BOB: Athletics stadium update and Rangers sale newsby Brian Borawski
December 23, 2009
Marvin Miller reduxI received both some heat and some praise for my declaration that Marvin Miller got the shaft, but one thing I definitely know is that I didn’t explain my case very well. Just about everything I’ve read over the past couple of years has been in favor of Miller getting into the Hall of Fame. That affirms my opinion, but I forgot the fact that there might be some people against Miller getting in. In fact there are some very important people and they sit on the Veterans Committee.
It’s easy to forget how things were because free agency is now around 35 years old. Prior to that, players were locked into a certain team and usually at a certain price. Their only options were to take it or quit the sport. A few players (Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax for example), tested the system but even they eventually made some concessions. It wasn’t until the players got organized under Marvin Miller that things began to improve, at least for the players.
Of course one man’s gain can be another man’s loss, and with free agency, we have the system we have now where players with multi-million contracts jump ship for an even richer take. The Major League Baseball Players Association has also take some heat for acting disassociated because of its resistance to drug testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
In short though, what I should have said was that I thought Miller got the shaft. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would argue otherwise and it was wrong to make my opinion appear as fact when there are several examples to the contrary.
Sorting out the Oakland Athletics’ stadium messWith the Oakland Athletics’ move to Fremont, Calif. now off the table, ownership has its eyes set on San Jose, Calif. The problem with San Jose is that it’s smack dab in the middle of the San Francisco Giants' territory, and the noise has begun to block any kind of move. Most recently, the minor league San Jose Giants have helped form a group, called Stand for San Jose, that will look to oppose any type of public funding for a stadium for the Athletics. The San Jose Giants are 25 percent owned by the San Francisco Giants.
It’s the usual (and valid) argument. Why spend a bunch of money on a baseball stadium when schools, police and the fire department are hurting? Traffic and the environmental impact of the stadium are also being questioned.
In the meantime, the city of Oakland is trying to stay in the mix and is unveiling a waterfront ballpark site to try to entice the team to stay. They city has agreed to provide the land, parking and any infrastructure upgrades while MLB and the Athletics would be responsible for building the stadium. Still, it looks like Oakland might be too late to the party because A’s owner Lew Wolff appears set to move after he said the team had exhausted its options with Oakland. Coming in dead last in attendance won’t help Oakland’s cause either.
Eastern League restructures divisionsMinor League Baseball’s Eastern League has decided to do some shuffling now that the Richmond Flying Squirrels are being added to the mix. The league will now be split up into an Eastern and Western division beginning next year. I’m not familiar with the schedule for the teams, so I don’t know if teams play more games within their division or not. With a smaller travel budget, it makes sense to keep travel to a minimum and play teams that are closer.
Minor league owner in line to buy RangersTexas Rangers owner Tom Hicks has entered into exclusive negotiations with a group led by Myrtle Beach Pelicans and State College Spikes owner Chuck Greenberg to sell the team. While there aren't a lot of specifics as to terms, it appears that Greenberg would take over as the managing partner while Nolan Ryan, the team’s president, would remain in his role. Previously, Hicks had expressed an interest in keeping control over the team but it looks like the chances of that happening are pretty slim.
Chuck Greenberg is a Pittsburgh-based attorney who was also the managing partner of the Altoona Curve. My guess is that with this pedigree, he already has the blessing of the league and the owners so once a price is settled, things should move rather quickly.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.