Reinsdorf plays the heavy

Bulls/White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has a unique bit of experience under his belt: he’s overseen the construction of a publicly-financed stadium (New Comiskey Park/US Cellular Field) and a privately-financed arena (United Center). He once played the I’ll-move-the-team-to-Tampa card with the White Sox and turned it into the birth of the new era of ballparks. He also has a reputation as a shrewd negotiator and plain talker. So I suppose it was not all that surprising that, when Susan Slusser and John Shea caught up with Reinsdorf at the Winter Meetings this week, he had a few choice words about the A’s situation.

Major-league owners can vote to overturn territorial rights, and recent signs point to a potential vote on the issue at the owners’ January meetings. The A’s will have at least one prominent backer in White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a longtime friend of A’s owner Lew Wolff.

“I’m totally supportive of Lew getting a new ballpark and going to San Jose,” Reinsdorf said. “He needs to be there. It has to come to a head soon.

“Certainly, (the Coliseum is) past its time. In my opinion, Oakland’s past its time, too. Oakland’s had plenty of opportunity to build a stadium and hasn’t gotten it done.”

Within MLB, it’s been well known that Reinsdorf backs his buddy Lew Wolff, along with Commissioner Bud Selig. As a 30-year tenured owner and a member of MLB’s Executive Committee, he’s been known to have nearly as much sway as Selig. When it comes to rallying votes and gaining consensus, Selig and Reinsdorf should be able to pass just about anything, including a resolution to the A’s-Giants territorial rights battle. Will that actually happen? It sure looks that way, based on how Billy Beane’s practically gushing about it.

As for Reinsdorf’s quip about Oakland, that was just mean and unnecessary. Then again, this is the man who sided with Jerry Krause over Michael Jordan.

61 thoughts on “Reinsdorf plays the heavy

  1. beane was on mlb network and on chron live mon night. although the latter video isn’t up yet.

    think it’s telling that the tweet rumors over the past day or two is that sources from within even the division are thinking the a’s will be dealing gio and bailey this offseason and in a tweet by slusser she mentioned that beane is firm in wanting players younger than what he’s dealing. so he’s looking for probably 19-22 year olds who maybe are ready to come up to the bigs in a year or two and will have 3-4 years of control into the new cisco field in sj to go along with a core of weeks-choice-green-gray and others.

  2. :). Nothing more to say about this.

  3. Actually, I’ll just end it with this: as RS stated in the previous thread, I think you should write a book about this RM after all is said and done. A title? How about “Do You Know The Way?” Should become a Best Seller with movie forthcoming.

  4. Wolff, Selig and Reinsdorf: 3 rotten peas in a pod.

  5. re: Certainly, (the Coliseum is) past its time. In my opinion, Oakland’s past its time, too. Oakland’s had plenty of opportunity to build a stadium and hasn’t gotten it done.”

    …exactly. Not just hasn’t gotten it done, but has worked against the A’s, even (Mt Davis, fire city manager, etc).

  6. @pjk: firing the city manager. Man, you’re bringing back the memories. Robert Bobb v. Jerry Brown. On the one hand, if you’ve visited the Uptown neighborhood in Oakland lately, you know how successful Brown’s efforts turned out to be. Why Bobb was so obsessed with ballpark property there, near the freeway, I never understood. But that other land down by the Alameda estuary would be even better. The Dellums regime seems to have botched that (along with so much else). It’s pretty arrogant ot Reinsdorf to slam “Oakland” for failing when it really was a failure of leadership that couldn’t deal with the horrible turn in the economy.

  7. Oakland didn’t just fail to get it done. Oakland failed to get it started.

  8. Well “Oakland” in that instance refers to the leadership of the city more than anything else. But the residents of Oakland failed to an extent too undoubtedly in Reinsdorf’s eyes since they weren’t able to pony up any public funds (remember this is a guy who built his entire ballpark on 100% public funds).

    As for why Bobb was obsessed with Uptown I think you answered your own question. It was near the freeway and existing transit while also being in the heart of the city. The VC site is interesting but isn’t nearly as transit convenient since they’d have to build a whole new BART station, and isn’t in the heart of downtown like the Uptown site was. Uptown really was Oakland’s best shot to date.

  9. @suit,
    The economy was booming in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Why couldn’t Oakland get the ballpark done then?

  10. Reinsdorf may be right about the Coliseum, but he can still STFU. The Coli may be a dump, but it OUR dump.

    • The comment about Oakland: Mean and unnecessary?I dunno.They have had their chances ad showed not an ounce of leadership on this and, Oakland has a host of other problems.I think he’s right.The Oakland ship has sailed…. And sunk.

