AAA Affiliate shuffle: Love the one you’re (not) with

A flurry of PDC agreements came throughout the day. It seemed that the A’s kicked things off before 10 AM with their 4-year PDC with the Nashville Sounds. However, the Giants and Sacramento River Cats scheduled their own press conference, also at 10, to talk about their 2-year PDC. Then all the other affiliates and PDCs got in line, finishing with a hastily agreed upon agreement between the Brewers and Colorado Springs.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin even sounded like a spurned lover:

“Very disappointing. We gave them 10 years there. A number of times we had a chance to move and we were patient with (the Sounds). I’m just disappointed they wouldn’t have given us two [more] years for what we put up with there.”

There happens to be Greer Stadium, the aging, 36-year old ballpark south of downtown Nashville which is being replaced by shiny First Tennessee Park. The agreement’s only for 2 years, which may allow the Brewers to try another city, since Colorado Springs is only slightly above the seventh circle of hell when it comes to desirable affiliate cities because of park factors. That doesn’t explain why the Rockies were so eager to bolt for Albuquerque, a city that is more than a mile above sea level. The game of musical chairs, which was truly kicked off by the Dodgers when co-owner Peter Guber bought a 50% interest in the Oklahoma City Red Hawks last week. OKC will be the new AAA affiliate of the Dodgers, which left the Astros to hook up with the Fresno Grizzlies.

All of this was done in the last 24-48 hours

All of this was done in the last 24-48 hours

Sooooo…. Nashville? It’s nearly 2000 miles from Oakland with nary a direct flight link them together since neither city has a major hub airport. Nevertheless, the River Cats-turned-Sounds will be playing in a fabulous, Populous-architected ballpark next year. First Tennessee Park will be at Sulphur Dell, the site of an old ballpark (also named Sulphur Dell) that dates back to 1870. Like Sacramento pre-River Cats, Nashville had a lengthy gap in 60′s with no pro baseball in town after Sulphur Dell closed in the 60′s. Herschel Greer Stadium opened in 1978. The Brewers came calling in 2005 and have been there ever since. The Brewers, Sounds management, and civic leaders have been trying to get a new ballpark in Nashville since 2007 (sounds familiar), finally putting together a deal that raised $65 million in public bonds while tying Sounds ownership to some $37 million in private development surrounding the ballpark. It’s a deal similar in structure to Petco Park, though there is some fuzziness on whether that private investment truly has to come in and when. Construction only started in earnest in March, making the development time very short, much like El Paso, Reno, and Sacramento.

Certainly the A’s front office was attracted by a brand new ballpark, as it would make for an easy transition for players who don’t make the big club. Sounds owner Frank Ward was probably salivating at the prospect of a winning, contending team playing in his new digs, as the Brewers-affiliated Sounds haven’t gone to the postseason in eight years, a cumulative .504 winning percentage since becoming a AAA city in 1985. Coincidentally, the Sounds finished with a 77-67 record this season, good for second in the American Southern division, but the team has generally been inconsistent.

FTP is bounded by 5th Avenue N, 3rd Avenue N, Jackson and Harrison Streets. While a 1,000-space parking garage will be built next to the ballpark, the site is only three-quarters of a mile from Printer’s Alley, Nashville’s well known downtown nightlife area. Numerous hotels are located downtown, with several more located along Music Row to the southwest. Catch some live music, maybe a Predators game at Bridgestone Arena, or take a tour of legendary Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry.

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After going over several different design options, it was decided that the ballpark would be oriented south-southeast. The northern edge would have an entry gate behind home plate, but otherwise there wouldn’t be the usual contour following the seating bowl that you usually see at most minor league parks. The idea is that ancillary development would occur to the east and south, between the park and downtown. If done correctly, a “ballpark village” of sorts may emerge, capturing visitors and locals who may park downtown and walk to the park. Again, there are shades of Petco Park in the site plan, although at a much smaller scale.

The full Sounds 2015 schedule is not yet available on the team’s website. When it is I’ll put together some sample ballpark trips you may consider. Next summer I’d like to do a AAA trip consisting of Nashville, Memphis, Indianapolis, Louisville, and perhaps Columbus again. The closest cities (within a 4 hour drive) are Atlanta, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, so putting together trips that involve MLB teams, especially the A’s, will be tough. If you’re planning a trip, you may find yourself flying through ATL, so that may work to your advantage.

