Peter Gammons: San Francisco and the courting of Giancarlo Stanton

As of the morning of Monday, December 4, we still don’t know whether the Marlins preferred the offer for Giancarlo Stanton from the Cardinals or the Giants, or whether or not the Dodgers were preparing to at least shadow box.

What we do know is that Gary Denbo has done a remarkable job in his brief tenure with the Marlins in centering his new club’s wants, needs, and ideas. It isn’t easy. When Don Mattingly asked Derek Jeter why he fired most of a great front office baseball team, it turned out to be at the suggestion of David Samson, who was one of the problems in the first place. Denbo’s knowledge of all things in the Yankee organization reached into the draft, so at least he had ways to get information on the Giants’ top pick in 2017, Puerto Rican outfielder Heliot Ramos, about whom the current Miami scouting department had little, choosing a 20-year old high school pitcher instead.

What we also know is that Stanton made a strong impression on the Cardinals and Giants ownership. He knows he wants stability for the next ten years, which he never had in Miami, he listened, absorbed, exchanged concepts and was who he is, modest, authentic to his core.

We know there has to be adjustment to the contract if he discusses California, because of the difference in income tax rates. We know he’d like to play on a team dedicated to winning. Now, the Dodgers have worked diligently to get below the luxury tax threshold, and adding whatever he makes this season to the $176.4M already on the books requires some serious wiping clear of some bad existing contracts.

But understand this: while nights at AT&T Park can be cold and windy and while the Giants have a ways to go replenishing their roster to contention levels with Buster Posey and others looking at light at the end of their contracts, the San Francisco Giants are major financial players in major league baseball.

Major.

In the East, there is a fixation on the American League East, and the revenue potential of the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays. But if you are Mike Hazen in Arizona or Jeff Bridich in Colorado and you have teams that made the post-season in 2017, are lined with star players and could well get better in 2018, you realize the N.L. is no six lane expressway to October. Not with the Dodgers in L.A. Not with the Giants in the most expensive city in the country.

“Have you seen that development in San Francisco?” a National League general manager asked this week. “It makes Wrigleyville in Chicago look small.”

Let’s go back to 1989, when the Athletics and Giants were kings. Staying at the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel at Sansome and California streets in the business district, the morning run was either left turn toward The Wharf, or the right, which would take one along a waterside string of barren warehouses and wire fences threatening trespassers. Unable to get public funding like teams like the Yankees and Marlins, owner Peter Magowan financed Pacific Bell Park in place of those warehouses.

When the park opened in 2000, it was, indeed, a new century, with kayaks and fishing boats in the bay beyond right field, with seemingly everything but bullpens, ideas Magowan had learned from Larry Lucchino, who changed the sports world with Camden Yards, as well as Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Coor’s Field in Denver, and the Hundred House roof in Groton, Massachusetts. Public funding did help with the infrastructure, but he took on a massive debt service, and figured that when that debt service was paid off, there was the potential of a massive project that could fund a ballpark neighborhood goldmine. He, Larry Baer and his partners began studying such a project in 2008.

Well, the debt service was paid off in 2016, after the Giants had won three World Series in the decade. In weeks, it will be 2018, and the permits and red tape and politics are cleared, and in the first quarter next spring the building begins. And, remember, while the Giants finished last in 2017, they still drew 3,303,652 fans, third most in major league baseball behind the Dodgers and Cardinals. Betcha Giancarlo knows that.

The project involves four 24 floor towers off what used to be a parking lot. It will be multi-use, with 1.5-2M square feet of office space, retail, condominiums, apartments, parking garages, two large parks with considerable outdoor space on the waterfront. Essentially, they are building a high rent, mixed usage neighborhood where the ballpark meets San Francisco Bay. Down the street, the new home of the Golden State Warriors. All where warehouses sat, when Jose Canseco and Matt Williams were battling for The Bay.

Now, San Francisco is the most expensive city in the country. As the City natives explain it, the new, new giants of Silicon Valley want to move into the city. They come from M.I.T. and the University of Chicago and Berkeley and across the Pacific and want to live not in Cupertino, but in The City. There is Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber, and gradually Silicon Valley is morphing into a line from Green Street to San Jose.

