Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Votes for San Jose Might Not Be There

The reality, as Bill Madden recently pointed out in the New York Daily News is that 3/4 of MLB's owners must approve of the A's being granted the San Francisco Giants territory in order to move to San Jose. (This is to say nothing of what "compensation" the Giants may extort demand. There are 30 MLB teams, and 3/4 of that is 22.5. Let's say we round up and you need 23 votes. There are compelling reasons for numerous owners to vote against changing the assigned territories, and the Giants only need six more teams to join them to block the move.

Before we begin, bear in mind two key items, the MLB Constitution (which spells out land territories) the TV blackout chart (determine who sees what game, enormously important in this TV contract crazy era). Further, the A's wouldn't have put out a defensive press release, as they did today, regarding t-rights if something Madden said didn't bother them.

Now, let's take a hypothetical poll: (Mind you these are just reasoned opinions, as no one has the facts on this issue.)

A's: YES -- Obviously.

Angels: YES -- The Angels may one day want to move into to the city of Los Angeles. However, unlike the A's, they already have the rights to do so in a shared territory with the Dodgers.

Astros: LEAN YES -- One market for expansion or relocation remains San Antonio (the 7th largest city in the United States, and both the Astros and the Rangers would prefer this not occur. Neither team has territorial rights to San Antonio but they both share the TV market.

Blue Jays: NO -- The Jays have all of Canada to themselves and would likely prefer not to ever have to share the territory again as they did with the Expos. (Just look at how far they broadcast their games.)

Braves: LEAN YES -- A prime relocation spot for the Tampa Bay Rays is Charlotte, N.C. -- home of their AAA affiliate. The Braves have the TV rights for South Carolina so they might object to a move by the A's as that is an entree for a bid by the Rays to move to the outskirts of their territory.

Brewers: YES -- Bud Selig's old team. While he is officially not involved with the team, you have to think he still has pull. There is also no real threat, at present, to the Brew Crew's territory.

Cardinals: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Cubs: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Dodgers: YES -- In bankruptcy, run partially by the league and for sale, The Dodgers are seemingly puppets for Selig's wishes.

Diamondbacks: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Giants: NO -- Obviously.

Indians: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Marlins: YES -- YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Mariners: LEAN YES -- Portland is a huge television market for the Mariners. There is an incentive for the M's to let the A's go to S.J. so as to ensure they don't come to Portland (assuming the team or city could build a stadium there). They could also vote no in a defensive move to ward off potential expansion/movement by another club (as in the Rays) by arguing that the PDX market allows them to have a mid-sized market. (This article is a little old, but you can see the M's care a good bit about the Rose City.)

Mets: LEAN NO -- The Mets have a strong incentive in keeping the system as it is. Both they and the Yankees have the richest, most populated territories all to themselves. The NYC/Northern Jersey/CT market could easily support one or even two more teams provided there were stadiums. However, given the Wilpon/Madoff affair, Bud might be pulling ownership's strings as they struggle to avoid selling the club.

Nationals: LEAN NO -- The Nationals do not want a team in Charlotte, where they have TV rights.

Orioles -- LEAN NO -- See the Nationals.

Padres: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Pirates: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Phillies: LEAN YES -- A second baseball team in Philly is simply not supported by both history (see the A's) or the region's corporate and population base. If you have ever been to Camden, you will understand why an MLB stadium will not be going up there.

Rangers: LEANS YES -- See Astros.

Red Sox: NO -- Boston, and New England as a whole, could easily support another team -- anathema to the BoSox.

Reds: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Rockies: YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this. The only caveat here is that it was revealed last summer that the city of Oakland has been paying hired a lobbyist with previous ties to the Rockies. For what, no one knows.

Royals: YES -- The Royals have TV rights for Omaha, which is a long-shot relocation spot but a great college baseball town.

Tampa Bay: YES -- The Rays, however, might use a vote to open a new territorial issue (involving moving to say New York City) which surely owners are loath to address.

Tigers: YES -- YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

Twins: YES -- YES -- No logical reason, other than some alliance with the Giants, not to approve this.

White Sox: YES -- We know Jerry Reinsdorf, their owner, is already on board.

Yankees: NO -- See the Mets entry, minus the ownership issues. Ownership may think revenue sharing is "communism" but they certainly do not want a team in their backyard siphoning off fans and millions of dollars.

Count the leans towards their respective categories and you get seven "No's." That would mean the motion was denied unless Selig invokes his secret power, the "best interests of baseball" clause in his contract and overrules everyone.

The issue is bigger than just San Jose, which is partially what Madden was saying. You have to consider the Rays, who are getting increasingly desperate in Tampa Bay and may want to test territorial rights as well. You  have to consider the logical spots for relocation, given stadiums and interest by cities, which include Montreal,  Portland and San Antonio and, of course, the New York and Boston metro areas. Remember too that with TV contract money fueling massive revenue influxes for teams, relocation into land or TV territory of other clubs could cost the teams infringed upon millions.

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