As for the River Cats? I wish them luck. Their PDC with the Giants is only 2 years, a somewhat surprisingly short term considering the fan cultivation effort that is obviously the goal of the affiliation switch. They should do fine in 2015 thanks to a honeymoon period of sorts. The River Cats have a good promotional machine that should crank up into high gear with the Giants involved. If they can regain some of the attendance losses they’ve suffered the last few years, the change will have been worth it.

Selig’s Lamentations and the Law of Unintended Consequences

To hear outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig explain it, he was stuck in the middle. Powerless. The issue was forever “complicated.” He wished he could’ve resolved it. So when he rolled through Oakland on his farewell tour, there was no staged ceremony near home plate, no televised gift of a rocking chair made of bats. The only real exchange was a series of questions from local media, asking him if he could’ve done more get the A’s to a new ballpark. All he could say was that a ballpark was needed. Acknowledging that the so-called Blue Ribbon Commission/Panel/Tribunal was effectively shut down, the only thing missing was a hook to pull him off the podium.

Anyone’s thoughts on how the A’s (and Giants) should be treated are largely colored by three views:

  1. Oakland’s standing as a major league host city
  2. How much power the Commissioner has over teams and whether he should wield that power
  3. The sanctity of territorial rights and baseball’s antitrust exemption

There was never a question of whether the Coliseum is decrepit enough to be replaced; of course it is. There’s also little question of whether San Jose is large enough or wealthy enough to host a team if not encumbered by territorial rights; of course it is. The three items listed above, however, are up for serious debate. And despite the A’s 11th-hour lease extension last year and the hurried extension talks this year (done to give Selig something to hang his hat on as much as anything else), those questions will continue to dominate the discussion moving forward. All we get for the next few years as A’s fans get is a brief respite. Frankly, that’s rather welcome at this point.

Selig touted the 22 parks built during his tenure as head cheese. Virtually all of those parks have a single thread in common that Oakland can’t give at this point: public funding. The notable exception is San Francisco, where the Giants were somewhat ostracized for daring to privately finance their yard. The Lodge thought that baseball was on a slippery slope to No-Subsidies-Ville, with noted baseball town St. Louis playing hardball with its beloved Cardinals enough that the team financed $290 million for Busch on their own. They didn’t need to worry, as the extortion game succeeded in Miami and Minneapolis, even through the recession.

Oakland doesn’t have cash to offer. Despite their repeated shows of incompetence, Oakland’s pols are not crazy enough to offer cash straight up (I think). But they’re showing signs of being willing to offer up a big swath of Coliseum land, which in the long run is nearly as good as cash. If the City/County hadn’t gotten so legally entangled with the Raiders, Oakland would’ve been in the position to offer a Coliseum City-like deal to the A’s. Selig would’ve acknowledged the skin that Oakland was willing to wager, and I’d be watching the game in a new ballpark right now instead of an old one. That’s not to say it would’ve been a good deal for Oakland. It would still be a big-time subsidy. But it wouldn’t have been as disastrous as Mount Davis, that’s for sure.

Selig took the acting commissioner job in September 1992, as Bob Lurie was finalizing a deal to sell the Giants to the Vincents (Naimoli and Piazza). Still carrying the scar from losing the Braves to Atlanta, he purportedly held off the deal long enough (enduring a lawsuit in the process) to allow San Francisco interests to pull an ownership group together. After failing to save the 1994 season, he worked hard to avoid further work stoppages, though he sacrificed the Montreal Expos to do it. After he screwed over the original TB Giants owners, he settled with another group to get them an expansion team in 1998, helping to infuse baseball with cash after the Lodge took it on the chin with the owners’ collusion lawsuit. In the process, he bound the Rays to practically unbreakable lease at a domed stadium. Plus he forgot that San Jose and Santa Clara County, which were gifted to the old Giants ownership when they pursued a ballpark in the South Bay, remained granted territories to the Giants after the new SF-only ownership group took over. All of that happened while he was acting commissioner.

As the elected, properly sworn-in permanent commissioner, Selig orchestrated the Expos contraction-then-expansion ownership swap among three teams that netted baseball a handsome expansion fee and brought baseball back to DC. To satiate O’s owner Peter Angelos, he and his executive team cobbled together a deal that made the O’s majority owner of a new regional sports network, MASN, which owned broadcast rights to the Nationals. Apparently Selig didn’t see the TV rights bubble coming or the conflict such an arrangement might create. The Nats, whose initial term on MASN is now up, want in on that bubble while the O’s are unwilling to pay market rates. Naturally, the teams are in court. Selig, who gave Angelos MASN to get him to stop a lawsuit against MLB, now sees two teams stuck in trench warfare, arguing over hundreds of millions of dollars. To mollify the Nats, Selig is giving the team money from his eight-figures-per-year iscretionary fund. These days $25 million or so is small potatoes compared to the riches Ted Lerner sees going forward, so the struggle continues.

