The Oakland Athletics are the red-headed stepchild of the Bay Area. They are the New York Mets to the San Francisco Giants’ New York Yankees. They are the Los Angeles Clippers to the Giants’ Lakers. The difference, of course, is that since moving in to the Oakland Coliseum in 1968, the A’s have gone on to win four World Series titles—three more than the Giants.
Now, with a decrepit stadium and a team in the gutter, the A’s and owner Lew Wolff are looking to move to San Jose. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Thursday that MLB will likely grant the A’s request, despite the fact that the move would encroach on the Giants territorial rights, regardless of the fact that San Jose is indeed further away from San Francisco than Oakland.
So how will the A’s moving to San Jose affect the Giants?
My guess would be “barely.” Admittedly, I do not know close to everything there is to know about athletic territory politics. Apparently the Giants are concerned, since they have invested a sizable amount of money in their single-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants. Can the two teams coexist? Probably. And whatever attendance the San Jose Giants are attracting is unlikely to be significantly decimated should the A’s move south. Major league and minor league baseball have substantially different marketing strategies: One markets the game, the players and the grandeur, the other markets the “family experience.”
Such a minor move should not affect the Giants’ fanbase, either, which should be the most important consideration. The San Francisco 49ers are looking to move into a new stadium in Santa Clara in 2015. Much of the 49er fanbase lives in Santa Clara county. The same could be said about Giants fans.
The issue, of course, is that fandom does not generate solely from geographic residence. Just because the A’s (the red-headed stepchild) will be moving into town will not make them the “favorite son” of the Bay Area. A’s fans will be A’s fans. Giants fans will be Giants fans. At the end of the day, any territorial minor league rights will be handsomely paid for by Wolff and Co., and the A’s will be able to downsize their rodent exterminator core in place for the Oakland Coliseum.
The San Francisco Giants are the big brother. They (at least now) win the championships. They have the payroll. They win the fans. They are in control of Bay Area baseball.
So let the red-headed stepchild get a new house.