Lather, Rinse, Repeat

We’ve heard this one before. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was on The Chris Townsend Show with guest host Brodie Brazil on Monday night. He indicated that something will happen in August, when the next owner’s meetings are slated to be held in Denver. Nightengale claims that if a vote isn’t held (Wolff has asked for one as a procedural matter), Bud Selig will rule on the matter. Nightengale noted that he has been wrong about this before (as have I), and at this point – 40 months into the debate – there’s little evidence to indicate that this will be resolved in short order.

The big admission of this apparent deadlock is that when asked about the situation during a press conference prior to the All Star Game, Selig replied that both teams still have numerous questions to answer. Seriously? At 40 months? Surely, the commissioner and his exploratory committee have had ample time to look at every option, look under every rock, comb every bit of the Bay Area landscape. Admittedly, there are plenty of questions for the contingent cities as to how they’ll complete the deals that will be necessary to host a new ballpark. Those issues aren’t under the Giants’ and A’s control, and they can’t see proper resolution until a decision on how to progress is made. Whichever way it goes, one team (and some city) is going to be upset. The longer this gets delayed, the more expensive the eventual solution becomes – whether it’s in Oakland, San Jose, or elsewhere.

Then again, why bother? It’s not as if the A’s matter to baseball. Inertia, thy name is Selig.

63 thoughts on “Lather, Rinse, Repeat

  1. Sure Bob… sure.
    The owners are going to claim they’re too busy voting on the Padres new ownership to worry about the A’s.

  2. What surprised me more was that there was no mention of anyone in the media asking him the followup question – what is there left to answer?

  3. Selig wimps out by deferring to the Giants and A’s to hammer out a solution. The Giants have no incentive to solve anything since the current situation suits them fine. So nothing gets resolved. And Selig, who runs a monopoly, can’t be bothered with making a tough, controversial decision since he is not under any pressure to do so. What would be great would be for the A’s to make the playoffs, so MLB can “showcase” the Coliseum on national TV in the post-season, Raiders logo behind second base, yard line markers and all. Take the whole discussion nationwide about why the A’s are still playing in a football stadium when every other team has a new yard.

  4. @LoneStranger I agree, I see John Shea’s tweet and I was like, so someone, ask him what the damn questions are left.

  5. We should have a thread dedicated to things that can be accomplished in 40 months….anyone want to start? :p

  6. In August NASA’s Curiosity rover will be landing on Mars. It left Earth in November of last year. If NASA can send a robot to another planet 40+ million miles away in 9 months, then surely Bud can decide if the A’s can move 40 miles away in 40 months.

  7. Actually it’s only 36 miles. He’s already taken more than a month for each mile they’d be moving.

  8. @ A’s Fan – Good one! lol

  9. When ar ethe owners meetings? What date in August? Thx.

  10. “We should have a thread dedicated to things that can be accomplished in 40 months . . .”

    A Guns ‘n’ Roses album?

  11. About the only thing I know that couldn’t be finished in 40 months was “Duke Nukem Forever.” Though our whole stadium search has taken longer than even that game took to come out.

  12. He seems to think/guess that BS favors the A’s. Why ? Just wondering where/how he got that info or someone from MLB or even BS himself told him off the record ?

  13. Daniel writes: “He seems to think/guess that BS favors the A’s. Why ? Just wondering where/how he got that info or someone from MLB or even BS himself told him off the record ?”

    What I took from the interview; someone who was giving his gut feeling/opinion. I agree it would have been nice to hear he had sources…..something on the order of “the MLB insiders I speak with say X”. Without any indication of this, it is reasonable to conclude he did not have any and this was BN’s opinion. And regarding the content of the opinion, half of what he was saying was merely stating what is obvious to most; it is hard to see why the A’s will not be given the green light. However, the other half of his opinion (a decision is coming August) appears to be without compelling logic to back it up. After this LONG, what makes August suddenly have urgency to resolve it? His reasoning behind this seems to be LW is urging a vote. But will LW force a vote? LW has shown himself to be a good member of the Lodge. If BS says to LW, “no vote right now”, does anyone believe LW will circumvent BS? IMHO that’s just not going to happen (if it was, wouldn’t LW have already done this?).
    To the last point of BN (BS putting his foot down); to me the only reason why BS calls off the negotiations between the A’s and Giants, puts his foot down and outright decides the issue (or arranges a vote) is because BS sees the negotiations have become blatantly useless (keyword blatantly). Given BN mentioned no generic insider sources, I doubt the “an August decision is coming” opinion is based on knowing BS is close to giving up on negotiations.