It’s with that perspective that Selig has found himself stuck trying to satisfy both the A’s and the Giants. There’s Selig the legacy-protector, who would prefer to keep the team in Oakland if they could just pull out their checkbook. There’s Selig the Lodge-unity-protector, afraid to take the territorial rights issue head on for fear of reprisal from one faction of owners or owner. Then there’s Selig the procrastinator, whose blind eye towards many baseball issues (PEDs, inner city youth development, growing economic disparity among teams) made this particular outcome entirely predictable. Some want to give Selig credit for MLB Advanced Media or growing TV revenues, when really he just stood aside and let his underlings innovate for him. I mean, really, Selig and MLBAM? The guy doesn’t even have email.

Complete conjecture on my part: I suspect there was a plan at some point in which the Nats-O’s TV issue was resolved permanently and the under-the-table payments could be rerouted to either the A’s or Giants as part of another temporary deal. If the A’s were granted San Jose, the Giants would be given a “refund” of their revenue sharing payment. If the Giants kept the territory, the A’s would get the piece of the discretionary fund as financial ballast as they built in Oakland (remember, per the CBA revenue sharing goes away if the A’s build anew in the Bay Area). Over time such payments would taper off as the teams adjusted. With such funds indefinitely in use for another conflict, there was no solution to be had. Another consequence of the Nats-O’s dispute is that any thought of creating a new Bay Area RSN with the Giants in control in a similar arrangement to the O’s now has to be considered verboten.

So yes, Selig is right to an extent. The problem is complicated. Still, all it would’ve taken is better foresight to manage this and all of the other problems. They are merely ways of moving money around a table, out of one pocket and into another. Some have argued for MLB to establish a stadium loan program like the NFL’s G-3/G-4. That’s not happening soon because the NFL’s TV dollars used to establish G-4 dwarf baseball’s national TV revenue $6 billion to $1.5 billion. The big market owners see the new TV contracts, in which each team receives $50 million per year, as enough in terms of support when coupled with revenue sharing and the luxury tax. That’s enough to give the sense of competitive balance that Selig likes to tout. Then again, we all know that’s an illusion.

Competitive balance means allowing the poor teams to play as if they don’t see the glass ceiling. That’s your Oakland Athletics, now and into the foreseeable future.

Rob Manfred elected next MLB commissioner by owners

After a full day of deliberation and several trays of cookies, MLB’s owners finally approved MLB executive Rob Manfred as baseball’s next commissioner (NY Times/USA Today/LA Times/MLB/ESPN Sweetspot. Throughout the day, there were frequent reports that the vote was deadlocked at 22-8 or 21-9, 1 or 2 votes shy of the three-quarters of owners needed to approve Manfred. A late afternoon break preceded the final vote, which in true Bud Selig fashion, was tabulated at 30-0. Perhaps the so-called Reinsdorf block saw the writing on the wall and gave in knowing Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner didn’t have a chance, or they knew that Manfred, who has worked in the league offices for 15 years, was the more qualified candidate. Either way, in February Manfred stands to inherit a full plate of for now unresolved issues from Selig, who is now officially a lame duck.

Who was the swing vote that got Selig’s man, Manfred, over the top? It appears to have been Brewers owner Mark Attanasio,

Among the issues that need resolution sometime in the future:

  • Nats-O’s (MASN) television rights negotiations/lawsuit
  • The future of the Tampa Bay Rays
  • Negotiating terms of an Oakland ballpark, if it can come to fruition
  • The next collective bargaining agreement (current one expires after 2016 season)
  • Blackout rules for local broadcasts

Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to go hardline against the players’ union, despite MLB having one of the most favorable, cost-controlled deals in sports. He considered Selig to be too conciliatory in his dealings with the union. It’s hard to say how much more Reinsdorf would’ve gained in the next labor talks, though the obvious goal would’ve been a salary cap of some sort. Reinsdorf was considered the power behind Selig’s throne, the senior whip who got the votes Selig needed. Here’s to hoping that sanity, not greed, wins out in the next labor talks.

