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.
You’ve made the case many times that Selig is one to wait out a process until a solution presents itself rather than lead the charge. Hmmmm.
I put Wolff’s chances of getting what he wants at 100%. Why? Because it makes too much sense for the overall financial health of MLB: two $uccesfull franchises in the Bay Area, separated by over 40 miles. Not one constantly in the shadow (like a homeless person sleeping under a bridge) of its uber-wealthy neighbor. If anything, the recent news regarding the Giants/Neukom has revealed that the organization is making money hand over fist; they’re @#$%^& rich!! They don’t need to hold San Jose hostage anymore and keep the A’s in perpetual welfare. I”m confident the right decision will be made (or more likely, revealed) in due time. Again, It’s all up to Selig and MLB.
By the way R.M., when will Purdy be rewarded with a Pulitzer for his outstanding reporting?
…liking ML’s thinking on this. Have the A’s deny Selig unanimity. What’s MLB done for the A’s lately? Absolutely nothing….
@Tony D. – No Pulitzer. Purdy’s name gracing the press box? Yep.
I like it! ;o)
M.L. On “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.” You mean just at this current time with the time frame of the Giants situation needing resolved not over the course of time correct?
Nice read on Maury Browns website on his take of the SJ, T-Rights situation. Maury’s a standup guy and all, but I think he’s wrong in expecting the Giants to exhtort the A’s over the South Bay (and MLB allowing for the exhtortion); i.e. a new regional sports network with the Giants in charge ala the Orioles/Nationals. It’s amazing when talk of the T-Rights surface, all these hypothetical scenarios pop up regarding what the Giants would/should get for Santa Clara County/SJ: control of a RSN, $200 million, paying off AT&T Park, etc. Considering it’s never been proven that the Giants “loosing” SCCo. would hurt them (even debunked by the SVLG poll of a few years back), it’s amazing that this crap still comes up. Again, how much did it cost the Giants to add SCCo. to their territory back in 1992…that’s right, $0!!
By the way, I second Mike’s question above: during the timeframe of the current ownership situation or the ballpark saga in its entirety?
I would love to know who was Purdy’s source on the story. Someone in the MLB office?
@Mike/Tony – By the beginning of next season.
Eh, don’t buy that needing more than just a passing vote will force Selig to do anything. Fact of the matter is Selig is feckless; Magowan abstained against moving his Brewers to the NL yet he’s kowtowed to their position ever since.
Wolff needs to be able to have a piece of land in Fremont where if he wanted to, and paid for it, he could build without needing the Giants approval.
Moneyball isn’t the team’s story. “Benign neglect” would be a more appropriate title.
Yes, “Benign Neglect” by the city and fans in Oakland – the city for doing less than nothing about the team’s facility needs, the fans for not showing up. A’s: playing in the in ALCS in ’06, ranking 26th in attendance. Currently ranked 30th (as in dead-last) in attendance.
@Genaro – Fremont is a lost cause. They had the money and the land, and it was killed by NIMBYism. I would eat that homeless guy’s hat if Fremont was ever a serious plan again.
@pjk – America is in a depression. Welfare to billionaires is off the table. Fisher can build five stadiums if he wanted to. Sell the team NOW!
…the usual “let the rich owner build the stadium.” Why? So he can go broke? Oakland keeps acting as if MLB is privileged to be there when really, it’s the other way around. If you were a billionaire, would you donate $500 mill of your own money on a money-losing stadium? Didn’t think so. If Oakland is such a great place for a privately funded stadium we’d see other potential ownership groups stepping forward eager to do the project. What do we have instead? Absolute silence. If/when Wolff/Fischer sell, it will be to people who want to move the team elsewhere because those are the only folks who will be interested. For reference, see: Oklahoma City group buys Sonics.
I often wonder how often the A’s situation is even spoken about in the MLB Front Offices. Is it just a sticky note on Selig’s monitor that says “That A’s thing” or are there people sitting down for a bi-weekly meeting on the BRC report or what? They must know that there is no love lost between the front offices, (and Beane’s trades this season sent the Giants a not-so-subtle message — go jump in the Bay), so the likelihood of anything happening organically is basically zero.
