Giants, A's territorial rights saga takes new, confusing turn

March 4, 2012, 11:44 pm
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Bill Madden of the New York Daily News has been around baseball long enough to know where the bodies are interred, and who put them there. He also has people of influence whispering in his ear when they want something disseminated sans fingerprints, so when he drops a report, people tend to notice.Saturdays item, though, that baseballs other 28 owners are inclined to uphold the Giants claims to the territorial rights to San Jose, smacked not of resolution to the problem, but unsubtle arm-twisting to force the Giants and As to come to an accommodation, as Vito Corleone liked to put it 40 years ago.The report, summarized briefly, was that the Giants claim to San Jose was more persuasive to the other owners, who could if they thought it was good for the game make those rights go away with one vote and a round of drinks.

This of course came as a surprise to Lew Wolff, the As front man, who said he hasnt heard a thing about it. Which means of course, that either he hasnt, or he has.Thats the beauty of baseball. You always have to guess how many lies you get to before the truth emerges. And because everyone in the business of baseball with any heat knows the art of misdirection even better than Sun-Tzu.So lets break down the possibilities.1. The Madden report is right, in which case John Fisher and Wolff are selling the team as quickly as possible, because they have already poisoned the Oakland well as comprehensively as possible.
2. The Madden report is wrong (meaning he was given disinformation, not that he wasnt told what he says he was told), in which case one can infer that whoever leaked it either works for or supports the Giants claim.
3. The Madden report is wrong, in which case whoever leaked it was trying to push the process by which the two sides argue over the amount of the tribute the As give the Giants.
4. The Madden report is wrong, in which case someone was just trying to do a little mischief and get the owners attention from the Mets and Dodgers for a few minutes.In sum, either we have reached the end game because the other owners are sick of the two sides and their tedious posturings, or we have reached the end game because the As want some action one way or another.Or someone (gee, I wonder who that could be) is trying to kill the plan via leak.The question resides, ultimately, in which team baseball places its greater hopes, and by team, we mean ownership group. Wolff has Selig, but Seligs alliances shift with circumstances, as Bob Lurie can happily tell you with a map of the scars on his psyche.The Giants have the economic might, but their ownership has now changed twice in three years and the new guy, Charles Johnson, isnt an insider by any means.And yes, its Johnson rather than Larry Baer, because baseball owners deal with the guy with the most money in the game, not the one who is the public face.If Baer is a player here in any way, its because hes had 20 years to make relationships with other owners. Not that that matters all that much, but in an argument, you use whatever weapons you have at your command.In short, this is about lobbying, and effective whispering, and pressing buttons on the right keyboards. Bud Selig doesnt run baseball, but he has access to those who do, and he is not going to take the lead on an ownership question of this magnitude. He will seek consensus among the strongest of his employers, and without knowing where they stand, we cannot know where the future of San Jose baseball stands.And Bill Madden either has moved the story along, or he hasnt, depending on why whoever told him San Jose was dead told him San Jose was dead.If youre confused, dont be. This isnt reading tea leaves. This is reading mulch.

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