Raiders in San Francisco makes sense -- for right amount of money


Raiders in San Francisco makes sense -- for right amount of money

The hot news dump of the day is that the San Francisco Giants are “considering” the conversion of their ballpark to the home of Black Hole 2.0.

And by “considering,” we mean trying to figure out how much money they can squeeze out of Mark Davis’ claws to let them tear up the ball field 10 times. Or, more practically, whether they can allow the ball field to be torn up a minimum of three times for a ten-figure rent check.

For starters, this isn’t the first time the subject has been broached. The Raiders discussed the idea of playing at AT&T while the Coliseum would have been renovated several years ago, and Davis was considered to be bullish on the idea, according to two sources. Those renovations never happened, as events in Los Angeles and later Las Vegas intervened. It is not known how far along the Giants were in these discussions or whether they were involved at all.

Second, the number of potential options are almost nonexistent, as more than one source has said that San Diego is a complete non-starter in the eyes of the NFL with the Rams and Chargers up the road. Both teams are marketing heavily in San Diego and don’t want their efforts damaged by even a year of the Raiders.

Third, nobody -- including the league -- is very keen on Santa Clara except in a disaster scenario, which a deal at AT&T would avert.

And fourth, Oakland is still considered by most people around the process to be the most viable result, with a bit of lawyering between the city and the team the only real obstacle to a temporary cessation of hostilities.

But if Oakland is truly out of the picture, let’s consider the logistics.

The 2019 regular season will open September 5, a Thursday night which is traditionally reserved for the home opener of the Super Bowl champion. So no Raiders then, we can safely say ...

Thus, the season actually begins on September 8, which means that conceivably the Raiders could play their first three games on the road and then have their “home” opener in either London or Mexico City on the 29th, which also happens to be the final day of Major League Baseball’s regular season. They could also be among the first teams to have their bye week in Week 4, so assuming the Giants are not a playoff team (which is awfully safe even with Pat Venditte), the Raiders wouldn’t have to play a regular season game at AT&T until after the Giants season is over.

In addition, the Raiders could play at least one, if not both, of their exhibition games at neutral sites, which would mean they would only need AT&T for eight rather than 10 dates. That way, their cleats would only foul the hallowed grounds of the National League West’s last-place team twice at most and zero times at best, and Davis wouldn’t have his delicates in a clot over the shame of paying for more infield dirt.
Other possibilities, though less likely, include the Giants and Dodgers swapping their season-ending series so that the Raiders could have their home opener on the 29th, or the Giants swapping their last series with Colorado so that the Raiders could open on Thursday the 26th. Those are longshots, though, and would have to be cleared with Major League Baseball and its players association, if for no better reason than the optic of conciliation.
So that’s the logistics -- maximum money, minimum damage to the pasture of the real cash cow.
Now the psychic issue -- football on said hallowed grounds. Nice try, but no sell. The Giants have taken rent money from Vince McMahon for his XFL team. That means they would take money from nearly anyone as long as the amount meets the current industry standard of “all we can grab.” And the Giants are not averse to taking money.
Finally, there are the aesthetics of Raiders fans at Third And King v. the snobbery of your San Francisco sporting intellgentsia. Again, this is a minimal issue; they can tailgate on the ferries from Alameda and Oakland, or on BART, or if they’re really elitist, on the limo from Concord. There will be Parking Lot A for a precious few, but it might take some convincing just to get Raider fans to give the Giants the money they already are paying to cover Mark’s lease payments.
In short, this is not a difficult do logistically, financially or emotionally, unless the fans rise as one (or, in case there is only one fan left) and say they will not watch the Raiders play as the home team in San Francisco.
But as a cynical matter, Davis surely must regard the 2019 season as something to get out of the way before the fun of owning the team resumes in 2020. In that way, he’ll be a bit like Dean Spanos, killing time as the cost of doing business, only the likelihood of the Raiders winning the AFC West next year is a lot less than that of the Los Angeles Chargers winning it this year. Jon Gruden might complain about a potential competitive disadvantage, but having eight of the last 12 games at home would mean his objections would be effectively muted. That, plus the fact that the team he would bring to bear in 2019 would still be at least a light year from playoff contention, would nullify his objections almost as much as Mark Davis saying, “You make $10 million a year, play with pain.”
So yes, it can be done, for the right amount of money (the Raiders were willing to give $7.5 million to the city of Oakland, so Larry Baer would surely be looking at $10 million as a starting point for negotiations, or in the alternative the parking and concessions, making the Raiders a cash-poor team yet one more year). And if either Giants or Raiders fans find the concept objectionable, well, I think we can honestly figure that if the fans ever figured into this at any point, the Raiders wouldn’t be in the position they’re in today -- homeless, desperate, and willing to take a short-term punch in the face for a long-term home.