Someone has to have incentive to sit down (or disincentive not to sit down) for something to change. Wolff knows the Giants’ stance and the Giants know what we want. Perhaps ML is right and this is just the impetus each owner needs.
…Oakland had 15+ years to come up with something – a joint private/public project. Instead, it was, renege on baseball-only improvements to the Coliseum, ignore the North of the Coliseum project, wreck the stadium so the Raiders can have it, fire the city manager for devising a ballpark plan.
Keep it on topic, fellas.
Neukom is just one man in the grand scheme of things and there are such bigger issues involved that I doubt his departure give the A’s or anyone else any kind of loophole.
Selig sits around because he knows two things in a “nutshell”.
1. The Bay Area should not be two teams as MLB makes more $$ by moving the A’s away
2. The Giants T-rights to Silicon Valley in his own mind are “larger than life”
Neukom like Magowan before him simply is the head man of a larger group. If the larger group was dissenting on the Giants T-Rights to Silicon Valley then you would have seen Magowan and Neukom have different viewpoints. Even Larry Baer for that matter.
In the end MLB could do the right thing but it is obvious they will not.
Does Neukom leaving give a window to the A’s? I don’t think so. It is not enough leverage. If Giants were selling their team 100% to a new principle owner and dissolving the committee of investors then Selig could negotiate the selling price and re-do T-rights in one swoop.
With no money exchanging hands Selig’s influence on this will be minimal. Even if the A’s vote against and the vote is 29-1, it still shows some kind of unity.
MLB knows full well they need someone from the Giants sitting at the “Lodge” representing that franchise.
If ML is right, I am all for it, but I just do not see the whole T-rights situation anywhere near this.
To Marine Layer:
Your comment that the Giants being the holdout vote since that seems to imply everyone else in MLB is on board with this.
I know you mentioned that LW would never disclose anything to you but this seems to indicate you have information that the Giants are the ONLY team opposing an A’s move to San Jose.
Can you explain this?
@A’s obsever – Stop trying to spin everything I write. I’ve always been of the opinion that if push came to shove, the votes would line up. I have no inside information on this, only an opinion. Sheesh.
@ML – Can you post something about T-rights where we can easily access it? Is it 75% of the owners, or Selig’s “for the good of the game”, or both? I know it’s a complex issue and many of us have not got a handle on how that works. Also, the anti-trust exemption -is part of the scenario.
Have you talked to any of the Oakland people (Boxer), etc., since the Wolff interview series?
@David – Sure, I’ll put something out this weekend.
I feel like there is a typo here:
Last game: 13,132
2011 avg. (73 games): 14,743
2010 avg. (73 games): 18,489
Difference: +739 per game vs. 2010,
+747 per game vs. 2009
How is it +739 if attendance is nearly $4,000 less per game?
Also – I like the idea of a “no” vote or even the (Al Davis trademark) “abstain”. While it doesn’t actually hamper anything it sends a message and is symbolic. It could get the media talking, especially if some choice writers were tipped off ahead of time.
@Vivek–Looks like a major typo.
From Baseball-Reference, through last night’s game:
2011 avg (75 games): 18,141
2010 avg (75 games): 17,675
+466 per game vs. 2010
We’re in last place again. With this ownership, the downward spiral continues, ranking 26th, 26th, 27th, 30th, 29th, 30th in attendance the years they’ve owned the team.
Another cut-n-paste error. Fixed. I really should write a script to automate it.
