Who's afraid of the big bad Lew Wolff? Apparently, the Giants are.
A's owner Lew Wolff wants to move the team to San Jose because the Oakland Coliseum is outdated (and baseball-unfriendly, thanks to the return of Al Davis and the NFL's Raiders from Los Angeles in 1995). He says there are no viable options for a new ballpark in Oakland, and his plans for a new home in Fremont never got to first base, to coin a phrase. Actually, those plans might have gotten to first base but definitely didn't make it to second. Got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Meanwhile, San Jose politicians have made encouraging responses to Wolff's queries and so now the South Bay is the location over which the A's owner lusts.
Enter baseball commissioner Bud Selig, an old fraternity brother of Wolff's (did somebody say "good 'ol boys' network"?), who has gathered the relevant information and has been mulling whether to give Wolff and the A's a green light for San Jose.
Thing is, he's been mulling for quite a while now, over a year.
Why all the mulling? Maybe because he doesn't want the San Francisco Giants to sue MLB.
The Giants have asserted something called "territorial rights." Translated, the term "territorial rights" means the Giants don't welcome competition. They feel they draw a substantial number of their season-ticket holders and sponsorships from the South Bay, including greater San Jose and its environs, particularly Silicon Valley, and frankly they'd resent the A's elbowing their way into those revenue sources.
Admittedly I'm an innocent when it comes to high finance, but "territorial rights" sounds like something Poland had and Hitler violated, not something a baseball team has, exclusive of another baseball team. The Giants' attitude, apparently, has nothing to do with the basic tenet of capitalism — competition — and everything to do with viewing the A's as an invading army that must be stopped. Appeasement is not an option. "Territorial rights" sounds downright anti-capitalist, therefore anti-American, doesn't it?
Admittedly the notion I'm about to propose is as quaint as single-admission doubleheaders, but here goes: If the Giants had any competitive cajones, they'd welcome the A's to San Jose. They'd man up and say "bring it on," and let the chips fall where they may.
The Giants are the defending World Series champions. They play in a jewel of a ballpark. They draw 3 million paying customers every season. What is it, exactly, that they fear if the A's move to San Jose? Their ballpark will still be a jewel. They'll still have the team that won the 2010 World Series. They'll still have the Mays-McCovey-Marichal legacy.
Are the Giants actually afraid some of their fans might switch their primary allegiance to the San Jose A's? Doesn't say much about their faith in their faithful, does it? And so what if, for whatever reason, some Giants fans in the South Bay became San Jose A's fans? That would mean having to compete harder to win back those fans or work harder to attract new fans. And that's unacceptable, why?
Here's another naive idea. Northern California baseball fans are lucky — blessed, even — to live in an area in which they can see every big-league team, every big-league player. This us vs. them, Giants vs. A's, San Francisco vs. Oakland nonsense is juvenile. Or laughably pseudo-militaristic.