Giants, A's to play pair of exhibition games ahead of 2020 MLB season

Giants, A's to play pair of exhibition games ahead of 2020 MLB season

It turns out there will be a preview for the Bay Bridge Series in 2020.

The Giants and A's will play two exhibition games against each other next week, with each hosting one of the contests.

[RELATED: MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season]

Coronavirus forced a reduction of the 2020 regular season to just 60 games, but the rival squads still will play their normal six-game season series, with three games in San Francisco from August 14-16 and in Oakland September 18-20.

Although fans won't be in attendance for either the exhibition or regular-season contests between the Giants and A's in 2020, the crosstown rivalry likely will bring an added intensity to the matchups.

For many fans, it'll just be nice to have some live Bay Area baseball back on the airwaves.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

It's extremely common to hear about a player opting out in baseball. Stars have often had opt-out clauses for the final year of their deals, and in recent years many have given themselves the ability to opt out after just a year or two of a massive contract. At the end of every spring, non-roster invitees opt out to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. 

But this season, those two words take on a different meaning. 

Under a March agreement reached by MLB and the Players Association, high-risk players can opt out of the 2020 because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.

On the first day of the week MLB was set to return, four players opted out. Here's a rundown of where the list currently stands as of July 10.

Mike Leake (Diamondbacks starting pitcher)

The 32-year-old was the first to publicly make his intentions known. Leake's agent told reporters that the right-hander "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family." There has been some speculation that Leake had family concerns; his father was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and that's in part why he ended up close to home with the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals first baseman)

Zimmerman is exactly the type of player you would think of when it comes to guys who had a difficult decision to make in recent weeks. He's 35 and now is a part-time player, and he's set for life financially and got his ring last October. In a statement put out by his agency, he made it clear this is about concerns for his family, which includes a mother with multiple sclerosis:

Joe Ross (Nationals starting pitcher)

Ross, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who is the younger brother of Tyson, also opted out June 29. He did not immediately release a statement. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman and Ross decided "not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. We are 100 percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Ian Desmond (Rockies outfielder)

The 34-year-old announced his decision at the end of a series of Instagram posts that examined injustices in baseball and society. It was a powerful statement, and one you should read in full here:

View this post on Instagram

On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Tyson Ross (free agent starting pitcher)

It was a bit of a surprise when Ross was released by the Giants last week. As a veteran who could start or come out of the bullpen, he seemed like a good fit for what they were building in March, and an even better fit in a season with no true five-man rotation. But this seems to explain the decision: 

David Price (Dodgers Pitcher)

Price announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season on social media during the holiday weekend. The southpaw didn't get specific on the reasoning behind it, but said the decision was in the "best interest of my health and my family's health." 

Felix Hernandez (Braves pitcher)

Another former Cy Young award winner has decided not to play during the 2020 MLB season.

Felix Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young while with the Seattle Mariners, won't suit up for the Atlanta Braves this season, he agent tweeted Saturday night.

After spending the first 15 seasons of his career with the Mariners, Hernandez signed a minor-league contract with Atlanta this offseason. He will turn 35 next April, when the 2021 MLB season is expected to start.

Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder)

Markakis on Monday morning decides to opt out of the 2020 season, the Atlanta Braves announced. 

This comes after Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive, which was a big factor in the veteran's decision. Markakis, 36, hit .285 with nine homers last season for Atlanta.

Hector Noesi (Pirates pitcher)

Noesi on Wednesday opted out of the 2020 season, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced.

Noesi, 33, went 0-3 and posted an 8.46 ERA across 12 appearances with the Miami Marlins last season.

Buster Posey (Giants catcher)

The Giants catcher became the biggest name to opt out of the MLB season to date, announcing Friday he won't play in 2020. Posey and his wife just adopted twin girls who were born prematurely last week, and he cited their health as his primary concern.

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months, at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me," Posey said. From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision, from a family standpoint and feeling like I'm making a decision to protect our children, I feel like it was relatively easy."

Jordan Hicks (Cardinals Pitcher)

Jordan Hicks was originally planned to miss a chunk of time in the 2020 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June of 2019. But he's also a Type 1 Diabetic which as Belleville News-Democrat reporter Jeff Jones says, could lead to complications from coronavirus.