  14. Rereading the big Lew Wolff interview from last year, Lew said that several owners have spoken to him and offered to lobby Selig on his behalf. He turned down the offer saying that shouldn’t be the way the process works. At this point I hope other owners just speak up on their own. Yes, the A’s are at the bottom of the totem pole as far as MLB concerns go, but it’s not as if Lew doesn’t have any allies. This is a big enough issue that other owners will want to put it to bed as well. I hope they start to speak up.

  15. Burton, do you have any idea where the link to that LW interview is? I searched and couldn’t find it. I missed that one and would like to hear and/or read it.
    As far as what you mentioned, it further backs up what I suspect — an August decision because LW will force a vote is unlikely (unless, as you suggest, other owners help push it). It is another indication that LW is not going to go around BS/ remain a good member of the circle.

  16. Everyone seems to assume it because Wolff and Selig are old friends. The longer this takes the more skeptical I am that their friendship exists or even matters to the conversation. Because not even the worst human being would screw one of his friends this long.

  17. I was thinking about this last night, you know what we need in the A’s outfield. One of those big signs the SOS people have loved so much, only this one should simply have the number 1222 on it. And every night the number should increase by 1 (or the appropriate amount after they return from road series/off seasons).

  18. If LW forces a vote, it will be because he wants finality. Not because he thinks the vote will go his way. Forcing a vote simply takes SJ off the table and lets everyone move forward.

  19. …A failing vote takes SJ off the sidelines and into the courthouse, with a challenge to MLB’s anti-trust exemption most likely funded by San Jose’s business community, which has the deep pockets and the incentive. Let’s hear MLB argue before the 9th circuit federal court that it is not really a business (the reason it has an exemption) and deserves this exemption that no one else gets. Selig’s nightmare come true…

  20. Don’t know about that. The 9th Circuit is overturned most of the time. So losing there would probably be to Selig’s benefit. Where he should be concerned is if he wins in the 9th circuit…

  21. pjk — that’s not accurate. City of San Jose, the public entity, will have a hard time making a case that implicates the A/T exemption. I’ve posted about that legal issue on this blog too much already. Believe me, I’ve researched it, and continue to do so.
    Also, the original exemption decision, by Justice Holmes in 1922, which held that baseball in those days was not engaged in trade or commmerce, or in interstate commerce, was a weird creature of its time. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the A/T exemption in the 1950s in a way that wiped out the original rationale and replaced it with a new one. The real question since those 50s decisions has been the scope, not the existence, of the exemption. Courts continue to rule contradictorily today.
    Selig’s “nightmare” is not a sure thing. On the other hand, I agree with you to this extent: I do believe mlb really is afraid of any lawsuit that does implicate the A/T exemption.

  22. LW hired some big attorneys not too long ago—with one of them saying he looked forward to watching a game at Cisco Field in downtown SJ–anyone have any update on what these guys have been involved in? I dont recall if their focus was on development aspects of the stadium or the TR issue or both–

  23. @ XS – you didn’t answer my inquiry when I previously stated that SJ doesn’t have to sue as Cisco probably certainly can/would. It impacts their contract with the A’s (Cisco field and all ancillary arrangements) and is prohibitively anti-competitive. I am curious, putting aside your allegiance to the Gnats, what is your legal take on if MLB deserves exclusivity to the ATE when the NFL, NBA, NHL…well basically all professional sports don’t?

  24. @ Go A’s – I believe LW hired the hot shot attorney to help SJ defend the land option lawsuit that the Gnats filed against the city.

  25. Selig is going to open up San Jose. Why wait for 40 months to simply shoot it down what he has in the past 3-4 times reaffirmed the Giants rights to San Jose.

    In Selig’s mind he felt Schott did not try in their territory at all and when he brought in Lew Wolff to buy the team. Wolff was already of Schott’s payroll trying to find a site but Selig felt this way the team would stay and he felt if anyone could a stadium done in the East Bay it was real estate genius “Lewie”, hence why Selig pushed for Wolff to take over once Schott gave up.

    Turns out Selig’s worst nightmare came true when Wolff failed in Fremont and paid 24M out of his pocket that proved it. Schott was in fact correct years ago stating there was no hope in Oakland nor the East Bay.

    Wolff got creative with Fremont trying to pull Silicon Valley dollars from over the county line with Cisco and others. Fremont is no longer a reality because of big box retailers, the recession, and NIMBY’s.

    Plus the fact Selig sent a letter on if the A’s failed in Fremont they would be given permission to look outside their territory and we all can infer indirectly he meant San Jose.

    Whether it happens in August or 3 years from now, San Jose will occur for the A’s. It is a matter of survival and if Selig could do this any other way even moving the A’s to San Antonio with a free ballpark waiting he would rather than do what he has to do now.

