The enemy of my enemy is my friend, Part Deux

Shortly after Commissioner Bud Selig convened his three-man panel to figure out what to do with the A’s, all sorts of political machinations started happening. That included then-Oakland City Attorney John Russo (now City Manager of Alameda) penning a lawsuit threat against the A’s. I wrote back then:

What recourse do the Giants have, then? They can try to go to bat for Oakland, even though they have no history of doing that previously. Even though, in moving to China Basin, they’ve actively siphoned East Bay fans away from the A’s. Even though they’ve held a regional hegemony for decades. It wouldn’t be hard to posture themselves as saviors of baseball in Oakland – no matter how strange that sounds – as it wouldn’t require much effort and could be done in a sort of stealth mode. It wouldn’t be difficult to get a few letters from prominent pols in order, so no problem there either. The best part is for the Giants is that it works. It paints Wolff as a villain and Oakland as a victim, despite the backstory’s greater complexity.

Eerie, no?

Now we have word from the Trib that Jean Quan has met with Giants ownership. That wouldn’t be the first time. Perhaps it’s completely altruistic, in that they’re instructing her on how to put together an AT&T Park-style stadium deal, the kind that Clorox CEO Don Knauss is pursuing. (Knauss also had a lengthy interview with KQED.) Then again, this is the same Giants ownership group that may have pulled a power play to kill the Piccinini-Dolich group’s chances to buy the A’s, because the Giants didn’t want an Oakland-based group owning the A’s:

More likely, Piccinini suspects the San Francisco Giants ownership had a hand in convincing Selig to make sure the deal never materialized, especially since Selig has called the A’s move from Kansas City to Oakland “a terrible mistake.”

“I can tell you there’s an executive with the Giants, who shall go unnamed,” Piccinini said. “I ran into him at a Warriors game. He said, ‘I hear you’re getting involved with the Padres. We want you in San Diego; we just didn’t want you here.’ “

Speaking of Piccinini, he’ll be available soon if he wants to deal with the struggle to be an owner again. Piccinini is part of the Moorad group who were teased the Padres, only to have the rug pulled out from under them. Moorad won’t be able go after another team, knowing that there are permanent veto votes against him within the Lodge. Much of the rest of the Central Valley base of the ownership group should be available, and they could pull in another frontman – Andy Dolich, perhaps?

If Piccinini’s right, the Giants don’t care for the A’s in Oakland or anywhere else in the Bay Area. That makes it frustrating to see Quan consult with the Giants. The Giants aren’t doing the City of Oakland any favors. Just because they may have a somewhat allied interest (keeping the A’s out of San Jose) doesn’t mean they are allied.

If Quan’s smart, she’ll ask for some of the SF sponsors that Oakland will need because as much as the East Bay wants to puff its chest out , the pickings are slim. The Chron 200 is an annual list of the Bay Area’s largest independent, publicly-traded companies by revenue. Generally these are companies with revenues over $100 million annually. Some private companies, like Bechtel, or subsidiaries, like Matson (Alexander & Baldwin), and nonprofits (Kaiser Permanente) are excluded. Distributed by region, San Francisco has 19 of 200, with 5 in Marin County and 26 in San Mateo County. Santa Clara County has 102, or 51% of the list. Oakland has 3 companies on the list, the East Bay in total has 38.

Chron 200 list by city/county-region

If you combine SF, San Mateo, and Marin Counties, you get 50 companies. That’s not significantly greater than the East Bay’s 38 – or 40 if we include Kaiser and Matson. Straight up it would appear that there’s enough corporate strength in the East Bay to make a privately financed, $500 million ballpark happen. But the Giants’ argument for years has been that they needed the South Bay to finance AT&T Park. If that’s true then there’s a logical incongruence at work. Either the South Bay was required and there’s no other way but to include them, or the South Bay wasn’t required and the strength of the West Bay is enough. So which is it?

Also, check out the imbalance of companies in the Giants’ designated territory and the A’s. The Giants have over 75% of the Chron 200. The A’s have less than 20%.

The secrecy of the mystery ownership bidder is also a bit baffling. Lew Wolff has said that no interested party has asked him directly about selling the team. Instead, whoever’s interested has chosen to use back channels to engage Wolff – once. What is the point of that? If the East Bay coalition’s goal is to first work with the current ownership group to develop a plan to keep the A’s in Oakland, why have they never directly called Wolff once? They’ve gone semi-public twice in the last several months to indicate there’s an ownership group in waiting. Seems to me it’s a lot harder to put together a press conference than to call Wolff or arrange a meeting. For whatever reason, they haven’t done the latter. In the last comments thread, a question was posed, “Why doesn’t Lew listen to what these guys have to say?” I think the answer is that they have to present something to the man first. They’ve presented a plan to MLB three years ago that went unanswered. If they want to work with Wolff, they might want to first try to, you know, work with Wolff instead of posturing. It’s somewhat embarrassing that Mayor Quan has probably spent more time talking the Giants brass than the A’s. If A’s ownership is the enemy, don’t pussyfoot around it or hedge. Declare it and get to work. Otherwise it’s just another exercise in scoring PR or political points. And the only real winner in the end is the Giants.