During Selig’s tenure, he sought to consolidate power, getting rid of the league president roles and the deputy commissioner, opting instead for a more vertical org chart with subordinates’ autonomy reduced. One of the rumored challenges for the owners in the upcoming CBA/Constitution talks is how to curtail the powers of the commissioner’s office, which now includes disbursements of a discretionary fund that runs into eight figures (see Nats-O’s).

Going in, it was thought that the Larry Baer and the Giants supported Manfred, while Lew Wolff and the A’s supported Werner. Early voting seemed to bear this out. They even had some discussions early in the day.

The official approval of Manfred would appear to confirm the status quo going forward: Giants not budging on T-rights, A’s forced to make a deal in Oakland. The recently approved Coliseum lease extension further keeps the A’s in Oakland at least for the next several years. After that, well, who knows? MLB has seen enough of the stadium saga to know that neither city is a slam dunk, so contingency plans are needed. And it was Manfred who affirmed the threat to move “out of Oakland” last month, supposedly going so far as to mention San Jose in the same breath. So if anyone’s thinking that any city has an ally in the MLB commissioner moving forward, they shouldn’t. Manfred’s on baseball’s side, not yours.

What happened to the Stand for San Jose case?

I really should check into these court cases more than once every couple weeks.

While many eyes will be focused on the City of San Jose’s Ninth Circuit appeal against Major League Baseball this Tuesday, another case appears to have been resolved. That would be “citizen group” Stand for San Jose’s lawsuit against the City in Santa Clara County Superior Court. A hearing was scheduled for the end of this week, August 15. However, that was wiped away as the court vacated the hearing. In fact, the court now has the case status as disposed as of July 24. In other words, the case is resolved, over, done. Big hat-tip to Wendy Thurm, who alerted me to this on Friday.

The only recent action leading up to that point was notice that the Oversight Board of SARA (Successor Agency of the Redevelopment Agency) would file its own motion to dismiss by July 25. The idea was that since the Oversight Board was given the power to dispose of the Diridon ballpark parcels however it saw fit as long as it took care of financial obligations to the state. That was to lead for a motion for pleadings on August 15. Then suddenly, the dismissal on July 24. It’s important to note that it’s a dismissal without prejudice, so it could come back at some point. Regardless, it’s a surprising move for all concerned. I’ve asked around to understand what happened, and haven’t gotten any answers yet.

Besides the legal maneuvering, one other thing has happened this summer that might have brought all parties to the table. That would be the A’s and the Coliseum JPA approving an extension at the Coliseum through at least 2018 (up to 2024). Obviously that’s speculation, and the filings may reveal something else, which is why I’m heading to Superior Court tomorrow afternoon. Be forewarned: I don’t expect to get much out of my inquiry. When cases are resolved in a non-public manner as this was, the parties can sometimes choose to reveal little about the motivations to do so.

Then again, there’s this update which came in on Friday:

081414

Some day all this legal stuff will end and there will be a ballpark under construction. Maybe.

Female A’s fan knocked unconscious trying to break up fight after A’s-Giants game (Update: 1 suspect arrested)

Update 7/11 2:30 PM – The female victim, an Oakland resident, has been released from the hospital. The male victim had chipped teeth. 

Update 7/11 9:30 AM – SFPD is holding a news conference. KTVU is carrying it live. The suspect is 31-year old Francisco Lopez of Sacramento. He was arrested for aggravated assault and conspiracy. The second suspect remains at large. The truck they got away in is registered to the Sacramento area. The incident is described as random and had nothing to do with one team’s fans fighting another’s.

Thankfully, the victim is reportedly responding well to treatment this morning. 

Update 7/11 9:00 AMKPIX is reporting that a suspect has been arrested in Sacramento:

A suspect was arrested Thursday night in connection to the injury of a woman after a fight outside AT&T Park earlier during the day, police said.

Sacramento police took the suspect into custody at 11: 46 p.m. in the 1000 block of Glenrose Avenue after a pick-up request was placed by San Francisco police, Sacramento police spokeswoman Michele Gigante, said.

The suspect, who’s name has not released, was taken into custody without incident.

—-

What was supposed to be a generally joyous day for A’s fans as the green-and-gold heroes trounced the Giants yet again turned tragic as a fan was beaten outside AT&T Park on King Street following the game. The victim, whose name has not yet been released, was wearing an A’s hat. Details are limited, but apparently she was trying to break up a fight between two men when she was hit in the face. She was knocked unconscious.

KTVU has the best description of the incident so far:

At approximately 5:50 p.m., officers responded to the intersection of 2nd and King Streets after receiving reports of an aggravated assault.

