<
>

San Jose to vote on ballpark for A's

With everyone west of the Bay and north of the Bay and east of the Bay and south of the Bay still waiting for some official word on the fate of the Athletics, San Jose's mayor has scheduled a ballot measure for this fall ... and Major League Baseball has pledged its support.

So why (Craig asks) won't MLB come out and say the A's are moving to San Jose?

    I imagine the reason for that last part is that baseball is afraid of the Giants' territorial claim, but everything else they're doing is consistent with baseball's interest in disregarding it. Which they should do, because carving up the nation in arbitrary territories is stupid, anti-competitive and, in the long run, bad for business. We know it would be outrageously difficult for a third team to relocate to New York now, but if it had happened 20 years ago as the stadium and RSN boom was getting underway, they'd be swimming in it now.

    Grow a pair, Bud. Call the Giants on their bluff. If it gets ugly, it gets ugly, but the most you have to lose is an archaic system that is going to prevent your successor from helping baseball propel itself into the 21st century.

Why start that fight before absolutely necessary?

There's every reason for Major League Baseball to support the ballot measure in San Jose, and no reason (that I can think of) not to. If the ballot measure passes, the Giants will be forced to address at least the possibility that the A's are moving to San Jose. And if there's any wiggle room in Oakland or Fremont for a new ballpark, voter approval in San Jose will kickstart negotiations.

But without any official sort of future in San Jose, the Giants have no reason to negotiate some sort of settlement -- bluff or no bluff, there will be some sort of settlement, just as there was when the Expos became the Nationals -- and the other cities have no real imperative to move. My guess is that if the measure in San Jose passes, suddenly we'll see a great deal of movement elsewhere.

I wish the Athletics could stay in Oakland, where they have a small but passionate fan base. But once an owner's committed to leaving, the well is poisoned and everyone might as well make the best of an unfortunate situation.

Update: The mayor San Jose has backed down, presumably under a great deal of pressure from Mr. Selig, who apparently isn't ready, at all, to call the Giants' bluff.