Amidst all of the Lettergate hubbub (credit to
Mike @muppet151 for the term), now comes an article from LA Times writer Bill Shaikin called MLB gives tentative guidelines for potential move to San Jose. There’s nothing revelatory in the article, and nothing to indicate that anything would happen soon. Yet the headline, much like this headline, seems aimed to inflame or at the very least act as clickbait.
Then again, the information seems to back many of the assertions I made when I wrote about the territorial rights saga last month. Whether there’s real fire to this smoke or this is part of an ongoing misinformation campaign (also exercised by the other side), we won’t know for certain until it’s all over.
This got me thinking about how much compensation should cost. Shaikin notes that determination of any compensation award would be entirely within the purview of the commissioner’s office. Then it occurred to me that when Lew Wolff presented the San Jose concept, it was thought that the A’s might move to San Jose after the current Coliseum lease expires, or the 2014 season. With the A’s unlikely to be able to move until 2018, that’s four full seasons of forgone revenue at Cisco Field, while the Giants continue to lap it up at AT&T Park. That “opportunity cost” is offset somewhat by ongoing revenue sharing in Oakland, which would go away after the new ballpark opened.
With the Giants able to maximize their hegemony over the region and the A’s continuing to limp on at the Coliseum, any thought of the A’s being any kind of financial threat to the Giants has evaporated. And that, right there, may well be the compensation in a sort of unstated, off-the-books form. An extra $40 million to the A’s via San Jose doesn’t necessarily mean it’s $40 million less for the Giants. But it does mean that no money moves in the current situation, which is just fine with the Giants. $160 million for those four years, without Bud Selig having to make the tough decision? Sounds like how baseball would work.
What would happen in 2018? That would be up to whoever is the commissioner, probably not Bud Selig. Maybe there’s some nominal amount of compensation. My argument for a while has been that there won’t be, not because of what Wally Haas did for the Giants 20 years ago, but because MLB and the owners don’t want to set a price for a territory. Doing so would set a precedent for future moves into other territories. In the Giants-A’s case, the situation is unique enough to be difficult to duplicate, and by not setting a real price for Santa Clara County, the owners don’t create a market.
I’m not the only person who thinks compensation will be a trivial matter:
— Christina Kahrl (@ChristinaKahrl) February 21, 2013
This is one of those times I wish I had a time machine so I could tell you how it works out. For now we wait. Forever we wait.