In the incident, two male suspects, a black male age 30 to 35 and a Latino male of approximately the same age, got into a verbal altercation with the victims. One of the suspects then punched the male victim in the face.

The female victim then tried to break up the fight when one of the suspects punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious.

Both of the assailants then fled the scene.

According to CBS 5, the assailants took off in a gold Toyota Tundra truck.

The incident comes a day after Bryan Stow was awarded $18 million in his lawsuit against the Dodgers and the two men who severely beat him at Dodger Stadium. Another incident occurred after the final home game of the Giants’ 2013 season, when a Dodger fan was fatally stabbed. Media attention will be focused on the Giants and any measure they may (not) take in response to this incident.

Prayers and thoughts are with the victim, who is being treated at SF General. The suspects have not been identified. Besides the health and well being of the victim, the most important thing is to find these suspects and bring them to justice. If you witnessed this incident, please contact SFPD with any information you may have.

Incidents like these go beyond discussions about what teams’ fanbases are good or bad. It is only a game, one of 162. What makes this even more tragic is that the victim was trying to break up a fight. When I pointed this out on Twitter, several tweeps replied to me that they’ve been in the same situation and nearly didn’t get out of it. It’s very noble to try to play peacemaker, but unless you have specific training you may only be putting yourself in danger. Have fun out there. Be careful. Just because you’re a fanatic doesn’t mean you should lose your humanity. It’s just not worth it.

River Cats may change affiliation from A’s to Giants (Updated with River Cats statement)

Update 5/19 11:15 AM – The owners of the Fresno Grizzlies aren’t showing concern about the future of their affiliation with the Giants. They feel that the long history of Fresno being a Giants’ town, going back to the Cal League in the 40′s, will win out in the end. In addition, the Angels have renewed their PDC with the Salt Lake Bees through 2016.

Update 2:00 PM – The River Cats released a statement about their affiliation with the A’s.

“Though our player development contract with Oakland does expire after this year, we place the utmost value on our affiliation with the Athletics. This year, as in years past, we will perform an internal evaluation after the season has concluded. Our first priority has always been, and will continue to be, providing our fans with the best experience possible at Raley Field. This year is no different.”

That internal evaluation will probably include exchanging the more successful A’s-supplied rosters with the generally mediocre Giants-supplied Grizzlies rosters. While there would be a honeymoon effect, chances are it would be offset by fan response to bad play in the long term. Is it worth it? That’s for the Savage family to decide.

Art Savage and Lew Wolff were friends going back many years, when Savage was the CEO of the fledgling San Jose Sharks. Seeing an opportunity to the north, Savage decided to gamble on moving a AAA baseball club from Vancouver to Sacramento, where there hadn’t been any kind of pro baseball in decades.  There was much shock and sadness when Savage died in 2009, at 58. Since then, his wife Susan and his sons have taken the reins of the River Cats, which are effectively the family business.

Despite the River Cats’ constantly excellent attendance performance (1st or 2nd in the PCL annually), the River Cats may choose to drop the A’s affiliation and shack up with the Giants after the end of the 2014 season, according to the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. The River Cats-A’s Player Development Contract, which has been renewed with little rancor since the move from Vancouver, expires at the end of 2014. There is nothing stopping the River Cats from shopping around to hook up with a team that could provide maximum attendance and marketing opportunities, which in the NorCal market would clearly leave the Giants as the favorite, previous affiliations notwithstanding. 11 of the 16 Pacific Coast League clubs have their PDC’s ending this year, which will make the offseason a serious game of franchise musical chairs. A similar situation occurred in 2005 with few changes.

The simple fact of the matter is that attendance has dropped off from the 10k average crowds the Kitties experienced throughout much of their first decade at Raley Field, now at 8-9k per game. A trend of 10-15% drop off should be alarming for any club operator. If the move happens, it’ll be because Susan Savage felt that the best way to improve the bottom line was to work with the Giants. The orange and black fan base is extremely strong in Sacramento. Whether the team chose to keep the River Cats branding or switched to the Sacramento Giants, there would be more chances to leverage the Giants’ history and their greater ability (than the A’s) to keep stars. As Slusser noted, there’s also a chance for a more lucrative TV deal.

The Giants have every reason to pursue Sacramento if the Savage family is open to a new deal. Bringing Sacramento into the fold would further solidify the Giants’ hegemony in NorCal. It would provide a major obstacle to the A’s possibly moving to Sacramento, as the Giants could ask for unreasonable amounts of compensation if the A’s attempted such a move. The Giants would also have a better performing affiliate in a better market with a larger airport, a healthier financial outlook, and shorter driving distance for Giants farmhands.