    Selig has no choice but to open up San Jose and he is delaying the inevitable in hopes of a solution that benefits everyone but 40 months proves that solution does not exist.

    Someone is going to be mad here and my bet is the Giants as I am willing to bet the farm the other owners are on the A’s side, another reason why Selig has not shot this down already.

    San Jose A’s….2016? 2017?

  26. ML: Have you ever tried to do an interview with Larry Baer?

  27. Anon — sorry. I don’t see how a naming-rights agreement, presumably contingent on approvals by all gov. agencies and relevant associations (i.e., mlb) and actual construction and operation, would support a Cisco tort action. Theoretically? Maybe. Such a tort action (interference with contract or with prospective business advantage) would not directly involve A/T issues. Although as I acknowledged in response to one of Bartleby’s posts, there’s an interesting way A/T could become a secondary issue. btw, I am genuinely interested in all information available about potential lawsuits against mlb related to the A’s ballpark issues. In other words, I’m more interested in learning than in lecturing.
    Personally, I don’t much care for any A/T exemptions. The exemption that applies to the insurance industry has never warmed my heart, for example. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the A/T rules that concern me about the San Jose situation — the judge-made requirements of A/T standing and A/T injury — are highly technical, and, clearly, intended to bar otherwise injured parties from asserting A/T lawsuits. Do I approve? Who cares. Those rules are firmly entrenched and, given the current US SCt, only likely to be applied more ruthlessly in the future.
    Note that cities and counties sued Microsoft in state court under Calif. A/T law, but they were purchasers of MS products.

  28. @martin – No, and I wouldn’t expect him to say anything different in an interview from what he’s said on other outlets since he works for ownership. If there’s someone I’d want to interview, it’s Charles Johnson, not Baer.

  29. “Such a tort action (interference with contract or with prospective business advantage) would not directly involve A/T issues.”
    First of all, I don’t necessarily agree it would be all that difficult for San Jose at least to make out a case for antitrust injury. However, I don’t see the point in spending a lot of time debating it because (a) San Jose has alternate theories which may serve their objective just as well, and (b) I don’t believe it will bring a lawsuit on this, or would win if it did, making the whole point kind of moot.
    As far as a tort action not “directly” implicating A/T issues: So what? The objective is a court order telling MLB “stop interfering,” not treble damages. If San Jose brought one of these tort claims, MLB only wins if either (a) the territorial allocation of the Bay Area passes muster under the antitrust laws, or (b) the AE is valid. If the NFL couldn’t stop the Raiders from invading new territory, it seems unlikely to me that MLB would be able to prevent the A’s from making an intramarket move, in which case a ruling on (b) becomes quite likely.
    I find it somewhat ironic that you are now arguing San Jose has major standing problems when you have previously argued the Giants might threaten a lawsuit bringing the AE into play as some kind of gambit to scare MLB. It seems to me one would have a lot less difficulty bringing the AE into play if one is being economically damaged by anticompetitive behavior rather than perpetrating it.

  30. The reason direct implication of A/T is important seems obvious to me: that’s the only way a lawsuit would involve the A/T exemption, and, thus threaten mlb with an adverse ruling — on the exemption. Your “pass muster” argument is simply wrong. Just as the current writ proceeding over the land deal pending in SCCo superior court does not implicate the A/T exemption, a garden variety tort action would not — except to the extent I mentioned in an earlier post responding to you.
    And I never said I thought the Giants would sue in A/T. I do believe the Giants somehow initially injected the A/T issues into the confidential discussions at mlb. From the beginning, I’ve been intrigued by the way proxies have threatened, or brought, lawsuits, because the franchises cannot sue. Arbitration is mandatory under the mlb constitution. (The current lawsuit in SCCo superior court, funded by the Giants via the San Jose Giants, using a front group, is one example of such actions.) The San Francisco City Attorney vaguely threatened an A/T action a few years back, when Wolff first made a move toward San Jose. That was probably smoke blowing, but who knows.
    SJ councilperson Liccardo’s the only one who has been specific about his idea of a challenge to the A/T exemption, and he wasn’t talking about a lawsuit. He proposed lobbying congress for a change in the law. He strikes me as a very smart, if somewhat overly ambitious, guy.

  31. I think that if the current Supreme Court would not uphold the MLB antitrust exception, if a lawsuit ever got that far. There is very little legal basis for upholding it. The only real argument in support of it is history and precedent, but the precedent is dated and weak, and most of the members of the current Court are not overly deferential to precedent.

  32. oops — that should read “I think that the current Supreme Court would not uphold….”

