It’s been six years since talk began of moving the Oakland A’s to San Jose, and nearly three years since MLB commissioner appointed a three-man committee to
write a report and then wait for him to tell them what the conclusions should be study the issue.
Since then, the two sides have largely become entrenched — A’s owner Lew Wolff wants to move to San Jose, the San Francisco Giants say they won’t give up what MLB considers part of their territory without a substantial payoff — so we’ve been mostly left to ponder rumors and the occasional outburst from Wolff about how long it’s all taking. This weekend, though, took the cake as far as rumor-mongering:
- It all started on Saturday, when Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Selig plans to meet with A’s and Giants officials in the next two weeks to try to resolve the standoff. Of course, unless he starts actually twisting arms — something he’s been loath to do in the past — it’s hard to see what he’ll accomplish, but it’s true that it is action of a sort.
- Rosenthal further speculated that if the Giants won’t okay a San Jose move, MLB could buy the A’s, negotiate a stadium deal with Oakland, and then sell them to a new owner, a la the Washington Nationals. Which assumes that MLB would have any better luck extracting a generous stadium deal from Oakland than Wolff or a new owner would, but again, sure, could happen.
- Newballpark.org, in reporting on Rosenthal’s article, asserted that they’ve “been hearing” that “some sort of resolution is due as soon as January.” Which could be true, or could be wishful thinking, or could be someone trying to put the heat on Selig — hard to say, with not even a hint of who the source is for this.
- Finally, Newballpark.org followed that up with a post speculating that the reason for the long delay has been that Selig was waiting for “Moneyball” to be out of theaters.
Most likely, all this is just blowing smoke, the Giants-A’s standoff over territorial rights fees will continue, and January will come and go with no resolution. There is, however, one possible way that Selig could resolve things: If he genuinely thinks that San Jose is a better market than Oakland for MLB — which is an open question, but work with me here — he could have MLB pay part of the Giants payoff itself, a la what he arranged last week to grease the wheels for the Houston Astros‘ move to the American League.
It wouldn’t be nearly as easy a lift — MLB only paid out $35 million in the Astros deal, and the Giants would no doubt want many times that to allow a San Jose move — but now that the precedent has been set, you can’t totally rule it out. Once Brad Pitt has accepted his Academy Award, that is.