entity can tell a city 50 miles south what they can’t have. Nice try with the fan nonsense dude.

      • skerney - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:32 AM

        You sound very intelligent yourself, joecool16280.

      • Marty - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:06 PM

        @Joe – Sacramento does it all the time.

        Not too up on the leagalease, but as a diehard Giants fan, my take is that SJ is in no financial position to be partially funding a pro stadium, and of course the A’s can suck it.

      • chumthumper - Aug 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        MLB is not a free market world.

  2. cackalackyank - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I am with the A’s on this…if the commisioner and other owners can’t get the Giants to back off, then I would say take it and shove it boys. The fact that the territory in question once belonged to the A’s, who for the good of MLB sceded it TO the Giants, because they were locked in a stadium battle of their own and will now not return what was given to them is disgusting. If the A’s do “become the ward of MLB” it serves Bud and his boys club right.

    • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      The fact you mention is, unfortunately, not actually factual. The territory in question never belonged to the A’s.

      • normcash - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:31 PM

        True. San Jose was the territory of neither team until the Haas family, which owned the
        A’s at the time, granted SJ terriorial status in favor of the Giants to help keep them in
        the Bay Area when it looked like they’d move to Tampa. The A’s recieved no compensation. It was strictly a goodwill gesture by the public-spirited Haas family.
        Of course, the Giants being the Giants, it’s not surprising now that the shoe’s on the
        other foot that they are telling the A’s to stuff it. Nor is it surprising that Selig has allowed this farce to go unresolved nor that he established a big public lie in the form of a
        “committee” to study it. Truly pathetic.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        Other than that it was the MLB owners acting in concert and not the A’s who granted these rights to the Giants, and that all this occurred a couple of years prior to the proposed move to Tampa, before Bob Lurie gave up on the Bay Area and decided to sell, the history you relate here is for the most part sound.

        And yes, the A’s asked for an received no parallel concession; basically, Walter Haas chose to stand aside and make no claim. I agree that this decision rose above self-interest, even if some self-interest played into it (as related by seeingwhatsticks below).

        But, I do not agree with your basic premise that “turnabout is fair play” applies here, mainly because the current Giants ownership group and the A’s current ownership group bought their respective franchises after these rights had already been assigned, and have either made significant investments or should have made them based on the terms of their ownership that they bought into. It is not the Giants’ responsibility to abandon its investments in order to compensate for the A’s current ownership group’s failure to do this.

        Also, it’s not at all clear to me, if the Giants were somehow persuaded to do so, that the result really would be “better for MLB and better for fans”, as many commenters here have assumed. I think it’s just as likely that the result of this would be two Bay Area franchises that can’t keep up with the likes of the Phillies, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Angels, instead of just one. If the Giants need their entire territory as its currently comprised in order to do so (and where is the argument that they don’t?), while the A’s can’t do so with their current territory, the likeliest result of dividing the Giants’ spoils is spoilage.

        We may just be seeing the inevitable result of the escalation of resources required to maintain a frontline MLB franchise. There may be only one set of corporate sponsorships and regional TV deals available hereabouts to nurture a top-flight franchise. If that is so, then I am truly sorry for the A’s fans. But the A’s ownership seems to agree, as they’re not even trying to duplicate what the Giants have developed.

      • normcash - Aug 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

        Well, jk, I absolutely give no credence to investors’ self-interested claims today that 20 years ago the territorial rights issue mattered to them. They would be as free to “consolidate” and “target” (whatever that means) their marketing to the south bay
        without those rights as with them. Until the A’s began making noises about moving to SJ,
        I bet 99.9% of fans in Santa Clara county didn’t even know about the supposed territorial
        rights, much less care about them.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM

        Fine. I’m equally free to treat with equal skepticism any pledge Lew Wolff makes or implies to increase his investment in his franchise once a move to SJ is complete and he bags a substantial bump in the value of his real estate investments there. As far as I’m concerned, he’s just as likely to cry Loria-poor after the move as he is now, especially given that there is virtually no way that such a move would be approved without some form of indemnity.

        So, another discussion in which stating a verifiable fact earns more than 6x thumbs down than thumbs up. Emotional topic, clearly. I’m sorry for the A’s fans that it has come to this, even though I don’t believe the Giants are either at fault or obliged to pay the price of improving the A’s lot.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Again, the move by the Haas family was not entirely a goodwill gesture. At the time San Francisco was still bigger than San Jose and obviously much closer to Oakland than San Jose with much better public transportation access. Haas saw an opportunity to poach San Francisco from the Giants without looking like the bad guy who forced the Giants to leave the Bay Area. Maybe there was a degree of goodwill in his move, but it certainly wasn’t a selfless act. The A’s would have been much better off with the Giants in San Jose than with the Giants in a brand new ballpark in San Francisco.

      • skerney - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:48 PM

        Spot on. People who advocate the A’s moving to San Jose irrespective of the Giants territorial rights are essentially advocating the seizure of a corporation’s property by another corporation. Selig will not set that precedent and should have told the A’s as much years ago.

      • paperlions - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:31 PM

        Except, of course, that’s bullshit.

        No one owns SJ, and corporations can build where ever they like regardless of the proximity to competitors.

        If Wolff built a park and moved to SJ there is no way MLBs definition of “territorial rights” would hold up in court….and MLB likely wouldn’t want to delve into anything that would jeopardize their exempt monopoly status, which they would surely lose if it was ever challenged.

      • normcash - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        Your assertions are not only sheer speculation about the Haas family’s motives, but utterly illogical. If they really wanted the Giants to leave, the better course would have been to do nothing at all. The implication is that if the Giants got territorial rights to SJ, they’d move
        there instead of out of state whereupon the A’s would move to SF? To play in Candlestick?
        PLEASE! And even the Haas family couldn’t afford to build a new park.

        As for jkcalhoun’s remarks, worries that the Giants would move arose long before it came to a head when Lurie threatened to sell. That was precisely WHY the owners asked Haas
        to grant territorial rights. The argument Giants partisans trot out to the effect that these rights were somehow crucial to investors is nonesense. Nobody bought shares of the Giants because they thought the A’s wouldn’t move to SJ. They bought their shares believing a new park would get built in SAN FRANCISCO. An A’s park in SJ would be further away from AT&T Park than the Coliseum. What’s really going on is that the Giants
        would love to force the A’s out of the Bay Area and see these “rights” as their lever to do it,
        pure and simple.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:54 PM

        I think it would hold up in court because Wolff knew the deal not only before building the park but before even buying the team. You can’t think of individual teams as corporations and instead think of MLB as a corporations with 30 different divisions or departments. There are lots of things that the owners of MLB teams aren’t allowed to do under MLB rules that an owner of any independent corporation would be allowed to do at any time.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:14 PM

        They bought their shares believing a new park would get built in SAN FRANCISCO.

        Norm, you would do well to learn more about how that ballpark actually got built. The San Jose connection was crucial.

        What’s really going on is that the Giants would love to force the A’s out of the Bay Area and see these “rights” as their lever to do it, pure and simple.</blockquote.

        I find it odd that folks who praise Walter Haas on the one hand for his civic-minded selflessness are able on the other hand to ascribe the most venal motives to anyone who does not yield to the force of their own interests. Indeed, I can't think of a worse way to honor Walter Haas than to cater to Lew Wolff.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:15 PM

        Oops. Forgot to close the tag there.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:45 PM

        Nobody bought shares of the Giants because they thought the A’s wouldn’t move to SJ. They bought their shares believing a new park would get built in SAN FRANCISCO.

        Absolutely, but on the assumption of crucial ongoing support coming out of the South Bay. Don’t take my word for it. Take the invesstors’.

        The population of Santa Clara County alone represents 43% of our territory. Upon purchasing the team 20 years ago, our plan to revive the franchise relied heavily on targeting and solidifying our fan base in the largest and fastest growing county within our territory.

        Now of course you may believe that they’re just throwing up a smokescreen, but I would argue that their actions actually back their claim here.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 20, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        If the Giants were done with Candlestick and couldn’t get a park built in the city then why would the A’s move there? The A’s wanted San Francisco to be closer to the A’s than the Giants. BART can get you from downtown San Francisco to the Coliseum in about 25-30 minutes, whereas there’s no public transportation from San Francisco to the proposed Santa Clara stadium site (where the 49ers are currently building) and driving that stretch takes an hour on a good day. On a normal weekday around game time that drive can take 90 minutes, so the A’s would have been half the distance from San Francisco as the Giants.

      • natslady - Aug 20, 2012 at 10:59 PM

        paperlions, I wish that were true. Because if it were, Angelos could not have screwed the Nats. How Baltimore came to “own” territorial rights over the Nation’s Capitol is a mystery to me, particularly since we had teams here.

      • skerney - Aug 21, 2012 at 4:53 AM

        Actually paperlions, the Giants DO own San Jose. It is in the MLB constitution ratified by the owners, Lew Wolf included. And no, baseball teams whether they be corporations or LPs cannot just move to any place they want. The Giants territorial rights would 100% hold up in court and Wolf knows it, that’s why he has to get Seligs blessing to move. It is so he can avoid an lawsuit that he knows he would lose. If the A’s thought that the Giants claim to SJ was illegal (i.e. not being able to hold up in court) why didn’t he do it years ago?