  33. Sid mentions above “Selig is going to open up San Jose. Why wait for 40 months to simply shoot it down what he has in the past 3-4 times reaffirmed the Giants rights to San Jose.”
    Agreed, the delay makes little sense if MLB’s position was ‘sorry A’s, we don’t want you moving to SJ’. MLB wouldn’t even be letting negotiations go on. They would have already said to the A’s ‘You moving to SJ doesn’t work for us. Find another place for a stadium’.
    That is the salient point for an ATE lawsuit. It isn’t to win a suit, it is to leverage MLB to make a decision. How likely or unlikely the chances of winning effects only MLB’s chances to cave in. And provided the chances of MLB losing are tangible to any real degree, the impetus for MLB to fight the suit just doesn’t make sense. What are they going to win that will justify taking a chance on something soooooo valuable (their ATE)? They are going to risk losing their ATE for something they are allowing to be negotiated as we speak? It doesn’t makes sense…..

  34. xoot, sam liccardo wasn’t speaking in a vaccuum. While publicly silent, there are many in San Jose/Silicon Valley business that are ready to launch a legal assault based on A/T.

  35. Jeffrey: Liccardo spoke about approaching Congress, not about launching an ineffectual lawsuit. How will this “assualt based on A/T” proceed? That’s my inquiry. In the NJ fed ct Piazza case, the thwarted east coast purchasers of the Giants sued. No one similarly situated, as lawyers like to say, in San Jose. In Fla, in the Butterworth cases (one of which went against mlb, one of which went for it) the Atty General sued, under state A/T law. Similarly, in Minn. (in a case that went for a broad application of the A/T exemption). Those cases show that you can’t predict how an A/T challenge might go; I’m sure mlb doesn’t want to test it. But do you really think movers and shakers in SJ/SV will convince Kamala Harris to pursue an A/T action under Calif. state law?
    And just who are these SV bus. interests ready to launch a legal assault? Cisco?

    • @eb – I read the Cohn article last night and I’ve been aware of the Tripp plan for a week or so. If you want to educate yourself on the Tripp plan, read the term sheet at his site. It’s the basis for both the Sacramento arena and San Diego stadium proposals. Read it and ask yourself, “Why didn’t this pass muster with the officials in SD and Sacto? I’ll be back home tonight and I’ll have a post up late.

  36. I’ve heard of this guy, eb. Anybody can claim anything. I’d like to see him come up with $1 billion+ necessary to make an A’s stadium in Oakland happen. Can he do it?

  37. Sorry for derailing the thread but I’m listening to yahoo radio right now and the A’s and Cespedes are getting national coverage. It’s awesome to finally hear it!

  38. Sounds like this Tripp guy is just another pretender fanning the flames of the diehards. Everything sounds a bit sketchy, even te columnist called it “romantic”. It’s also irrelevant. He hasn’t apparently spoken with the A’s and if they’re committed to leaving then who is this guy and how can he change things?

  39. First of all, Tripp is talking about the Coliseum site that MLB doesn’t want.

  40. Can’t wait to find out how Tripp proposes to pay for a new ballpark. A Middle Eastern investment bank? Sounds a bit farfetched. Would be nice if Tripp were the Knight in Shining Armor we’ve been waiting for. I have my doubts.

  41. Holy crap they broke 30,000 today. 30,470 to be exact. Only had to sweep the Yankees to do it.

  42. @Dan “They?” Don’t you mean “us”, A’s fans? How many games did you make it to this series?

  43. Or “we,” as it were.

  44. This blog has become almost unreadable. Tripp isn’t working with anyone within City Hall nor has he made any calls. ML calls out fans for showing up and they do and of course it still isn’t good enough. It’s amazing to me that 30,000 Oakland fans would give this ownership a dollar. And I went to two of the Yankee games.

  45. Your post was unreadable.

  46. For the record, I meant the comments section not ML’s blog entries.

  47. No I meant they, as in the Oakland only crowd that keep telling us how many fans they have on Facebook.

  48. Was it 30,000 A’s fans in attendance today or 15,000 A’s fans and 15,000 Yankee fans?

  49. Leave it to the newballpark commenters to take a historical weekend and piss all over it.

  50. The A’s sweep is nothing short of glorious. But this blog has never been about discussing the A’s day-to-day goings-on. It’s about ballpark stuff. And we have to keep in perspective that half the crowd is rooting for the Yankees when they come to town. I had several Yankee fans (see other thread) confronting me in May when I started making fun of Pay-Rod.

  51. @stanley Stanson: if the comments have become unreadable then don’t read them. People comment on things that interest them and they often go on tangents, it’s true of most comment threads. What’s your bother?

