A's owner must take a stand for new park
March, 5, 2013
By Buster Olney | ESPN Insider
Brad Mangin/Getty ImagesPoor home crowds and an outdated facility are the reasons the A's want to move.San Jose councilman Sam Liccardo wants the city to sue the San Francisco Giants, as Mark Purdy writes. From his story:
"The concern that seems to be broadly discussed is about litigation on behalf of the San Francisco Giants," Liccardo said the other day at his City Hall office. "But the San Francisco Giants should become concerned about the threat of a lawsuit by the city of San Jose."
Seriously? Yes, seriously. Liccardo says the Giants are not just standing in the way of San Jose's downtown reaching its full potential, they are costing the city real money.
"We have an independent economic analysis," Liccardo said. "And it documents that the fiscal benefit of a downtown San Jose ballpark -- and this is in conservative terms, with just the property taxes generated and the money that would go to public schools and to the county -- exceeds $30 million over 30 years. And any antitrust suit that the city might bring could mean treble damages."
In other words, if the Giants lost the lawsuit that Liccardo wants to file, the team could be liable for $90 million or more.
But what about the legal costs to San Jose and its citizens for filing the lawsuit? Liccardo has that handled, too.
"There are extremely qualified litigators, well-known attorneys, who are willing to take it on without a dime of cost to San Jose taxpayers," Liccardo said. "I've spoken with them. They would take it on a contingency basis."
So when will Liccardo bring his new lawsuit proposal to the rest of the council? That likely depends on [Athletics owner Lew] Wolff, who is a lifelong friend and former college fraternity brother of Selig. San Jose has taken Wolff's direction on all ballpark matters. And so far, Wolff has been reluctant to do anything that might upset Selig. Liccardo, an attorney by trade, wonders if Wolff might be getting angry enough to give Liccardo a green light.
"I'm happy to swing the hammer and pound the nail," Liccardo said. "There are others, who have a bigger stake in this, that are more reluctant. The A's ownership wants to find an amicable solution. But for the strong desire of Lew Wolff to play nice, I would be urging my colleagues to file suit right now."
To which I say: Then just stop talking about it and make it happen.
To say that Wolff has tried to play nice is being polite. To put it more bluntly: He has been Charlie Brown trying to kick a football that has been pulled away from him time after time after time.
Wolff has been strung along by Major League Baseball, which formed a committee to study this issue so long ago that you might need carbon dating in examining some of the documents it has generated.
I've written here before that commissioner Bud Selig has quietly worked to build consensus on behalf of the Athletics to essentially force the Giants into conceding the San Jose territory, for a price.
But it's worth remembering that even if the Athletics got the OK to move today, it would be years before they would play their first game in San Jose. Wolff has a dream, and his biological clock is ticking (so to speak); the Athletics' need a game-changer, to push things along. If Wolff wants this to happen, he probably needs to stick his elbows out and start pushing. If there are lawyers ready to go with this thing, then they probably should get the paperwork in the mail ... like, yesterday. Because waiting hasn't worked for Wolff yet.
Through the years, other baseball executives have noted that Major League Baseball is a very slow-shifting industry, and that there are two key factors to bring about change:
1. The loudest get the most attention.
2. Nothing generates more attention than lawsuits.
And at this point, what does Wolff have to lose?
Ryan and the Rangers
To put it simply: The reason the Texas Rangers gave Jon Daniels a new title the other day had more to do with assistant GM Thad Levine than it did with Nolan Ryan. Texas ownership wants to hold together the band that works under Daniels, and by giving Daniels the title of president of baseball operations, this creates some title space to promote Levine someday to general manager -- which is what's been done with David Forst in Oakland, and with Rick Hahn in Chicago.
But after 36 hours of speculation about Ryan's future, it's become evident that he's not happy with the shifting titles and perception. It seems like everybody in the Texas organization is working hard to say this isn't a big deal and that Ryan's status is unchanged -- except Ryan. And until he says himself that everything is hunky-dory, well, you can assume that all is not well.
It has been known for some time in other organizations that there is unrest in the Rangers' front office. Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News defines some of it here. Kevin's thoughts: