LA TImes baseball scribe Bill Shaikin has a fairly lengthy interview with one H.R. “Bud” Selig on the eve of the All Star Game. I say “fairly” because the Times has chosen to split the interview into ten (!) parts to hike up pageviews. In any case, Shaikin got Selig to comment a little on the SF-Oakland-San Jose love triangle on page 4. Here’s the excerpt with some interspersed commentary by yours truly.
Q: George Mitchell delivered the report you commissioned on baseball’s steroid era — 700 interviews, 115,000 pages of documents — in 21 months. It has been 16 months since you commissioned a report on the Oakland Athletics’ stadium situation, an issue that does not appear anywhere near as complex. The A’s still want to move to San Jose; the San Francisco Giants still say no. Why have you not been able to broker a deal between the A’s and the Giants?
A: …Now, as far as the San Francisco-Oakland thing: It’s complicated. I like both parties a great deal. We have territorial rules. I put a committee together that has the qualifications to understand. They’re still hard at work. They’ve still got things to do. This has a lot of ramifications to it.
Eventually, I will make a decision. What I want to say — because I’m generally very deliberate, as everybody knows — is that I didn’t want to have anybody say at the end, ‘Did you look at this? Did you look at that? What about X? What about Y?’
Selig is basically saying that he has all the cards here, so he doesn’t have to do anything right away. If San Jose is balking at putting a measure on the ballot without the decision, tough luck. Why should he put himself out and start making sausage with the owners when SJ hasn’t gotten everything done yet?
Q: Why is it not as simple as: The Giants claim their business will be severely damaged if the A’s move to San Jose, so you quantify how much their business is hurt and write them a check?
A: It isn’t that simple. You’ve got two parties involved here. There are a lot of questions that people raise about damage. It’s up to us to check everything out. There are a lot of questions the other clubs can ask — and I will ask — before we can make any move. I know that people want a decision. I understand that. But my job is to get it right. If it takes a little longer than people thought, so be it.
Ergo, “I really don’t want to open up this can of worms because of the effect on the NY teams. At least not until someone in the Bay Area has their act together.”
Q: The A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are the two teams still looking for a new ballpark. When the collective bargaining agreement expires next year, so does the moratorium on contraction. If the ballpark situations are not resolved, would you consider folding the A’s and Rays?
A: No, I wouldn’t. I think we have moved past that.
It’s too late to talk contraction until the after the next CBA begins.
We’re going into 16 years of labor peace. I regard that as maybe the prime reason for the growth of the sport.
Do you really think Selig wants two contracted teams as part of his legacy?
I love the new ballparks. I love revenue sharing. I love interleague play and the wild card. But I don’t think we understood how those labor confrontations were damaging us, whether it was 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990 or 1994.
There’s no need to fundamentally change the current CBA. The only people complaining are fans (and some owners) of small market teams. Everyone else (owners, players’ union) is reasonably happy.
There is no question that both of those teams need new ballparks. We’ll just have to work our way through it. Tampa has done a marvelous job running their team. [General Manager] Billy Beane has done a terrific job in Oakland. With the economics of baseball today, you’ve got to have a new stadium.
It’s hard to infer too much from this. I’ve always held that Selig will not retire until the Tampa Bay and Oakland situations are resolved one way or another. Since contraction is not happening, it has to be ballparks – somewhere. Once the Rangers’ situation is figured out, I expect Selig and DuPuy to spend a lot of time and resources on TB/OAK.
I’ll leave with one of the more revolting developments from Shaikin’s excellent interview:
I [Selig] was a Yankee fan when I was growing up here [Milwaukee].
Does he deserve a pass because Milwaukee didn’t have a major league franchise when he was a kid?