      Agreed and I’ve been going there since ’75. But, it is a dump and my team deserves a better home. I don’t want my dump anymore.

      Reinsdorf may be right about the Coliseum, but he can still STFU. The Coli may be a dump, but it OUR dump.

  11. So we can rehash all the reasons to blame everyone (be it Oakland, Steve Schott, Lew Wolff, etc) or we can just accept there is plenty of blame to go around and worry about what comes next. I’d prefer to hear about solutions, personally…

  12. Don’t mean to turn this into a hotstove thread, but I’ll be very disappointed if they trade Gio. I understand the reasoning behind it, but IMO trading him away would be a big mistake. Not only is he talented, but the guy has personality, which is more than you can say about Cahill and Andersen. He’s a fan favorite, much like Giambi and Tejada. Part of the plan going into San Jose should be to inprove the relationship between the team and its fans. Players like Gio and Braden would go a long way in making that happen.

  13. First Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg with this “hook and crook” statements about the A’s and now Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

    The signs are there the A’s will be coming to San Jose.

    Reinsdorf straight said “Oakland is past its time”…..Wow.

  14. The VC site is essentially as close to the Lake Merritt BART station and to 880 as the uptown site was to 19th St BART and 980. Add some Caltrain runs to Jack London Sq (or, even, to a new stop, right by the new park), in imitation of the trains running up and down the Peninsula on Giants game day, and you’ve got a plan. In fact, A’s fans could take Caltrain in from Sac and up from San Jose, Morgan Hill, etc. Give the park a good design, and the view would be fantastic, the weather too.

  15. I can deal with any trade as long as it’s a justified one. And if the A’s start building a stadium ANYWHERE, any trade is justified.

  16. It’s hard (impossible?) to argue that this franchise will survive without a new stadium. The City of Oakland and Wolff never allowed that to happen in OAK, whereas The City of San Jose and Wolff are clamoring for a park in SJ. Whichever side of the argument you’re on, you need to realize that Oakland was never going to happen, and wasn’t just because Wolff didn’t want it to – the City is even worse off financially and much less interested than San Jose. The other reality is that fair-weather fans can make or break a team. Sure, the A’s faithful will still make their way to SJ, but the bandwagoners that will hitch a ride in the South Bay (or even other Bay Area cities/counties who’ve forgotten about the team b/c of the Coliseum) will finally give this team a chance to sustain itself financially.

  17. Since Reinsddrf probably is writing a 7-figure check to subsidize the A’s operations in Oakland every year, I’d say he has every right to speak his mind on the issue.

  18. I think this is going to happen. with no practical option out of the bay area for the A”s to move and a highly unlikely option in Oakland, the A’s are not going to get contracted because MLBPA would never allow that to happen and SJ seems like the best option. However, this is going to get more litigious over time and its going to be a fight for sure, Giants are not going to stand by idly. Some financial agreement is going to have to get worked out. But agree with you @Marine Layer, Billy is definitely signaling that there is an end game, and the fact that the A’s are standing pat for now but open to listening about current stars means, its more rebuild mode, which means SJ.

    I plan to crack open some Tall Boys when the vote happens.

  19. The Giants simply can’t be allowed to litigate against established MLB policy. If MLB wants a ballpark in San Jose, the Giants as a member of MLB MUST get in line and support it. Trying to block it puts the Giants at odds with MLB and MLB would need to take serious sanctions against the Giants. Right now with the Giants’ lawsuit, we have a situation that would be akin to the McDonald’s in Sunnyvale suing to stop the McDonald’s in Santa Clara. Can’t have members on the same team suing each other.

  20. Look I think this is a stupid game by the Giants as much as anyone, but the Giants are going to do what they are going to do. They think they can have the market to themselves, well they are mistaken. Its the third biggest in the country after NYC and LA. These rights to Santa Clara County were given to them for free, if they didn’t use them it should be ours, but there is a process and its going to be gone through. In the interest of baseball, they will lose and the A’s will win, but its going to be a hard fight til the end. The end game is all that matters.

  21. Also look, I don’t blame Oakland officials for being skittish, since the Raiders fiasco, but I do blame them for sitting idly by and not even be amenable to really working with the A’s on something that was going to cost them much less than Raiders. My heart wants them to be in Oakland, but my head wants the A’s alive long term and competing. Im tired of having my favorite players disappear after 3 years, Im tired of losing, and Im tired of playing second fiddle to my favorite football team. It shouldn’t be either or. The A’s, and A’s fans deserve better. I have bitched a lot about Billy and some of his moves, but I think if we could get them in a better place, we can make moves to put A’s in better position for the future.

