Purdy pleads with Selig

The Merc’s Mark Purdy, who happens to be the only Bay Area sports columnist truly in favor of a move to San Jose, just made Sunday’s paper a little more interesting. Purdy implores Bud Selig to wrap up the three-person commission (the term “blue ribbon” was coined by the media and not by MLB) and decide once and for all whether the A’s should be allowed to officially head to San Jose.

Before offering his solution, he gives the most up-to-date take on the panel’s work:

  • One day last month, the “Blue Ribbon Panel” met for two hours with Selig at his office in Milwaukee.
  • During the meeting, panel members discussed information they had gathered from East Bay figures and A’s executives over the past three months about why things had gone so sour in Oakland and Fremont. The Blue Ribbonites also offered analysis about whether any other possibilities existed for an A’s ballpark in Alameda or Contra Costa counties.
  • Selig has been digesting the information and contemplating his next step. But he has not yet asked the panel members to speak with anyone in San Jose. Selig also has not set a time frame for when he would like the Blue Ribbonites to file a written report on their findings.Selig has been digesting the for when he would like the Blue Ribbonites to file a written report on their findings.

Purdy’s getting a bit ahead of himself here. The commission’s only charge is to evaluate the East Bay situation. If Selig wanted them to open up discussions with San Jose, he’d have given them the green light immediately. This process, whether it’s legitimate or a dog-and-pony show, is designed to go through one excruciating step at a time. That goes for rules changes, economics, PED’s, you name it. Rare is the swift action or recourse, which is natural for a consensus builder like Selig. The only pressure to which Selig seems to bow is the congressional kind, and even that only goes so far.

The columnist also alleges some dirty pool in the matter:

My further concern: The longer Selig dithers, the more likely it is that the Giants’ misleading lobbying effort to trash San Jose will gain traction. Recently, Wolff received an e-mail from a fellow owner. This owner was unsure whether to support a possible A’s ballpark in San Jose because he questioned whether the team should “be able to move right next door” to the Giants.

Wolff quickly returned the owner’s message and set him straight about the geography: San Jose is definitely not “next door” to San Francisco. In fact, San Jose’s proposed downtown ballpark site is 48 miles from AT&T Park, where the Giants play. By comparison, Angel Stadium in Anaheim is 30 miles from Dodger Stadium.

Obviously, this mistaken owner had been caught in the spin control of Giants owner Bill Neukom, who has almost comically stated that San Jose is located “in the heart of Giants territory.” What a crock.

It’d be interesting to be a fly on the wall at the midseason owners meetings to hear these arguments get hashed out. I’m a bit skeptical as to the effectiveness of the Giants’ lobbying efforts. It shouldn’t take much effort to dispel any notions of Santa Clara County being next door to San Francisco. It’s a much more complicated sales pitch to convince the owners that changing T-rights is in their best interest.

For some reason, Purdy stops short of exposing the real issue here. Assuming that the commission rules against further exploration of the East Bay, the A’s future in the Bay Area comes down to two possibilities: San Jose or bust. As stated earlier in the week, San Jose and A’s ownership are already on the same page regarding this. If the panel rules out the East Bay due to economics and the South Bay due to rules, there really isn’t anywhere else left to build, is there? MLB won’t indefinitely lame duck the A’s in Oakland, they’ll use the panel’s judgment to justify a move out of state, as awful as that sounds. And with that, a certain “Montrealization” conspiracy theory set will have been proven right.

Then again, how realistic is that? San Jose has basically been given the rules of engagement since the Baseball San Jose group was put together. The relative inactivity in 2007-08 didn’t change this, and the City has continued its process in spite of the odds during that period. That’s not to say that San Jose deserves a shot more because of adherence to protocol. It’s just that it’s lot of work by several parties and at least one of them (you can guess who) has probably been keeping Selig abreast of everything. If Selig wanted it to stop, he would’ve given an unequivocal cease-and-desist to all involved years ago. In the end, what makes more sense: to leave a potentially lucrative opportunity open, or to use the opportunity as a ruse to vacate for a lesser opportunity elsewhere (a completely unnecessary move BTW)? Given the economic climate, the choice is quite obvious, no matter how conspiratorial your mindset is. Speaking of which, does one sound like a significantly greater conspiracy than the other?

All we know for certain is that the committee’s report should be out soon, along with the City’s dual EIR’s. A vote can’t happen until March at the earliest, next June at the latest. If there’s some serious urgency to make a decision, it’s not borne out of the schedule. The funny thing is that Purdy may get exactly what he’s proposing to Selig in short order. It won’t happen because certain SJ denizens are getting anxious.

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