154 Responses to The enemy of my enemy is my friend, Part Deux

  1. thisplanetsux says:

    I love how TonyD cheers on Bartleby purely for arguing with me. He doesn’t even care that Bartleby’s argument contradicts his own oft-repeated contention that the Giants won’t lose any significant numbers of their South Bay fans, that the A’s will simply pull a bunch of new fans out of the woodwork with plenty of others driving in from Hayward and Livermore to create TWO juggernaut baseball markets out of the Bay Area.

    “He has data you don’t, and it’s his money at risk.” Yeah, I don’t dispute that. I never have. And unlike you and your extremely dire opinions about Oakland, I’m okay with anywhere in the Bay Area. I just don’t like this particular plan from Wolff. I don’t like the way it’s evolved. I don’t like way it’s being sold. I don’t like what it’s done to the team and the fans around the Bay Area. I don’t like to see how his plan continues to give the Giants an increasing advantage over the A’s. And I’m disappointed at how little concern some fans have about a plan run by some non-baseball real estate guy from LA, seemingly fixated on a property connected to a proposed regional transit hub with billions more tax dollars set to come in there. Not being an Oakland-hater like you, I’m struggling with the why and the how. Why this plan, and nothing but this plan, now for three years running, no real end in sight. Oakland was erased from the map six years ago, can we stop blaming that City for Mr. Wolff’s decision to pursue a series of non-starter projects? It was only 9 years after Mt. Davis, and three years after beginning his “efforts” in Oakland, that he took the A’s on a new path, and that was six years ago. So here’s his list of accomplishments: 3 years of failure looking for a site in Oakland. 3 years of failure with an identified site in Fremont. 3 years of failure with an identified site in San Jose. Team descends from a powerhouse to a laughing stock.

  2. bartleby says:

    @ tps “He doesn’t even care that Bartleby’s argument contradicts his own oft-repeated contention that the Giants won’t lose any significant numbers of their South Bay fans,”
    You are mischaracterizing what I’ve said. What I’ve actually said was, with respect to general attendance, the Giants WILL lose some South Bay fans, but will make up for it by picking up East Bay fans for whom they will become the most convenient option. In fact, on this part of it, I think they come out ahead, since as you keep pointing out, the East Bay/North Bay has the larger population.
    On the part the Giants are really worried about, premium seat customers, I’ve said that the A’s will bring in new business increasing the size of the pie overall. However, I’ve never said this means the Giants won’t lose any South Bay premium seat business. I’ve said they may be able to make up some of this from the East Bay’s smaller but closer corporate base, and from the general fans they pick up. But I’ve also said this may not completely make up for it and the A’s move may pinch their margins.
    I have repeatedly said that the Giants falling back from “insanely successful” to only “wildly successful” so that the A’s can be “wildly successful,” too, is a good trade for baseball.
    Implicit in these comments is recognition that an A’s move to San Jose will result in some churn in the fanbases. None of this is inconsistent with my disagreeing with you that the South Bay is some monolithic wall of Giants fans who won’t go see a local A’s team.
    “that the A’s will simply pull a bunch of new fans out of the woodwork”
    They will. Of equal importance, a lot of existing South Bay fans of both teams will go to more games because of the added convenience.
    “with plenty of others driving in from Hayward and Livermore”
    Not what I’ve said. On the contrary, I’ve said although a fair number of East Bay fans will continue to follow the team, they are not the target market for this move.
    “to create TWO juggernaut baseball markets out of the Bay Area.”
    Juggernaut to me implies “Yankees.” That is a little stronger than what I have said. I said, “wildly successful,” maybe more at the “Angels/White Sox/Braves” level.

  3. bartleby says:

    “Team descends from a powerhouse to a laughing stock.”
    I always find it amusing when the same folks whose Schott narrative was “cheapskate carpetbagger” when he was around now credit him for building a “powerhouse.”

  4. thisplanetsux says:

    Bartleby, you kinda misunderstood the point I tried to make. I never said Giants fans would universally avoid A’s games in SJ, or no South Bay Giants fans will convert to A’s fans, or no casual fans who like the Giants more will become casual fans who like the A’s more, or anything like that. In fact I’ve written more or less everything you wrote above in describing how there will be a moderate merry go round effect as the fan bases shift. Only I lack your psychic ability to pre-characterize the results as “wildly successful”. Earlier in the thread I was just wondering how many Giants fans there are in the South Bay who are like me and most every A’s fan I know in SF and Marin and here on the peninsula that could mostly give a shit about going to non-Bay Bridge Series Giants games just because they are closer. You see the number of such fans that might need to be subtracted from the pool of potential A’s fans in the South Bay is probably higher near Diridon Station than in Oakland. Maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, it wasn’t all that important I was just thinking about it and threw it out there. The humorous part of this that I referenced is that when I said in the past that the Giants could be upset about going from “insanely successful” to only “wildly successful” TonyD jumped all over me “keep dishing out your ‘analysis’ it’s cracking me up tps!!!” to point out that people don’t switch teams, the Giants had no reason to fear that, that a combo of existing East Bay fans driving down, existing South Bay fans, and brand new baseball fans would show up for the SJ A’s, and all existing South Bay Giants fans would still go to Giants games, no change for them, just a big uptick for the A’s, everybody wins. And there he was patting you on the back for saying that same exact thing to me. It’s funny how people will just start arguing in knee-jerk fashion and not even hear the other guy anymore.

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