  22. There shouldn’t be ANY fight. MLB should tell the Giants cease and desist with any anti-A’s to San Jose campaigning and cease and desist filing lawsuits via surrogates or risk serious sanctions, such as MLB assuming control of the Giants franchise. The Giants should not be spending 1 penny to defeat any San Jose ballot measure once MLB gives thumbs-up to San Jose.

  23. The comment about Oakland: Mean and unnecessary? I dunno. They have had their chances ad showed not an ounce of leadership on this and, Oakland has a host of other problems. I think he’s right. The Oakland ship has sailed…. And sunk.

  24. @PJK, who knows, they very well could decide to stop fight, and that may happen, if Selig requires as a condition of SJ/A’s Marriage that A’s pay something to Giants. But my guess is something is going to get extracted from A’s. It happened in Balt/DC with Nationals, its likely to happen here. It pisses me off, but if that is the price of doing business and getting this done, then fine.

  25. Actually, pjk, it’s more like a Jack in the Box in San Jose suing to prevent a new McDonald’s in San Jose subsidized by the city government. Jack in the Box and McDonald’s legally cannot conspire to divide territory and promise not to sue each other. That’s the gist of your idea, and I think it violates antitrust law. No one in mlb wants to test the mlb A/T exemption in court, ever again.

  26. Jack in the Box and McDonalds are different companies. Not two franchises of the SAME company, like the Giants and A’s. Can’t have Team Member B suing to stop Team Member A since the whole suffers….

  27. Shocker. Reisndorf”s Wolff’s best friend in the ownership circle is supporting his effort. He always supported it and every owner in MLB has known this for years. You guys are grasping at straws to think this makes an ounce of difference. Reinsdorf is past his prime too.

    As for Loria. Interesting comments considering he ripped off the City of Miami and Dade County for hundreds of millions of dollars and now the SEC wants to know how and why, given his own balance sheet.

  28. Reinsdorf past his prime? I think I’m past mine, too. But Reinsdorf remains a powerful MLB ally for Wolff and he is probably sick and tired of subsidizing the A’s operations in Oakiand…We’re now a whole 15 days away from the first anniversary of Oakiand decision to perform an EIR on Victory Court and in that time Oakland has released nada, zip, nothing about the process….

  29. And we’re also just about at the 3 week mark when Mr. Insider Mark Purdy said the Giants would be meeting with Selig. How’s that progressing?

  30. Unless Selig has news reporters or TV cameras in the meeting, then we have to wait for the results. Everything is on schedule at this point. So how’s that VC EIR going? 50 weeks and nothing delivered at all? Huh? What’s that about? Seems to me if Oakland had positive conclusions they’d be shouting them from the housetops.

  31. @stanley stanson- Selig would never announce he was meeting the Giants for the simple reason he does not want media attention before the final verdict comes out.

    Reinsdorf like Sternberg in Tampa Bay have stated they are on the A’s side. That signals that the owners are with this as well.

    In the “lodge” guys like Reinsdorf hold a lot of power. I would not be surprised if Reinsdorf takes over as commissioner after Selig leaves next season…….He is one of the longest tenured owners and knows full well the A’s gave SCC to the Giants years ago. He was in the room along with Selig when it happened.

    In the end, Oakland had a great chance with the A’s. But the Oakland city council blew it with the Raiders years ago. It is too bad too, had the A’s built in Oakland when the Giants built at China Basin the competition would have been fantastic.

    Today, the Giants got to far of a head start. That metro area including Oakland is theirs.

  32. The San Jose Giants are involved in the lawsuit. The fact that the SF Giants own 55% of the SJ Giants is the complicating factor. But do you really think mlb would order a big-league franchise not to allow one of its minor league teams to litigate legitimate issues of public fisc and land-use? This is not simple stuff. Fascinating, though. Anyone curious about the mlb A/T exemption might find this article useful. It’s one of the most comprehensive overviews I’ve seen:

    Click to access 44-2_Grow.pdf

  33. “Today, the Giants got to far of a head start. That metro area including Oakland is theirs.” Stop with your ill informed, blowhard comments. When was the last time you even spent more than a couple of hours in Oakland?
    As for Reinsdorf, I think it’s pretty apparent, based on past behavior the guy is a scumbag.

  34. Legitimate issues of land use? Sure. This is about the Frisco Giants wanting to make massive amounts of money, plain and simple. SJ giants are tenants of the city of San Jose and property of the Frisco Giants. SJ Giants are suing their landlords.

  35. I get it that Reinsdorf is powerful. My point is that MLB owners have known for years that Reinsdorf supports the A’s move to SJ. Wolff has had him calling other owners for at least two years. The fact that he went public just means the A’s are more desperate to get a decision now.