…What would have the ownership do? Maybe they should have tried to sign Lance Berkman? Or gone after Adrian Beltre” Maybe they should have some neat giveaways, like bobbleheads, t shirts, jerseys? How about $2 ticket Wednesdays? Free parking Tuesdays? Free hot dog Thursdays? Why don’t they – oh wait. They’re already doing all that and folks in the East Bay don’t come anyway. Nevermind. Yes, it must be those mean owners at fault for the A’s having the worst attendance. The next ownership group will do better – of course it will probably be in San Antonio…
OT–Hey guys, did you hear the latest? Starting next year they’ll be assigning bleacher seats for the first time ever. Some very pissed off fans on Chris Townsend’s FB page. One fan talked to an A’s ticket agent and was told there was some complaints from season tix holders for the premium games, families being split up, people losing their seats when they get up and go to the bathroom, etc…
This sucks. I’ve enjoyed many games in the old bleachers and some games in the new ones (I’m a Plaza Infield fan), and have met new friends there and try sit next to them when I see them. Just get there early to pick your spot, and put your stuff on your seat and you should be fine when getting up to do our business.
…the A’s don’t really have any bleachers since the city and county reneged on a agreement to do baseball-only improvements and instead replaced the bleachers with football stands. Pretend-bleachers in a football stadium.
I could be wrong (I’ve been wrong often before) but this is the only time I’ve ever heard where the consumer is continually blamed for the downward spiral of an organization. In any other business when business suffers those in charge are held accountable. I guess the customer is always wrong in the A’s situation.
With the amount of obstructed views out there between railings and the orientation to the field, trying to figure out which seats are going to be good and which ones aren’t ahead of time is going to be a major hassle. Can this ownership do anything that’s the least bit popular?
True, but they were always general admission until next year. What more can this ownership do to piss off more fans? There may be signs and a petition protesting this and some e-mails to the FO.
re: Can this ownership do anything that’s the least bit popular?
…well, the first 10,000 fans will be rushing to the balllpark Sunday to get a free t shirt. Just like the first 15,000 that got the Suzuki jerseys a month ago. But other moves – such as free parking on Tuesday (a $17 value) – don’t seem all that popular. Go figure.
re: In any other business when business suffers those in charge are held accountable.
…the person not being held accountable is Bud Selig, who has had an A’s solution (a proposed new ballpark just 35 minutes away in San Jose) in front of him for years but is too terrified to act so he does nothing. A chief executive in a real business, one without anti-trust protections and without a monopoly, would have been booted out years ago for such indecisiveness. Lew Wolff, recognizing that there are no public dollars available for stadiums in the Bay Area, has put together a workable, profitable plan for a privately financed ballpark but Selig is too afraid to act. So the situation lingers and lingers.
@pjk–like I’ve said 100 times before, the one foot out the door thing hasn’t helped attendance the last 6 years. The wrong CEO is being ousted.
@pjk – LW wants to move and has made that quite clear for a long time. Fans don’t show up. The product sucks. No money. The cycle continues. Fans and the area get blamed for the woes. He wants to move, fine. Why not make the best of what you have now? There was a great article this morning about the Neukom thing and an overwhelming majority of the responses discussed their fears of that organization turning their motives into a profit center more than winning on the field. I am all for profit. I work in a business where profit is priority #1. However, correct me if I’m wrong but an investment in a ballclub would typically focus on long-term growth, i.e. future franchise value. When folks on here ask why money hasn’t been put into the existing organization now many SJ folks reply with “why would they want to lose money?” This just makes no sense to me. If I’m an owner I’m looking to cash out in the long-term with hopefully a nice gain in franchise value. Of course we need to pay bills today but if investment dollars today means future growth then what is the problem? That is not charity to me. That is smart investing. Hey, maybe I’m wrong.
A’s won the division in 2006 and went to the ALCS and fans didn’t show up then, either. Once again, Wolff has tried to spend $$ on players but it’s difficult when free agents don’t want to play in an empty football stadium and have no-trade-to-Oakland clauses in their contracts. The A’s need a state-of-the-art ballpark and, if it’s to be in the Bay Area, it has to be privately built. San Jose has the economic muscle to enable this to happen. Oakland and the East Bay do not, like it or not. So what do we have? Under MLB;s rules, the A’s are confined to the East Bay if they want to stay in the Bay Area. I wish Oakland could support a privately built ballpark – it would make all of our lives easier – but nobody seems to know how to get it done. 915 days of no report from Bud Selig’s committee tells us that. .