Magowan brought Barry Bonds to Candlestick six years before Pac Bell opened. Now Larry Baer and the rest of Giants ownership are trying to bring Giancarlo Stanton to AT&T before those four 24 story towers of retail, office, dining, condos, parking garages and parks where golden retrievers can chase tennis balls are completed.

And then they can begin whatever renovation the ballpark requires after 20 years. One can be certain they’ll listen to any ideas Lucchino and Janet Marie Smith have to offer before they get their rightful place in Cooperstown. After all, Smith is now working with the Dodgers, and together they changed downtown San Diego into one of the most vibrant areas in California.

The East has the Yankees and the Red Sox, but the once-proud Mets and Orioles fight for every dollar. The West has the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres, and the sleeping giant of Seattle, all competing with the Dodgers, the Giants and dollars Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham never imagined.

Comments

  1. One of the most beautiful places to watch a baseball game, really would love to see if Stanton could hit the marina, would certainly get me in the park early for batting practice.

  2. I feel bad for Cardinal fans, they actually think they are going to have a shot this guy. The reality is that SF is clearly the best situation for Stanton, the team, the stadium, the culture, the city, the money. When you are worth 300m you think it benefits you more to be hanging out with the Busch family St. Louis, or rubbing elbows with Silicon valley CEOs and VCs. Given the right circumstance Gian could be a Billionaire within the next decade.

  3. Doug Kelly says:

    Peter: Someone should proofread your otherwise great stuff. There is a reference in here to “debut service” when you mean “debt” . . . . .also, it is Sansome, not Sansom, Street in downtown SF. I do some project work for Giants from time to time and have known their personnel for many years.

  4. Scott Langlois says:

    Great Stuff. As always Peter

  5. Glen Bergendahl says:

    This is a really well written piece by Peter McGowan.

  6. Mr. Gammons,
    Apart from the typos and spelling errors noted above, I would have expected much more clarity in your work. Case in point, the second paragraph in particular has no common thread, is all over the place, and after having read it 3 times, I still have no idea what you were trying to say. I realize that sportswriting is not on par with let’s say editorial sophistication, but I would think you would have more professional pride in your publications.

    • FrankTheTank says:

      What’s not to get? Denbo knew stuff in regards to the 2017 draft that people in the Marlins organization did not. This Michael Cook guy kinda seems like jerk btw.

  7. FranktheBlank,
    To review, the article is entitled, “San Francisco and the courting of Giancarlo Stanton” — not “why Derek Jeter fired most of a great front office baseball team at the suggestion of David Samson, who was one of the problems in the first place.”

    • FrankTheTank says:

      so your issue is the title now? There are so many other things to be annoyed with today, and you chose this as the thing that needed to be said? Well, perhaps, now that you have pointed these things out, we can all agree that you are smarter academic than Peter Gammons and better person than me. Which is pretty impressive, so congratulations.

      • He’s not worth it Frank, some people just live to diminish the work of others. He isn’t be first or won’t be the last.

      • No silly. Let me break it down for you. I LOVED the title — which led me to believe the article was going to be about “San Francisco and the courting of Giancarlo Stanton” — not “why Derek Jeter fired most of a great front office baseball team at the suggestion of David Samson, who was one of the problems in the first place,” nor even that “Denbo knew stuff in regards to the 2017 draft that people in the Marlins organization did not,” which you so alertly pointed out was PG’s intended message.

  8. No silly. Let me break it down for you. I LOVED the title — which led me to believe the article was going to be about “San Francisco and the courting of Giancarlo Stanton” — not “why Derek Jeter fired most of a great front office baseball team at the suggestion of David Samson, who was one of the problems in the first place,” nor even that “Denbo knew stuff in regards to the 2017 draft that people in the Marlins organization did not,” which you so alertly pointed out was PG’s intended message.

  9. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  10. What is it wit the high skool english teachers?

    I’ll say it for you, Peter – STFU!!!

  11. Take a deep breath boys…just enjoy a good baseball article…good grief…

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