  36. @Stanley Desperate, but maybe confident too.

  37. @SS- and what does the giants lawsuit against the city of SJ tell you- not sure it is the A’s that are desperate…

  38. @eb- How do you explain the Giants opening dugout stores in the East Bay all day? How do you explain all the people in San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek, Tri-valley area sporting Giants gear everywhere?

    When I say Oakland it is the metro area not the city itself. In fact only 19% of A’s fans come from Oakland itself…..tells you something very clear about the SF Metro area and their allegiances.

    Had Oakland built in 2000 or around there they would have had equal head to head match up with the Giants and they both would have been going after the same fans.

    The Giants getting such a head start put the A’s behind the 8-ball so to speak.

  39. Reinsdorf’s support certainly can’t hurt.

    One more piece to the puzzle.

  40. This from the introduction to that article I linked earlier:

    “Meanwhile, MLB’s restrictive territory allocation policies — a regular source of
    antitrust complaints against the league23 — were again at issue in
    December 2009 when the city attorney for San Francisco threatened to
    sue MLB after the league considered permitting the Oakland Athletics
    franchise to relocate to San Jose, territory assigned to the San
    Francisco Giants organization.24 Had any of these disputes resulted in
    litigation, the applicability of the baseball antitrust exemption would
    have been unclear under both the existing judicial precedent and
    scholarly analysis.”

    What’s going on here, I think, is a very sophisticated chess game with the A/T exemption operating as the queen on both sides. I was wondering how this would play out. Bill Neukom was Microsoft’s General Counsel during the years MS fought A/T battles all over the world. Bill Neukom was riding high in 2009-2010 when the SF club quietly bought 55% of the San Jose minor league club. The law firm representing the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit has rep’d the Giants for a long time (they did a lot of the legal work related to the new SF ballpark). That law firm also represented Std Oil Calif/Chevron and other corporations in hundreds of huge A/T lawsuits over the past century. The price of that little option to buy land may have sparked a fire that otherwise might not have erupted until Selig and his friends bulldozed a territorial rights change.

    In the long run, I think mlb will do a lot to avoid litigating the scope of the A/T exemption vs. SF or vs,l the Giants. So they’ll make a deal of some sort with the Giants.

  41. @suit,
    The lawsuit is FRIVOLOUS! Stop trying to make it something that it is not. Two completed, certified EIR’s (one for 45k ballpark, another for 36k) and an option to buy land that ISN’T subject to a public vote. Budget deficits have absolutely nothing to do with possibly selling land for a discount by the way.
    WOW! I have nothing more to add for your interesting (to say the least) posts on this thread.

  42. @xootsuit: You’re barking up the wrong tree. MLB’s sensitivity re: anti-trust is exactly why the Gnats are in a tough spot. The city of San Jose can sue the Gnats for blocking the move, which would challenge the A/T exemption. Obviously MLB would strip control from Gants ownership before it ever came to that.

    The Gnats have got NOTHING to work with, here. If Selig gives ’em something it’ll be just to make them stop crying, like buying a lollypop for a spoiled brat.

  43. @Al: mlb’s very right to divide and allocate territory among competitors is protected by the antitrust exemption, but so is mlb’s right to conspire with the A’s against the Giants (one view of the upcoming vote, especially with an idiot like Reinsdorf mouthing off about his bias). No one really wants to lose any of those A/T protections; litigation could destroy them all. Note I said I think the A/T exemption is the queen on each side of the chess board. I also said this isn’t simple stuff. In the long run, it may turn out that Bill Neukom’s departure from the Giants reduces the team’s litigiousness on this front. I don’t know. I’m watching and learning.

  44. Any litigation will not be by the Giants against the A’s or MLB (as we already saw with a Giants front group suing the City of San Jose). This is for the simple reason that the MLB Constitution bans teams from suing one another or the league and names the MLB Commissioner as the ultimate arbiter of any dispute.

  45. @Sid The very fact that you call the general East Bay “Oakland” kind of invalidates your credibility. As to Giant fans in the East Bay, this may come as a surprise, but their are Giants fans all over the Bay Area. There will still be a number of Giant fans in San Jose if that becomes “A’s territory.” Bottom line is a new stadium for the A’s in the Bay and winning will galvanize the franchise. Your repeated portrayal of the East Bay or “Oakland” as being lost forever to the “Giant hordes” is ridiculous.

  46. @suit,
    Idiot like Reinsdorf? No need to further engage with the obvious rookie (by the way, welcome to the blog).