I don’t think Bud Selig is too afraid to act. I think his last preference is the A’s in SJ. I think he likes the following options, in this order:
1. Status quo – it’s great for the Giants, because they basically have a de facto corner on the Bay Area market, with the A’s so badly crippled that they bascially function as a AAAA (between AAA and MLB) team that is a feeder for other actual MLB teams (getting AAA players ready to move to real MLB teams). As it is now, the Giants have no real competition in the Bay Area market, other than a handful of A’s diehards, and the occasional casual fan that will come out on Fireworks nights, or Sunday matinees that have good giveaways. Really, the Giants lie their asses off when they say they’ll lose Santa Clara county corporate support and fans. What they really fear is having actual, viable competition. They know the A’s in SJ with a new stadium would present some real competition. They’ll do anything to stop it. Same with Selig. He likes the current status quo. He’s only pissing off an ever shrinking A’s fan base. Nobody else cares.
2. Reloc out of Bay Area – San Antonio, Portland, Charlotte. Only things stopping this are the lack of ownership groups in those cities, and lack of any viable MLB facility, either currently or on the horizon. And those cities, like most US cities, are hugely in the red, so any new ballpark would have to be mostly privately financed. So $400 mil to buy the A’s, then another $450+ mil to build a new stadium.
3. Contraction. Bud Selig would love to contract the A’s and Rays. The only thing stopping it is the huge cost (shell out valuation of franchise to current owners), and ensuing lawsuits from the players union.
re: They know the A’s in SJ with a new stadium would present some real competition. They’ll do anything to stop it. Same with Selig. He likes the current status quo. He’s only pissing off an ever shrinking A’s fan base. Nobody else cares.
…I agree with the above comments. Want to know how much the Giants are terrified of the A’s in San Jose? Just east of the Diridon site we have – an SF Giants billboard. Just west of the Diridon site we have – an SF Giants billboard. You can spot the property location by looking between the Giants billboards. And yes, I often wonder if MLB views upsetting the diehard A’s fans as just unfortunate-but-minimal collateral damage in any relocation of the franchise out of the Bay Area.
Nice post Columbo.
Being that most owners are already multi-millionaires, I thought owning a sports franchise was for the love of the game, not just to fatten their already fat wallets. If it’s strictly to make a profit and not wanting to really compete, maybe they should cash out now while the franchise value is high. I still say putting a few bucks into the facility would be a good PR move on LW’s part, but he’s not known for good PR moves. I’m wondering if LW and JF will be at the Moneyball Premiere on Monday? BB and many current and former players are going I read. Should be a packed house at the Paramount (no tarped balcony, please), and will raise about a million bucks for Children’s Hospital and Stand Up for Cancer, which is awesome.
What would be a good PR move? Wolff and Fischer donating a $500 mill ballpark to Oakland regardless of whether they make their money back or not? Is not going to happen. Nobody would do that.
@jk-usa- You miss the points pjk is making about all the promotions, giveaways, fireworks nights, even cheap food and beer to get fans.
What has it resulted in? Dead last attendance.
Jeffrey did the math and the A’s even when good do not get fans regardless if the owners have one foot out the door or not….It makes zero difference. The East Bay is not a viable market and it never has been and never will be.
Do not expect Wolff to put $$ for the Coliseum. The city and county wrecked it years ago, they should pay for it or call Al Davis…Plus no tenant pays for upgrades or repairs. That is the landlords job.
Do not mention Haas and those teams……not valid arguments as he was “too nice”.
Oakland screwed the A’s years ago. You say the Big O needs a “break”…Well guess what? It is the A’s who in fact need the “break” with the Giants 12 miles away dominating the A’s market with their beautiful stadium.
The Giants despite what T-rights say own the East Bay. I worked in the Tri-Valley area and in the San Ramon area the last few years. You see more Giants stuff than A’s gear wherever you go. Those fans have a “choice” in the East Bay since SF and Oak are so close.
