Bud Selig accomplished and bungled a great many things during his tenure. He murdered, bagged and dragged the sport out of French Canada, reanimated the corpse and delivered a happy baby franchise to Washington. He kept upwind of PEDs while they made the sport gobs of money and swooped in to force labor concessions once the tide turned on them. He made a lot of owners filthy rich, quadrupling the value of their investments on the backs of fans, who, for the price of their firstborn, can now watch their team from anywhere they live.
Perhaps the feat for which I’ll be most thankful is Bud’s fantastic punt on the issue of Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff’s intentions to move his team to the South Bay.
It’s a boot that’d make Ray Guy weep.
Five years ago this week, Selig convened a “special commission” to resolve a dispute between the A’s and their cross-Bay “rival” San Francisco Giants over Wolff’s desire to move the team to San Jose, where he could feasibly bathe in venture capital cash funneled through startup entrepreneurs who would tag a selfie of them, a $12.50 organic stadium burrito and $15 local microbrew #greencollarbaseball.
The Giants would very much like to keep that crowd riding North on Cal Train and not paying attention to baseball in the picturesque confines of AT&T Park.
Presently, Wolff shares the worst stadium in baseball, the O.Co Coliseum, with the NFL’s Raiders and an intelligent fanbase perennially ranking in the bottom third of league wide attendance.
Oakland’s slow transformation to hip just hasn’t landed the sort of South Bay progressive gentry who would help him build a new stadium with whimsical-sounding vendors like “Out at Wurst” or “Butter me Up Popcorn.”
The Giants have no intention of helping Wolff out.
With their claim to the “territorial rights” for Santa Clara County, encoded in an agreement between San Francisco and previous A’s owners, the Giants would just as soon see Wolff stay in Oakland, or, better yet, move his team to Montreal or Portland as opposed to horning in on their property.
Thus Selig’s commission, with the options of telling Wolff to screw off and figure it out or the Giants to make do with a modified arrangement, has stayed silent, producing no reports, figures or statements.
In FIVE years.
It’s probably a political triumph for Selig in that he doesn’t have to make a decision that would screw either owner, a real triumph for the Giants and a real loss for Wolff.
Another winner emerges in the arrangement, though: the broke baseball fan.
Few things are as advantageous to him (Read: Me) as a team struggling with attendance problems and apathetic ownership. Confines that scare good, topsider-and-sweater wearing crowds away like scary non-club approved churro vendors and highly aggressive scalpers in the parking lot earn a nod of approval from the humble.
The upside to tarped-over seats, spotty trash pickup and a slightly dangerous vibe conveyed by the fully encaged walkway leading from the BART stop to the Coliseum is very affordable tickets.
The cheap seats for $17 on the team’s website and can be had at a considerable discount on the secondhand market—a mid-April tilt with the Astros runs about $6, or triple the sum for parking, the most expensive part of your day at O.Co. Ignoring your girlfriend to keep score is vastly easier when you can buy her multiple doses of cotton candy without going into hock.
In each of the last two years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting to the Coliseum for the playoffs when my Detroit Tigers came to town. Even when filled to close to capacity I’d only pay about $40 apiece for cheap seats—or about a tenth of what that seat would fetch on the secondhand market in famously affluent downtown Detroit.
You get the picture.
So, as he awkwardly apologizes his way into retirement, I’d like to thank Bud Selig for his inaction on this matter. His lack of leadership, inability to assertively disappoint one or the other powerful interests and general cowardice is a true boon to the dirtbag.
Long may Selig’s example reign, if not his physical manifestation.