        Additionally, MLB’s protected monopoly status is immaterial to the A’s situation. The monopoly concerns interstate commerce, and the disputed territory is solely in the state of California. So if you are going to call bullshit on my comment, try to not be wrong about every claim you make.

  3. chill1184 - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    This whole thing is F-ing insane.

  4. raidernation831 - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I really do support Bay Area teams, but the Giant’s front office is showing a lack of class. Seriously, San Jose is further than Oakland is from San Francisco! If Selig had any guts he would allow the move. The A’s shouldn’t be forced to stay in a city that doesn’t want to build a park as opposed to moving to a city which is more than willing. Giant’s look really bad on this one.

    • jlovenotjlo - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      Exactly! Won’t a lot of “northern” East Bay (Berkeley, Richmond, etc.) folks be more likely to attend Giants games now? Don’t forget they’ll now have a complete corner on markets north of the Golden Gate Bridge, already Giants territory, but people in Santa Rosa and what not will not have a realistic option to even attend A’s games anymore.

      I simply can’t believe the Giants are fretting this much over a team moving quite a bit farther away.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        As has already been stated, the distance between the two teams’ stadiums is not at issue. The Giants are fretting about the loss of what they claim comprises 43% of the population of their territory. And if the addition of the communities you mention were ample and sufficient compensation, one would be obliged to argue that the A’s don’t need to make the swap.

  5. EK Ohio - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Move to Portland and become the Thinkers.

    • Marty - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      Nice.

  6. drewsylvania - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Not seeing the downside. They’d probably only be the ward of the league for a season. As opposed to remaining in Wolff’s hands, where the team is stuck with Ebenezer Scrooge indefinitely.

  7. emeraldcityfan - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/641007-oakland-as-new-stadium-did-lew-wolff-ever-give-oakland-serious-consideration

    I think this says it all about Lew’s intentions….

    • keepthisrealbro - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      bleacher report……… LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  8. castillo_ken - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    The Sacramento A’s has a good sound to it

  9. Old Gator - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    San Antonio – Austen has a much larger area population than about a dozen other major league cities, including San Francisco, Oakland or San Jose. And San Antonio fell hook, line and sucker for Scrooge McLoria’s feint at moving the Feesh there before the overpriced hookers on the Macondo county and city commissions caved to his threats and blandishments and built him Macondo Banana Massacre Field. South central Tejas would fall all over itself to build Lew his state-of-the-art bullf…heh, I mean, baseball stadium, ideally situated somewhere on the north side of San Antone, not all that far from the kitsch kingdom of New Braunfels, with the big student markets of UT, UTSA, Texas State in San Marcos thrown in for good measure, and access to the I-35 and I-10 corridors. Why they’re clawing each other’s eyes out over turf along the slip/strike fault is kinda beyond me.

    Anyway, the yuppies over at Yoshi’s won’t even notice that they’re gone.

    • cowboysoldiertx - Aug 20, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      Texas can easily hold another team. And I would love to say screw you Rangers and Astros!

  10. abbeyleeishot - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Wow isnt this America ? I wish I could have told Hooter and BJ’s they couldnt build new restaurants within 500 feet of my restaurant because I was there first. If the Giants were true men they would allow the move and simply try to out preform the A’s on the field and in the marketing of their team. Seeing how the A’s have always done a lot more with a lot less it is no suprise to me that they hide like cowards from a open market challenge. I dont care if the A’s and the Hass family gave the rights over themselves or in conjuction with the rest of the owners , the fact is theh didnt take legal action or cry in the media. history has shown the A’s are the better team on the field and a better organization. One thing for sure is the people of Oakland do t deserve the team as they fail to show up to games and have made no major or organized effort to push their elected officials to build the team a new stadium. With the Warriors going acoss the bay and the Raiders poised to bolt if they dont get a new stadium Oaklnad will soon be left with nothing.

    • jkcalhoun - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:30 PM

      ‘m sure the Rays are just as likely to enjoy the right to move to New Jersey and share in the spoils of the Greater New York Metropolitan Area, as soon as they can disentangle themselves from their unfortunate lease.

  11. thomas2727 - Aug 20, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    As somebody who used to live and San Jose and still works there it pisses me off that the Giants can stand in the way of the A’s moving there.

    I keep wondering if the City of San Jose would consider legal action? Of course they are in a dire financial situation like most cities these days.

    This always seems to come back to the mysteriously granted antitrust exemption that Bud will fight to the death to maintain.

  12. psunick - Aug 20, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    @paperlions

    You got it!

  13. 65panhed - Aug 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Oklahoma City Lightning anyone?

  14. keepthisrealbro - Aug 21, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    How is it that everyone is missing the fact there is a minor league team already in san jose?

  15. castillo_ken - Aug 21, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    The Inland Empire Athletics

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