In San Francisco, the big-market Giants spend $100 million on player salaries annually.17 miles away, in Oakland, the Athletics can only afford to spend half that.
It’s a curious aspect of baseball’s financials, but one that’s become an accepted fact.
Naturally, the Athletics have been vying to reverse their fortunes over the last decade, and have settled on what seems to be a pretty good plan: moving the team to San Jose. There, they can:
- Build the new stadium they desperately need but Oakland appears unwilling to fund.
- Move out from underneath the long shadow cast by their National League neighbours.
- Accomplish all that without being accused of stealing the team from the fanbase, as San Jose is just 35 miles from Oakland.
All in all, that looks pretty good. But, as Mark Purdy notes in the Mercury News, the Giants have blocked the move by claiming San Jose to be their territory. Yet the Giants do little in the way of making residents of San Jose feel any connection to the club. Purdy writes:
If the Giants really believed that San Jose was their “territory” instead of simply a way to keep the South Bay at bay, [Giants owner Bill] Neukom would treat Santa Clara County as more than a subservient fiefdom thrown a few crumbs. The San Francisco Giants might have staged a separate World Series celebration in San Jose after the parade in San Francisco. Or perhaps Neukom might have invited the San Jose Giants’ small front-office staff to the major league team’s World Series party in San Francisco. Didn’t happen.
Obviously, the Giants are doing it for the money – which is fine. The Orioles did the same thing and demanded compensation (which they got, in the form of a television deal with the new club) when the Nationals came to town.
But the Athletics already exist in a territory far closer to San Francisco than San Jose is. That’s why the Giants’ claim is far more tenuous than the Orioles’ ever was. Evidently, the team is financially viable with the A’s 16 miles away, but claims to be worried that if the Athletics moves 50 miles away, San Francisco will suddenly see the red. It just doesn’t add up.
San Francisco needs to do what’s in the best interest of baseball, and take a few million dollars to let the A’s open up a new park in San Jose. It could help one of baseball’s most financially ill teams become healthy. And fans would finally get to see what Billy Beane could do with a few extra million-dollars to throw around.
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