  47. @TonyD: I didn’t respond to your comment about the “FRIVOLOUS” lawsuit for a reason.
    @Jeffrey: As I noted above, the SF City Attorney started talking about an A/T lawsuit in 2009. Plainly, the Giants have figured out how to get litigation going without suing the A’s. The question is how far will it go. The worst scenario would be a team against mlb, which I don’t see happening.

  48. Actually xoot, if it gets that far the Giants will cease to be an MLB franchise. MLB would strip them of their franchise for violations of the contract they signed when they bought the team which includes not suing the league.

  49. @xootsuit: you don’t understand antitrust law very well. It makes illegal “anti-competitive” practices (with certain exceptions).
    Dividing territories among competitors is a classic anti-competive behavior. MLB can do this (for now) only because of their antitrust exemption.
    “MLB’s right to conspire with the A’s against the Giants” (if such a right were to exist) has nothing to do with antitrust law. Any claim the Giants might have would be based on some combination of contract and tort law (breach of contract, reliance/estoppel, interference with business relation, etc.)

  50. In the hierarchy of dumbness or mental illness, “idiot” ranks at the dead bottom behind retarded, moron, low-moron, imbecile, and then “idiot.” Thus, it should be used with great care and thought in mind.

  51. @ Sid: Not sure I understand the comment but thanks. By desperate I mean they want a decision — one way or another. I don’t think that statement is that far off from reality.

    I agree w/ Jeffrey that we need not play the blame game over and over again why the A’s don’t have a new ballpark in Oakland. That said, since the current ownership has owned the team, it’s hard to blame Oakland officials for not getting a stadium deal done when the team has expressed it’s desire to leave. And please don’t tell me the A’s wanted to build north of the Coliseum parking lot at 66th. That was never a realistic plan. If you pro SJ guys are consistent, you’ll at least agree w/ me that the 66th to High St plan was more complicated than Victory Court. Way more landowners with higher land values (due to peak of the Real Estate market), additional of a Coliseum North BART stop and contingent upon a ballpark village.

  52. Stating the obvious….the “decision or verdict”, whatever it is, has already been made…..they (MLB decision makers) are not sitting there in NYC or Dallas, or wherever they might be, on Day 996 of the BRC, still waiting for more information, or waiting for something to happen, or waiting for someone to say something….all of the evidence is in, and the jury instructions have been read, and read, and read, and read some more……We are merely standing outside the courtroom, waiting for the foreperson to signal for the bailiff, to give him the verdict……..And anything said at this point can’t and won’t change the verdict….whatever it is.

  53. Yes we can continue to blame Oakland officials for the A’s not having a new ballpark. Their insistence that A’s owners pay for their own stadium with no public funding, when it’s not financially viable to do so in Oakland, has left the A’s owners in a stalemate with the city. Oakland officials’ attitude is – you build the ballpark – your problem if you lose your shirt doing it. .I won’t get into the history of Oakland’s mistakes with the A’s, which have been covered here 1,000 times before.

  54. @steve: you’ve completely misunderstood what I’ve written. Read the article I linked up. Then listen when other people talk about A/T.

  55. In the almost seven years we’ve been at this ballpark discussion, it always amazes me how an occasional newbie comes in here and talks as if they know what they’re talking about. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinion, even perhaps entitled to making up our own facts (no need to mention names). But guess what; this thing is FINALLY coming to a head, and OUR A’s will finally get their new yard in downtown SJ. No need to keep going round and round with some of you. I’ll let the facts on the ground (Wolff, Beane, Reinsdorf) speak for themselves. Until the next thread…

  56. @Tony D. – You’ve been here for nearly 7 years and you frequently don’t know what you’re talking about. Stop attacking the guy.

  57. My bad RM 😉 first round’s on me at the yard!

  58. No big deal. Same with the legal label post.

  59. @Stanley Stanson- I will say that the 66th project or Coliseum north from a land acquisition stand point was pretty bad from that point of view….This is true and I agree with you 100% that was worse than VC. More businesses to move.

    But transportation wise, that site is far superior than VC, that one I am sure you can see the logic on. But this was all after Uptown fell through and that was in reality the site the A’s needed.

    Uptown was perfect in so many ways. They could have done so much ancillary development where it would have looked like Petco Park in San Diego. The surrounding area around Petco is amazing and it used to be such a dump back in the 1990s. So many bars, restaurants, condos….I just wish Jerry Brown saw that logic years ago.

    Uptown would have been a place I would have gone to in Oakland driving up from San Jose to watch games….so sad and that rat bastard Jerry Brown is governor again!

  60. Damn that’s true, almost 7 years on this blog. Of course I’ve lurked for most of that time. Good job ML! Can’t wait for the book 😉

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