Potential Savior of South Bay Baseball May Be Politically Conflicted

Categories: Business, Sports
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Tick, tick, tick...
As we noted earlier this week, hope springs eternal on Opening Day -- but the Oakland A's tenure in the East Bay may not be nearly as perpetual.

For those of you who were unaware that Oakland owner Lew Wolff and the South Bay -- a region that craves Major League sports franchises with the fervency of Ratso Rizzo's desire to go to Florida -- have been playing footsie under the table, here's some other news: The American League has instituted the Designated Hitter Rule!

For the first time in the South Bay's previously sisyphusian efforts to land a Big League ballclub, Major League Baseball has actually taken the step of forming a committee to explore possible future sites for a Bay Area stadium -- which San Jose-area folks are more than hoping will be in their backyard.

And one particular name on that committee induced a round of back-slapping among South Bay power brokers -- and, according to the Chronicle's Susan Slusser, a round of palms angrily hitting the table at San Francisco Giants headquarters: Corey Busch.

True, when Busch was a San Francisco Giants executive in the 1990s, he helped push through the team's claim to the South Bay that is now the major stumbling block to the Athletics relocating to the 408 area code. But South Bay folks aren't concerned about that. Busch's M.O. back then was moving a ballclub to the region, and many are hopeful he'll work toward it again. Busch declined to be interviewed for this story, noting that committee members have been instructed not to speak to the press.

"Corey understands the issue. Nobody understands the South Bay and the economic potential and the benefits to Major League Baseball better than Corey Busch," says Larry Stone, Santa Clara County's assessor and a major player in many, many failed attempts to land the region professional teams. "Corey understands the issues, perhaps even better than the commissioner [Bud Selig]."

Stone, incidentally, noted that the Oakland A's made much of their current mess themselves, when they gave their blessing to the Giants' claim of territorial rights in the South Bay without making such a move contingent upon the region approving a ballot measure which would have led to a South Bay stadium. Those ballot measures failed -- repeatedly -- and yet the Giants still retain the rights to the region.

And yet, before anointing Busch the savior of South Bay baseball, it's interesting to note that he may have just been tossed a political curveball. After working with the Giants, Busch served as the campaign co-chair of Barbara Boxer's initial run for the senate -- and he remains a supporter and friend of Boxer's.

So it was interesting to note that the senator has, oddly enough, waded into this Major League brouhaha with both barrels blazing. Boxer -- whose son, Doug, is a member of Oakland's Planning Commission -- wrote MLB a strongly worded letter stating her goal of keeping the A's in Oakland. Why this is a pet issue for her and what affect this could have on Busch's behavior we do not know. But as for Stone, he does not care.

"It doesn't matter. What the hell is she going to do?" he says. "If the federal government is going to build them a new ballpark in downtown Oakland, God bless 'em. That would be great. But what the hell is she going to do?" 

 
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