Imagine your San Francisco Giants playing in a concrete, domed monster.
Instead of looking at the beautiful shores of McCovey Cove, right field would show high catwalks, a Teflon dome, and a bland concrete wall. Giants games at the Suncoast Dome might average 10,000 fans on a good night, with the team struggling to reach .500 year-after-year.
Such was almost the reality for the Giants.
There almost was no AT&T Park. There almost was no Barry Bonds. There almost was no magical 2010 World Series run.
Watch this YouTube video, and you will see what almost was for your San Francisco Giants. The video is from CBS' 60 Minutes: Field of Dreams from 1992.
Enjoy and we'll talk after...
From my understanding, baseball is unique in that it is not considered a business. Thus, Major League Baseball owners can vote whether or not to stop a sale, regardless of the highest bidder, which was the case in 1992.
Fortunately for the Giants, this kept them in San Francisco. The National League owners voted 9-4 to keep the Giants in San Francisco and stop their sale to a Tampa Bay ownership group.
This opened the door for Peter McGowan to purchase the Giants for $15 million less than the Tampa Bay group. Tampa Bay was infuriated.
For those of you who hate the Los Angeles Dodgers, consider this. They voted to keep the Giants in San Francisco so their rivalry would not be tarnished, so you can thank the Dodgers, indirectly, for AT&T Park being built.
Other teams that voted in favor of blocking the sale were the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.
To further show their firm grounding in San Francisco for generations to come, the Giants signed Barry Bonds to be the face of the franchise. Bonds would go on to break baseball's all-time home run record and was a legend in San Francisco.
Then Interim Commissioner Bud Selig supported keeping the Giants in San Francisco, and embraced letters from San Franciscans which said fans enjoyed watching Willie Mays play when they were children.
Giants fans should also thank Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes for deciding that baseball is not a business like everything else. He allowed the above process to take place, to the chagrin of Sen. Connie Mack III.
You can read more about this here.
Here is what Sen. Mack said about the process that kept the Giants in San Francisco.
"By preventing the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay, major league baseball has shown that it is more interested in preserving its sacred monopoly than allowing the free market to work."
Somehow, Giants fans do not care.
Sorry Mr. Mack, you're wrong. In this case, that sacred monopoly built one of the best stadiums in baseball in one of the most spectacular vistas in the country.
Regardless of what Connie Mack's grandson said, or what the man in the white shirt said, the Giants staying in San Francisco was the best thing for baseball.
All you have to do is show these two suits the gem on the corner of Third and King in downtown San Francisco. I bet they changed their opinions now.
The ownership group led by Peter McGowan obviously had baseball fans in mind when they bought the Giants and saved them from what was then the Suncoast Dome. Now, Tropicana Field, that domed structure is considered one of the worst venues in baseball.
And that was what your San Francisco Giants would have called home. Take a look at the difference...
I usually like to back up my opinions with facts and statistics, but in this case, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Which ballpark is better?
Here are your numbers that should suffice.
10,000 luke-warm fans in a domed monster versus 42,000 passionate, rabid fans where it is always "magic inside." I think baseball would rather have the latter.
In some cases, the free market economy just doesn't work.
Fans probably would much rather see a splash home run than, well, nothing.
Thank you Bud and Judge Holmes for giving us the jewel on San Francisco Bay.
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Information from The New York Times contributed to this article.
Tropicana Field: By EaglesFanInTampa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
AT&T Park: By Bspangenberg (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons