Not so fast. The A's are denying that anything is imminent, and the Giants are still screaming bloody murder.
No other two-team market has territorial rights assigned. The A's gave the Giants the rights to Santa Clara County in 1993, when the Giants had their own stadium vote on the ballot in San Jose. The Giants insist that when they financed AT&T Park, all agreements with lenders were based on the team's current territorial rights, including corporate-rich Silicon Valley.
"Those long-term commitments wouldn't be there without that," Magowan said. "Investors would not have taken the risk if there was belief that our chief competitor could create a shiny new stadium right in the heart of our fan base."
Well, that's real sweet and everything but nothing lasts forever. Let us imagine for a moment that the money keeps leaving Oakland and keeps moving to San Jose. Should San Jose, an hour away from AT&T Park, be forever disqualified from Major League status regardless of how many people live within 15 miles of downtown?
Magowan is absolutely right about one thing: the investors took a risk. There was never any legal document guaranteeing the Giants territorial rights in San Jose for eternity. Territorial rights are granted on a whim by the owners, and they can be un-granted on a whim.
Of course, this being the Land of the Free and Home of the Lawyers, it might not be quite so simple. Ultimately, though, MLB's bylaws trump the Giants' investors, and I believe those bylaws allow the owners to take San Jose away from the Giants if they like.
Everything in the Universe doesn't find its natural balance. We might never see a third team in the Tri-State Area, as much sense as that might make. But not allowing some imaginary team to take up residence in Brooklyn or northern New Jersey isn't anything like not letting an existing franchise move from one spot in the Bay Area to another spot ... a spot more distant from the Giants than the old spot.
Frankly, I'm sick of this whole affair. The Athletics are a sick franchise, and if getting them healthy means making the Giants' lot marginally more difficult, it seems to me a move that MLB has to make. In the best interest of Baseball.