Bud Selig’s worst nightmare could come true this postseason. With the San Francisco Giants rallying to tie their series with the Cincinnati Reds at 2 games apiece, and with the never-say-die Oakland Athletics continuing to defy the baseball gods—and anyone else who gets in their way—by stealing game 4 from the Detroit Tigers after scoring three runs in the bottom of the 9th inning last night to win their game 4-3, a Bay Bridge Series still has a chance of happening. Oh joy!
That doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, does it? Exciting postseason baseball, riveting matchups, high drama, the chance for rivalries to play out. After all, baseball loves its rivalries. It loves naming them too. The Subway Series. The Freeway Series. The Crosstown Showdown. This is the sort of marketing that Major League Baseball absolutely loves, so they should be all over this one, right?
With apologies to the Baltimore Orioles, the A’s have unquestionably been the feel-good story of the year in the MLB, but this is the last team that Selig wants going to The World Series. They’re not located in a big market. They don’t draw a ton of fans. They don’t have any superstars. And, let’s be honest, they’re not the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox, whom the MLB would certainly love to have as its World Series participants every year if they could find a way to swing it. Old Bud’s got to be hoping for a Yankees-St. Louis Cardinals tilt at this point.
But there’s a bigger, two-fold problem beyond all of this. Selig has to be hoping the A’s lose tonight because if they don’t, people are going to continue to talk about Oakland’s desire to move to greener pastures in San Jose so they can succeed long-term as an organization. And, of course, that will bring the Giants into play with their ridiculous territorial rights complaints. Can you imagine the number of questions Selig will have to dodge if the A’s and Giants both make it to the World Series? Talk about the sort of drama and intrigue Selig doesn’t want to be a part of.
The media will naturally be looking for any and every story they can possibly report on before and during the series, and apart from the long-standing geographical rivalry and the Giants’ desire to avenge their 1989 blowout loss at the hands of the A’s, what is going to grab their attention more than a situation that has lasted longer than Obama’s presidency?
Selig commissioned a committee to look into the rights issue back in March 2009, and that was only after a protracted battle in the papers between Oakland’s and San Francisco’s owners about whether Oakland should be able to move there or not. The classic tale of the tortoise and the hare starts to sound odd when the molasses-thick movements of this committee make that tortoise look like the hare by comparison.
San Francisco’s short-sightedness is hindering the financial stability of the MLB, and for some reason Selig and his committee are allowing this to happen. Lost in the shuffle is the fact that were it not for the kindness of late A’s owner Walter Haas to then-Giants owner Bob Lurie, the Giants would not have been given territorial rights to San Jose when they considering relocating to Florida some years back, and they probably would no longer be in the Bay Area.
Add to this the fact that the low-budget A’s play in the oldest and most decrepit stadium in the league, are the only remaining team to share a stadium with a National Football League team (thanks, Al Davis) and are annually the willing recipients of revenue sharing and you can see how pathetic this situation is.
Anyone with a lick of common sense can tell you that the MLB would benefit from having the A’s relocate to the more affluent San Jose area. A new baseball-only stadium in that market would give them a chance to succeed financially, keep their current players for more than three years at a time, attract new superstars to the area and keep them from being one of the league’s perpetual bottom-feeders, financially. Teams sharing revenues with teams like Oakland would rejoice.
A 2012 Forbes article listed the Giants as the league’s 9th most valuable team, and their value has increased by double digits each of the past 2 years, so they aren’t exactly hurting as an organization. Oh sure, they might lose some of their corporate support were Oakland to move to San Jose, but their fear that their attendance would suddenly shrink up like a grape in the California sun is preposterous.
Most Giants fans hate the A’s and aren’t suddenly going to switch allegiances to the A’s just because they come to town. And the folks in San Jose who don’t currently root for the Giants won’t be detracting from their profitability by deciding to support the A’s.
Selig better hope and pray that the A’s and Giants both lose today, otherwise his nightmares will continue for at least the next week, which could then lead to another week. And if he’s really unlucky, his nightmare could turn into a reality. Wouldn’t that be fun?