When the moment positively, absolutely, indubitably demands an act of publicity-grabbing idiocy, a local politician will stand and be counted. It’s almost a law of physics.
So it was that, in the face of Week 205 of Major League Baseball’s Blue Ribbon Panel of hobbits, elves, orcs and unicorns, San Jose city councilman Sam Liccardo came up with a grand new idea, floated through Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News.
San Jose should sue the San Francisco Giants.
Well, it would be a grand new idea if not for two things. One, it isn’t new. People have suggested that San Jose sue somebody for years now. And two, it’s a pretty sure loser.
[RELATED: San Jose councilman wants city to sue Giants]
The theory, though, is this: San Jose (well, a segment thereof) wants the A’s. The A’s want San Jose. The Giants claim San Jose, in pretty much the same way that we claim all the asteroids in the Kuiper Belt, and are allegedly talking about suing San Jose if the A’s move, and this would be a nice rolled-up newspaper to the nose of that particular dog.
The theory is, of course, nonsense, as the entire saga has been. If this is ever decided, it will be decided in only one way, the one way the A’s seem so reluctant to try.
To work the other 28 owners the way politicians actually do work. In hallways. On the phone. At meetings. By showing them the money they can all collect if the A’s were allowed to move.
You know, by actually WORKING THE DAMNED ROOM.
But they don’t. They have hitched their wagon to the laughable strategy of letting commissioner Bud Selig do the heavy lifting, which he doesn’t want to do while he is still in the corner office. They have convinced themselves that a verbal endorsement from Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is worth the carbon dioxide with which it was expelled. And they sit and wait for someone to bail them out of their predicament while making a revenue-sharing profit every year with a debt-free operation.
In short, the A’s aren’t showing the urgency to get anything done at all, perhaps on the misguided theory that baseball loves them too much, and that maybe they can outwait the Giants and their 78-year-old patriarch, Charlie Johnson.
And the Giants aren’t doing anything either, figuring that John Fisher will eventually get tired, give up and sell to someone who thinks the team would thrive in Oakland, or Oklahoma City, or Okinawa.
And Selig isn’t showing the urgency to get anything done on his watch, leaving the two franchises to try and bridge the gap between San Francisco’s offer of “all the money you have, plus a dollar” and Oakland’s “not a dime, and bite me.”
So where does San Jose fit into this? As always, nowhere. And why Liccardo doesn’t understand this is anyone’s guess.
No baseball problem, at least none between owners, has ever been solved with anything other than bribery or politics. There is no bribery because the Giants and A’s can’t agree on a price for the territorial rights that the Giants actually can’t maintain anyway. And there is no politics because neither side has much of a bully pulpit with its fellow owners.
Thus, it is no wonder that nothing has happened. Nothing of substance has been done. And since the A’s are the side that wants to change the status quo, the burden is on them to do the do.
That is to say, Fisher, the man with the skin in the game, and Lew Wolff, the front man/stadium point man, have to work the owners. Individually, in groups, and relentlessly. They need to be as aggressive and even obnoxious as Baltimore’s Peter Angelos, who is in his own little squeeze play with Washington’s Ted Lerner.
They need to act like they actually want and need to move, as opposed to sitting back and letting the money roll in every December. They need to take the point on this, not Sam Liccardo and his “let’s throw a lawyer at them” strategy-ette.
Instead, they look content with their current strategy of sitting and holding their breaths until someone else turns blue. And the Giants look content with their hyperactive ATM at Third and Goldmine. And Selig and Reinsdorf and other 28 owners look content because the Giants and A’s are acting content. Nobody seems unhappy enough to actually do anything at all.
Except Sam Liccardo. And Sam Liccardo is not on anyone’s radar because he’s not talking about a lawsuit against the Giants. He’s talking about THE THREAT of a lawsuit against the Giants for some future, as-yet-undefined outrage that might not actually be one. So he’s bringing one more big hat and no cattle to a rodeo that already lots of hats and not one single butt of livestock.
But at least he got some advance grandstanding in before everything hits the fan on the San Jose issue – in 2027. Or later. Depending.