The saga goes on and on, seemingly without real developments, except that the lack of development is sort of a large development all itself.
The A's want to move to San Jose, are getting more and more frustrated and apparently anguished about the delay, and the more it's delayed, the more likely that the nothingness solidifies into reality.
I'm also wondering -- just being real here, stripping away some of the political drama -- where the money is going to come from to placate the Giants (if any number will do), build a stadium and make sure the other owners are made whole here.
I'll throw out my loose math a little later in the item, but let's try to hammer down a couple of points here:
1. MLB, by all indications, is not going to force the Giants to give up their territorial rights to San Jose without major concessions.
Bud Selig is not the commissioner to go into a room and shove something this big down any team's throat, and it's obvious by now that he doesn't have the votes to do it, even if he wanted to.
Doesn't matter that the A's only gave up the rights to Santa Clara County to help save the Giants long ago, doesn't matter -- IN THIS ARGUMENT -- that the A's surely would be better off if they were in San Jose.
Baseball isn't going to do this unilaterally. If it was going to do it, this would've happened two or three years ago.
The Giants are bountifully successful in some large part because they control the Santa Clara market (and the Peninsula, by the way); this is NOT a small thing.
Despite the A's pleas, baseball is committed to finding a solution involving diplomacy, not commissioner fiat; so far, zippo on that.
2. The Giants aren't willing to negotiate on a price to waive their territorial rights -- their position is they don't want a team in San Jose, PERIOD.
It's a fair position, if ruthless. By ruthless, I mean it zeroes out any sympathy for the plight of the A's, and if taken to the Nth degree, quite possibly pushes the A's out of the Bay Area or out of existence.
But the Giants are a business and this is their right. If they ever start to talk about a price, it's going to be LARGE. Starting with a number larger than $100M, I've heard mentioned. Probably much larger than that.
3. If Selig coalesces some push to figure out a number that would make the Giants happy, the money will have to come from the revenue-sharing side.
That's where this gets very, very complicated.
From what I understand, and if you know the situation, the A's are not in the position to put up $100M, $150M, $200M or whatever the number theoretically might be to satisfy the Giants.
Wolff and John Fisher aren't in this situation to pay out that kind of dough. No way, no chance. They'd rather sell than do this. In fact, selling is now probably the most likely option.
But this is not about the sell option. That's for later.
This is about coming up with the money, and it won't be Wolff and Fisher. That's not how these deals are done, anyway -- when MLB moved the Expos to Washington D.C., they cut a deal with the Orioles that included massive percentages of the new Nationals' local TV deal.
More complications: The A's, unlike the Expos, are not owned by MLB (yet).
The A's, unlike the Expos/Nationals, would not be moving into a mostly new TV territory. Baltimore has some overlap into D.C., but not much. It's fractional.
The A's and Giants essentially operate in the same media market... and while I guess the A's could presume to gain viewership if they were in San Jose, it's not by leaps and bounds.
Comcast might out of the goodness of its heart decide to pay the A's more than the $15M or so I approximate for their annual rights fee if the A's were in SJ, not Oakland, but Comcast has a long existing contract and I do not know why Comcast would do that, anyway.
So where would the money come from? The other owners aren't digging into their pockets to pay off the Giants, I can tell you that.
It'd come from the future revenue-sharing, that's where.
The A's got a little more than $30M last year. The Giants paid more than $40M.
If you spread-sheet this out, you could sketch a way for the Giants to get almost all of the A's revenue-sharing money, over a five-, six-, seven- or whatever-year span.
The A's would be in a new stadium in four or five years, at that point potentially reaping $70M+ in extra revenue just from the stadium once it opens. (But that new stadium is scaled so small that I don't know if that number is actually get-able.)
Would enough owners be happy with the Giants eating up $30M in annual revenue-sharing checks over a long period of time?
Would the Giants even agree to this? And could the A's owners stomach going without that check -- perhaps starting in 2014 or 2015 at the latest?
I think that's highly questionable, and maybe some of that is improbable.
If the A's owners can't do it without the $30M check, then the other owners would be looking at funding BOTH teams for a few years... and I definitely cannot see that happening.
This is complicated. If I'm wrong on any of these suppositions, I'm sure I'll hear about it.
I've purposely chosen to stay away from some of the real nitty-gritty details. Again, I offer my general Switzerland stance:
I believe the A's probably should be in San Jose and I also believe the Giants have the right to be as ruthless as they can get away with.
I'm just trying to figure out a way this could happen, if the sides are halfway amenable to talking about it. Right now, I'm not quite seeing it. Maybe Lew Wolff and Bud Selig are getting there, too.