Another week, another media morsel. If it’s not the Giants leaking information out or Larry Baer defending the Giants’ territorial rights claims, it’s a national sports writer pleading Lew Wolff’s case or Lew himself answering questions. To me, it feels more like slow-motion tennis than baseball, and while I like tennis, this has gotten repetitive and tiresome.
This time it’s Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal again with a plan to resolve the A’s-Giants impasse. Rosenthal thinks that the Giants should be guaranteed a minimum revenue amount against potential losses incurred from an A’s-to-San Jose move. He cites the O’s-Nats deal as an example. However, while Peter Angelos got a $360 million sale price guarantee and $75 million to start up MASN, I don’t believe that he got an annual revenue guarantee ($130 million) as Rosenthal suggests. There’s a good deal of conflicting information on this. It’s sort of a moot point because the O’s cleared the supposed minimum in the first year of the agreement, 2005, and haven’t looked back. Forbes’ estimated revenue for 2011 was $179 million.
Guaranteeing revenue for the Giants is a different matter. According to Forbes, the Giants haven’t been below the $200 million revenue mark in three years. Last year the Giants were in the top ten at $230 million, whereas the average revenue was $211 million (median: $201 million). I have to think that MLB, in its desperation to get some kind of deal done, has floated a revenue guarantee number to the Giants, to which Baer has balked. I’ve argued frequently for some kind of compensation plan that includes revenue, but a revenue guarantee of $230 million gives me pause, so I imagine it gives Bud Selig and the other owners pause as well. Then again, Wolff is projecting a bump from $150-160 million to $230 million for the A’s, so for baseball the result should be a net positive.
Rosenthal also talked to Tulane law professor Gabe Feldman about the prospects of an offensive antitrust lawsuit against baseball. Feldman characterized such a suit’s chances as very slim, a “real longshot”. Also ready with a quote was San Jose City Councilman and future mayoral hopeful Sam Liccardo, who may see all of this baseball posturing end up as part of his election platform if the saga continues at its current pace.
The sucker punch is saved for the end:
Only a few hardy souls — a latter-day version of the flat-earth society — believe the Athletics still can make it in Oakland. San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area. A new ballpark in the city not only would transform the Athletics’ business model, but baseball’s as well.
There will be some Oakland defenders who say things like, “If you tell a lie long enough people believe it”. No, that’s not it. Sometimes a spade is a spade. If it wasn’t the case, Oakland wouldn’t be pinning its urban revival hopes on a pie-in-the-sky plan like Coliseum City. If it wasn’t truthful, Signature wouldn’t be trying to offload O29 on any Tom, Dick, or Harry who might be interested in land. It’s telling that one of the chief pro-Oakland arguments is that baseball doesn’t have the wherewithal to change T-rights on Wolff’s behalf. That’s all well and good, but how is that confidence-inspiring for Oakland?