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March 24, 2010
Neyer: No A's decision until Selig has the votes
ESPN's Rob Neyer, as usual, has a cogent take on that never-ending Oakland A's relocation study:
It should be 29-to-1; you can hardly blame the Giants for wanting to keep the A's out of San Jose. But it's not 29-to-1, because some of the other clubs are afraid of setting a precedent, and also because the Giants (presumably) have some favors they can call in. And despite the impression you might sometimes get, Bud Selig can't just do whatever he likes.
It's been a year (and counting) not because Selig's committee can't come up with a reasonable recommendation regarding the future of the Athletics. It's because Selig knows what that recommendation is (or will be), but hasn't yet been able to garner the support from enough owners to implement the recommendation.
Neyer is simply stirring crap up Neil; that's the job of a columnist (for ratings, discussion, reader traffic, so Neil can make a blog post of it, etc.)
As for territories (both geographic/television), the "precedent" was set years ago: NY Giants move into Boston Red Sox territory (yes, the Bay Area once belonged to the BoSox), the SF Giants territorial expansion into Santa Clara County for their "relocation" to San Jose, and the Expos move to DC/Orioles TV territory. Besides, with the exception of the A's and Rays, all the clubs are set with ballparks and host city's/territories.
As for the Giants, their standing within MLB is nill. This is a club that infuriated ownership when they privately financed then Pac Bell Park and then, a few years later, allowed a drug dealer unfettered access to the club house (see steroids, Balco, and Bonds). Couple this with Neukom being a rather "junior" owner, and I say the Giants won't be allowed to rock the boat!
Enough said on Neyer's piece!
Of the examples you give, none stepped on any existing owners' toes, except for the Expos to D.C. - and even there, with Angelos on MLB's shit list after he balked at the lockout, Selig still held up the Nats' TV deal for months while he worked out a plan that would make Angelos happy.
Neyer is absolutely right here: As a commissioner, Selig has made a habit of operating by consensus. A San Jose territorial rights deal may well be worked out eventually, but if so, it'll be behind the scenes in negotiations, not through a commission dropping an unexpected ultimatum on the Giants' doorstep.
I wouldn't necessarily call allowing the A's to relocate 40-miles further from SF to San Jose "stepping on the Giants toes", since the only reason the Giants were granted those rights in 1992 is because they themselves were supposed to move to SJ! Besides, the Giants "toes" shouldn't be that big and encompass a city of over a million people. Again, what's in the best interest of MLB: two succesful franchises spaced 40 miles apart, or one succesful and a purpetual welfare recipient 10 miles to the east? I think we would agree on the answer to that one.
Most of that doesn't matter, though, because this isn't about logical arguments. It's about what you can horse-trade to Rep. Stupak to get his vote.
Go read "Lords of the Realm" by John Helyar, particularly the bit about the two camps of competing owners at the retreat with George W. Bush running back and forth between the tents as intermediary. I think that'll give you a better sense of the owner politics (and egos) involved here.