Parent clubs pay for all player salaries and baseball operations, including coaches, for each of their affiliates. The minor league team’s responsibility is to cover marketing and ticket sales. Certainly the River Cats have been doing well, especially when compared to many of their PCL brethren. But there’s always the potential for more, so it would make sense for Susan Savage to at least take a cursory look. Sacramento is the belle of the PCL ball this offseason.

If the Giants got the River Cats and Sacramento market, that doesn’t mean that the A’s AAA affiliate could go to San Jose. While there’s no PDC for the San Jose Giants due to the team being owned by the SF Giants, there is a lease through 2018. Fresno would be the most natural alternative, although there’s a chance the Angels could also be interested as their PDC with Salt Lake City also ends this year.

One thing that could complicate matters would be if the Giants wanted to buy the River Cats from the Savage family. They already own the San Jose Giants, and they have the cash to buy any of their minor league affiliates outright if they chose to. If the Giants wanted to go that route and the Savages resisted, that would push them back into the A’s arms, since the A’s haven’t operated that way and probably won’t in the future. If the Savages wanted to cash out, there’d be no better time than this offseason. How chilling would that look? Giants surrounding the A’s on three sides: San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. The A’s would have Oakland, Stockton, and Fresno. Talk about haves and have-nots.

Former Giants owner Lurie to be inducted into BASHOF

Bob Lurie spent much of his tenure as San Francisco Giants owner being vilified. After saving the team from moving to Toronto with his purchase of the franchise from Horace Stoneham in 1976, Lurie lost money nearly every year since then, declaring as early as 1984 that he was ready to sell the team. Despite having more competitive teams in the late 80′s, Lurie could not build enough goodwill to pass stadium proposals in San Francisco (twice failed), Santa Clara County and San Jose (once each). So when the 1992 season came and went and the Giants were headed towards a 90-loss season, a deal struck in the summer to sell the team to Tampa Bay interests appeared to seal the team’s fate. The $115 million sale price, which had the blessing of MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent, only required a vote of National League owners to move the team. When those winter meetings came around, the sale was rejected by a 9-4 vote, allowing SF interests one last chance to put together a local ownership group and creating a legal mess for MLB to untangle many years later.

During that ordeal, Lurie famously got the blessing of A’s owner Walter Haas to pursue the South Bay, which was during the late 80′s undesignated territory for MLB. After Lurie twice struck out in the South Bay and Peter Magowan’s group purchased the Giants for a lesser sum of $100 million (including $10 million of Lurie’s own money), the incoming group had South Bay territorial rights grandfathered. For years, the Giants have changed their rationale for keeping the territory, starting with the claimed inability to cover debt service payments on AT&T Park. Now the reasoning has settled with “half of the fan base” coming from the South Bay, or the Peninsula, or something else that sounds good. Lurie had something to say about that as well:

“It is the Giants’ territory, and they’ll certainly protect it. We used to draw at least half our attendance from the Peninsula, and I know the Giants don’t want to lose that association. At the same time, the A’s definitely deserve a much better stadium.”

In Lurie’s advanced age, he’s deserved the right to voice whatever opinion he likes about this and many other subjects, whether he sounds strident or diplomatic. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that he singled out the Peninsula, not the South Bay, which may sound like distinct areas but in terms of mindset have a tendency to blur.

Historically, the definition of the Peninsula begins with the northern limit of San Mateo County (Daly City, Brisbane) south along 101 and 280, past the Palo Alto-Menlo Park border (county line) and down to Mountain View. For many the Valley (somewhat synonymous with the South Bay) begins at Sunnyvale and Cupertino and covers the rest of Santa Clara County. Of course, Silicon Valley has an even more amorphous definition, with some saying it extends up to Redwood City, San Bruno, or even San Francisco. All of this confusion only adds to the sense of provinciality that pervades much of the Bay Area.

Lurie’s quote provides little insight into the inner workings of baseball, except that there’s something to be said for what may happen to your own initiative if MLB decides to wait a while. Perhaps someone at the BASHOF induction ceremony can ask Corey Busch about that. Busch, you may remember, is part of the three-man “Blue Ribbon” panel figuring out what to do with the A’s.

P.S. – Speaking of opinions, Murray Chass has his own about Bud Selig and the mess the A’s are in. (Thanks Tony)