Stalemate between Athletics, Giants is a game of legal poker

Legal poker

The stalemate is so stale, the one between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, that it somehow became big news when someone asked Bud Selig last week whether the A’s might move out of the Bay Area and the commissioner basically said, “Beats me. Go ask the A’s.”

The A’s haven’t given up on San Jose. The Giants haven’t given up on blocking the move. Selig hasn’t given up on brokering a deal, three years into the peace talks.

Selig had better be wary. The A’s and Giants each pitched their cases to a committee of owners last week, and there is talk that Selig might actually impose a solution sometime this season.

If he does not, the courts might impose one for him. Frank McCourt got the upper legal hand by taking the Dodgers into bankruptcy before Selig could strip him of the franchise, and the A’s and/or the city of San Jose might try a similar tactic.

Selig and his attorneys are not too worried. Baseball’s antitrust exemption empowers the league to control franchise relocation, and that could be game over for the A’s.

However, if a court decides to let the A’s make their case rather than throw it out, that could force league attorneys to decide whether to surrender or put Selig on the witness stand. Once McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers, the league granted him enormous settlement concessions to ensure Selig would not testify.

Freaky Friday

Kerry Wood ended his career in storybook fashion Friday. He called it quits on his terms, before his home crowd, with a strikeout of his final batter and his son rushing out of the dugout for a hug.

Wood loved pitching for the Chicago Cubs, took whatever money he could get to stay there this season, and the Wrigley Field faithful serenaded him with respect and appreciation.

Wood is one of two pitchers in major league history to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game. The other, Roger Clemens, also was in action Friday.

Clemens, who ended his spectacular career as a half-season mercenary, was a defendant in federal court, charged with perjury, his freedom at risk. He told Congress he never used steroids; the trainer who testified Friday says he injected Clemens with them.

We’re pretty sure Wood would not have traded that ending for the seven Cy Young awards Clemens won. We wonder whether Clemens would have traded his awards for unconditional respect and admiration.

Yu can pitch too

The Texas Rangers dumped the ace of their back-to-back World Series teams, C.J. Wilson, so they could afford to spend $105 million on Japanese import Yu Darvish.

Amid international fanfare, Darvish has delivered. The Rangers are atop the American League West again, and Darvish is 6-1 with a 2.60 earned-run average.

Yet the team with the best record in the AL, through Friday, is the Baltimore Orioles. They signed Wei-Yin Chen from Taiwan for $11 million, amid a decided absence of fanfare.

Chen is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA. His ratio of strikeouts to walks is superior to that of Darvish, as is his ratio of walks and hits to innings pitched (WHIP).

— Bill Shaikin

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