If you’ve never attended a Civil War Reenactment, you probably should put that on your bucket list. I attended one a few years back and they’re actually pretty cool, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Of course, you could save yourself the $40 bucks or so that it costs to get into a reenactment event by just tuning into Major League Baseball over the next couple of months.
That’s when the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s will duke it out over a proposed move by the A’s to nearby San Jose. Commissioner Bud Selig will be playing the part of Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.
By the way, Selig, who was given a two-year contract extension by baseball owners yesterday after a 29-1 vote, will have served for 20 years after the 2014 season. That’s the second-longest tenure as baseball’s top dog since Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ 22-year reign ended in 1944.
The first order of business for Selig this year, he says, is to take care of that elephant on the table.
By now, you know the story.
The A’s want to move out of Oakland, preferably to San Jose. The Giants contend that San Jose is in their territory (it is) and they’re not just going to allow their Bay Area rivals to mosey on in without paying the piper.
You thought the toll bridge fees in the Bay Area were getting out of hand? Wait until you see what the Giants demand in exchange for the A’s rights to trespass on their land.
When the Montreal Expos changed their name to the Washington Nationals and moved into the Orioles’ backyard in 2005, Selig agreed to give the Orioles about $100 million dollars worth of concessions.
Some insiders like ESPN’s Rob Neyer think the Giants could fetch double that amount.
Selig is no dummy here. While his office has reportedly said it wants to help the A’s franchise move to the South Bay, he knows it won’t happen without the Giants’ help.
The commissioner was quoted yesterday as saying, “It’s really on the front burner. I would say we’re moving at a rather quick pace. Ultimately, when we get close to a resolution, we need to get everybody to sit and talk and avoid that. Get it settled.”
See what he did there?
Read that again: “We need to get everybody to sit and talk and avoid that.”
He’s talking about avoiding a challenge by the Giants.
Among those challenges, according to Mark Purdy at the San Jose Mercury News, are a lawsuit filed by a public-interest group called “Stand For San Jose” and other potential lawsuits by the Giants or their current sponsors and loan holders.
Selig knows the precedent has been set (by the Orioles-Nationals agreement).
The Giants have the upper hand here and if you think for a second that Selig will somehow use his “Commissioner Powers” to force the Giants into allowing the A’s to march into the South Bay scot-free, think again.
With expensive multi-year contracts from Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum (and eventually Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner) on the horizon, the Giants could use all the money they can get.
What I’m saying here is the Giants have precedent, litigation, and lots of motivation on their side.
Selig plays a key role in this issue, to be sure. The way I see it, the commissioner has two choices here:
1. He could attempt an all-out frontal assault and try to strong-arm the Giants into giving in, or…
2. He could claim his hands are tied and tell A’s owner Lew Wolff, “Sorry, Lew, I tried the best I could to get the Giants to budge, but they won’t.”
Which brings us back to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the only baseball commissioner who served longer than Selig.
According to David Pietrusza’s book Judge And Jury: The Life And Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Landis was named after Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia—the site of a brutal Civil War battle in 1864.
A battle that ended pretty sorely for Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops, I might add.
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