Unanimity

On March 11, Chuck Greenberg was ousted as Texas Rangers’ managing partner and CEO. Nolan Ryan was named CEO immediately thereafter, with the plan to become the managing partner down the road. Two months later on May 12, Ryan was approved as the Rangers’ managing partner by a 30-0 vote.

Just over six months after Greenberg’s ouster, the Giants were forced to announce managing partner Bill Neukom’s “retirement”. Mark Purdy reported that Larry Baer would be named CEO of the team, with someone else becoming managing partner. Purdy included three names as the possible next managing partner, including Franklin Templeton Chairman Charles Johnson, who appears to be the frontrunner among internal candidates (I’m not aware of any outside money coming in at this point, though Neukom said he will divest his share in the future). The Giants will need to address that hole at the top of the organization, since it’s the managing partner who represents the team on all relevant league matters, and a fairly important league matter is coming up in CBA negotiations. (The CEO title is entirely internal to the team organization.) Based on the lead time for the slam dunk approval for Ryan and the drawn out process for Jim Crane’s purchase of the Astros, approval of the Giants’ new managing partner candidate should take at least two months.

Now we all know how much Bud Selig, who gives the ultimate thumbs up or down on all ownership matters, likes consensus (or at least the appearance of it). He had no trouble rustling up the 30-0 yea for Ryan, since the fireballer has been a known quantity in baseball for over four decades and is not the type to rock the boat. He wants the same thing for the Astros, and he should get it for the Giants. Reservations about Crane’s previous business doings have tripped him up at least in some owners’ eyes. Just as reservations stand in the way for Crane, there could be at least one owner who stands in the way of 30-0 for the Giants: Lew Wolff.

Wolff has signaled on this site that he’s going to go along with whatever the Commissioner decides, so we can’t expect Grandpa Lew to pace outside Bud’s office wearing a sandwich board. Yet he doesn’t even need to formally verbalize his dissatisfaction regarding the Giants’ territorial rights stance in an owner’s meeting – everyone knows what he thinks and the threat he represents. This provides an opportunity – or rather, an excuse – to bring the two teams to the table to work things out. The Giants have the big holdout vote on the A’s moving to San Jose, and the A’s could be the dissenter in approving a new Giants managing partner. Obviously, the two decisions are not even in the same spectrum in terms of impact, but when you have a commissioner who strives for unanimity, even the smallest tensions can upset it. What’s a commissioner who normally sits on his hands to do? The last thing he needs is the appearance of disunity among his ranks, and a stalemate between the two Bay Area teams couldn’t come at a worse time, even if CBA negotiations are not expected to be particularly rancorous. Both the Dodgers and the Mets are on Lady Justice’s clock, which means no quick resolutions for either.

It’s unfortunate that the Giants chose to make this change now, before the season is officially over. They know that the CBA is coming up, they know that Wolff is looking for a crack in the door. They were probably looking to wait until after the big decisions were complete in November-December before they announced Neukom’s departure. Purdy foiled their plan with his reportage, and if it wasn’t for the very professional Giants media relations staff, he’d be persona non grata at AT&T Park. Nevertheless, that’s where we are now, and while it’s a leap to think that Wolff will aggressively pursue a course of action or lobby owners, that crack is there.

I’ll characterize Wolff’s chances at this point at 25-30% of getting what he wants, 50% of at least getting to the table. Considering where we’ve been for the last few years, I think he’ll take the odds every time.

54 Responses to Unanimity

  1. Columbo says:

    @pjk – Wait a minute. Whoa. The east bay is continually blamed and past attendance is mentioned ad nauseum but somehow we are not allowed to factor in when they were successful and why? So Candlestick was the reason for bad G’s attendance? You don’t think G fans were pissed off that ownership wanted to get out of there? The point is that the G’s got a new stadium. The Raiders came back and the O.co changed for the worse. During this time A’s ownership and the city of Oakland had a falling out (blame whomever you’d like). The result has been poor, I think we’d all agree. There is no reason why the east bay cannot once again support the A’s given the right set of circumstances, i.e. an ownership and city that see eye-to-eye, a shiny new ballpark, marketing, etc. They are the Oakland A’s. That is my opinion and I’m sticking to it. PS – I know the response will be “who is going to pay for it — what crazy owner will donate $800m of their wealth to lose money.” My answer is that I’m assuming this is what is being worked on right now.

  2. Columbo says:

    @ SJ Fans – I want to stress that I have nothing against SJ. I completely understand your desire to obtain the A’s as your hometown team and I don’t blame you. I am not being hostile with my posts; at least I hope that’s not how it’s coming across. I can’t speak for all Oakland supporters but I can tell you that my personal and fond memories drive my passion about trying everything to keep them in town. They are my team just like the Sharks may be for many of you. From me it’s nothing personal toward any of you nor the city of SJ. May the best city win in the end.

  3. pjk says:

    The A’s were in Philadelphia and Kansas City before moving to Oakland. There is nothing that says Oakland is always entitled to have the team. If the city wants to come forward and propose public support for construction of a ballpark to compensate for the lack of available corporate dollars for such a project, we can all go out and celebrate. But Oakland has given no indication of doing that. The city wants a free ballpark like Frisco got.

  4. Simon94022 says:

    @David, T-rights changes require an amendment to the MLB Constitution, which requires the affirmative vote of 3/4 of the clubs. Although practically speaking it is Selig’s decision, since the owners always follow his lead (or he never acts until he’s built consensus), the so-called “best interests of baseball” power does not give a Commissioner power to change things like T-Rights and divisional alignments on his own.

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