  52. I wasn’t able to attend any of the games this home stand, save one, which was today. And what a day to attend. Awesome game, glad I got to see it. After the last few weeks, my four year old A’s fan has been telling us ‘cover me’ after he pretends to hit a home run or other hit, and then says ‘put a pie in my face!’

    Based on what I heard of the previous three games (mostly A’s fans in attendance) I think all the Yankees fans got together and decided today was their day to attend. It was at least half Yankees.

  53. What a series! Proudly attended all four victories 🙂

  54. Hey everyone…. this team is something special!!!!!!! Go Yoeins! Go Reddick! Go Doolittle! Go folks who actually show up!
    One thing we should all remember in the “attendance discussions.” The people who deserve scorn (if that isn’t too strong of a word) are not the people who showed up. I was there Thursday night and it was electric, even if it was only 20k.
    I think we all know, for a privately financed stadium to work in Oakland, it’s going to take a lot of folks willing to buy a lot of tickets and pay a lot of money up front. In my opinion, this is the only context in which attendance really matters. If the Oakland crew wants to start an escrow account for folks to start putting funds in for future tickets, I am willing t put my money in.
    Otherwise, let’s freaking enjoy this stuff! Moneyball 2.0 is upon us and, for the first time in a few years, both the future and the present require sunglasses!

  55. I get rather irritated by the comments that Rick Tittle made on the post-game about the reasons people are not attending, because bridges were being burnt. If the city had ever been serious about getting a stadium deal done they would have bit on one long ago instead of waiting for a hail mary that is not feasible like Coliseum City. So that fans that don’t show up because of some issue with Fisher and Wolff are blameless is rather stupid. If you are a fan of the team you still go, especially when your team needs a boost against the Yankees and Rangers. This is the chance of Oakland-Only folks to prove their point and its obvious that the passion behind their position isn’t strong.

    Likewise, any comments to point out that the A’s are winning despite Wolff and Fisher are also stupid and that this is some story about Major League and Ricky Vaughan and Pedro Serrano are also, really stupid. The team had a plan to start anew, not to throw the season but to trim the fat and bring in younger blood that could be ready in a couple of years. Ownership let Billy go out and get Cespedes and to make the deals they did and will let them go get more guys if it makes sense. I’m not sure if it does so long as the deal is for someone who can help now, but will be under team control in 3-4 years.

  56. @Nicosan – Oakland is a “tribal” city. We have a chip on shoulder; unlike any other (American) city i know. When someone openly court another city, Oakland is not going to embrace you.
    Selig and Wolff have both called the Coliseum “unfit” to house MLB. Are those kinds of statements going to peel dollar bills out of the hands of casual baseball fans?

  57. Yeah, I have stopped listening to A’s Talk when Tittle hosts. Mainly for the illogical crap he spouts regularly, on just about any topic related to the A’s.
    The perception that the A’s owners don’t want to win is a myth propogated by folks who don’t want the owners to win.

  58. Rick Tittle is a passionate Oakland A’s fan.

  59. Some of the pro SF giants commentators enjoy fantasizing that the A’s will have difficulty beating the MLB ATE in court. One doesn’t have to be a legal whiz to know that it is on shaky ground. The presiding judge who last upheld the ATE even stated in the ruling that the upholding of the ATE should not be considered an endorsement of it – and it remained open to legal interpetation (hardly an endorsement of the ATE) Afterwards, the Tampa Bay owners group pierced it twice successfully.

    Despite their false bravado, the giants mgt. would not be in a very comfortable postition if the A’s decide to challenge the ATE in court. Their argument that the A’s are moving into their so-called territory by moving 35 miles further away from AT&T Park would likely provide a good courtroom laugh. Also the fact that the ATE is on shaky legal groun – the giants ownership’s attempt at bluffing with a weak hand can easily be called.

  60. And how much of the fan base is actually in Oakland, as opposed to Dublin? Los Gatos? Modesto? There is a lot more to a fan base than just Oakland, its not just a city’s team it’s a regional team. As a person who has been going to A’s games, I’m less interested in what Rick Tittle or Chris Townsend think about ownership and more interested in them being moderators of dialogue with fans. Towny and Tittle have their contrasting opinions, thats great.

    BTW, Oakland doesn’t have a monopoly as a city above other’s with a chip on it’s shoulder. I lived in Philly for 4 years and I’m from the Central Valley: Bakersfield, Fresno and Stockton face a lot harder socio-economic circumstances than Oakland, yet all have A’s fans who care less about the image of Oakland and about whether the team is winning and also serving the greater fan base of the team. On those two measures, I would say they are doing pretty darn well.

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