Therefore all the rich people in the East Bay take their families to the Giants games not the A’s. This is the fundamental reason why the A’s are dead last in attendance and have struggles attendance wise vs. the Giants since 2000 when Pac Bell opened.
Even before 2000 the A’s struggled at the gate, only difference was the Giants were suffering to at Candlestick so the problem did not seem so glaring.
Meanwhile you have a big population center in the South Bay that does not have a choice. It is not practical to drive to SF or Oak consistently for games. The A’s would get packed crowds all day in San Jose.
The South Bay is all corporations and rich families in sprawling suburbs. There is little crime and it is the richest metro area in the county. SF-Oak-Fremont is 2nd in the country in this regard but the Giants dominate it.
San Jose has people with $$, corporations, and a low crime rate. No brainer….Too bad Selig has no brains and no heart to do the right thing.
@Jeff-Athletic- I agree with you San Jose is the last option for Selig because of T-rights. Selig needs to go and any other man with “heart and balls” would have done something by now. Selig has neither and never will.
San Jose- Sunnyvale- Santa Clara is the richest metro area in the country not county…My apologies
re: The Giants despite what T-rights say own the East Bay. I worked in the Tri-Valley area and in the San Ramon area the last few years. You see more Giants stuff than A’s gear wherever you go.
…Went to Burger King in San Ramon a few weeks ago (A’s “territory”). Next to us? A group of people in their Giants gear.
“The East Bay is not a viable market and it never has been and never will be.” Stuff like this is what makes coming to this site and participating a real chore. The constant pissing matches between East Bay and South Bay “A’s Fans” is the equivalent Sisyphus’ torment. All I can say is thank you Sid, for coming to the East Bay, a dead and dying land, for all of those years to support our A’s. Right charitable of you.
@Sid – I was in high school during the bash-brothers era and that place was consistently filled up. I remember leaving school early many times with a bunch of guys to catch an afternoon game and the stadium was filled. You say Haas was “too nice” and we shouldn’t count that in the conversation. I don’t agree with that at all. That’s just too convenient. Who knows what would have occurred had 1) he lived, 2) the ’94 strike hadn’t occurred, and 3) the Raiders stayed in LA. I remember that, in those days, being an A’s fan was chic. Literally, people wore A’s stuff everywhere and there were billboards, etc. all over. The Giants were the pugs of the area during that time, especially after being swept in ’89. Those were good times; the best of times that I can recall. If you don’t want to count something in the attentance conversation may I suggest the Finley era (despite the WS wins). I have said this before that the bay area should never have had 2 major league teams period during that time. There was no population to support them in any regard at that time. Just look at both the G’s and A’s attendance figures during the 70’s, add them together, and you would have a decent turnout for 1 team.
Bash Bros. – before the Coliseum was ruined and when the Giants still played in awful Candlestick. Not comparable to today’s situation at all.
I seem to recall in 2000 the G’s got a spanking brand new park built. If ever there was a game-changer in terms of the casual fan, gee, I suppose that might have made a big difference. The atmosphere changed for the better for the team across the bay at that very moment. Hence, those Giants fans in San Ramon were most likely A’s fans back in the day, depending on their ages. For those born after my generation, i.e. those who didn’t witness the A’s dominance do not have anything to compare but AT&T Park. Naturally, you take a 15-year old kid from the east bay and he is comparing a 1992 Hyundai with a 2011 Mercedes-Benz as far as he’s concerned.
…Yes, the A’s need a new ballpark and it has to be privately built. This is doable in San Jose but apparently not in Oakland, which lacks the corporate base to support such an endeavor and is too close to the existing ATT Park. Also, San Jose has most of its site acquired while Oakland is doing nothing but stalling and stalling on a preliminary EIR for a site that requires relocating 16 businesses and lots of infrastructure improvements, thus adding dramatically to the costs.
@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.
@ 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.
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.
@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.