Welcome to the new business paradigm of Major League Baseball ownership, which was proudly on full display at the 2013 trade deadline.
The rules of that road are simple and easy to understand– if everything is going extremely well off the field, you really don't have to do much of anything about what's happening on the field. Whether you're winning or losing or standing still.
Just be safe, do nothing, and continue depositing the unending reams of cash coming in simply because you own an MLB team.
No team embodied that philosophy more at the July 31st trade deadline than the San Francisco Giants (although the Philadelphia Phillies finished a close second). What it comes down to is this: business is great so why rock a boat that's full of happy, paying customers.
And for some reason this makes Giants fans happy. Throughout the coherence-challenged world of sports talk radio, and the sometimes endlessly sappy blogosphere, San Francisco fans joyously celebrated that Giants ownership wisely kept its 47-59, last place, 10 games out of 1st place, MLB 6th worse run differential (-59) team intact.
Apparently the fanbase is deliriously that the Giants made no moves at the trade deadline ("What will we do if they trade Javier Lopez?", shrieked a local sports radio host). And Giants ownership can sit back and smile as their plan to wallow in mediocrity gets rave reviews.
Excuse me if I don't open a tall can of PBR (or, in a much more likely scenario, a bottle of Paul Bara Champagne). It's just that it's hard to get excited about 2014 just because Tim Lincecum (15-26, 1.419 WHIP the past two seasons) is likely to be re-signed for two more years.
It's also difficult to comprehend an organization with one of the worst minor league systems in the game not doing anything to improve it. You know, for the future.
But with AT&T Park "sold out" every home game; with TV and radio revenue being deposited in the bank by the truckload; and with tight control of the local media to ensure the positive spin keeps spinning, why would the Giants do anything?
Normally you'd say, "Well, because they want to win more baseball games and get to the post season". But in the economic realpolitik of 2013 baseball there's minimal economic incentive to rebuild a team, or expand payroll, or trade players with whom the fans have inexplicably bonded simply in the name of (maybe) getting better.
The Buster Posey jerseys are selling off the rack, national TV payoffs will only increase with every contract cycle, and people apparently can't put enough ballpark concession food products into their systems.
Two sobering truths: 1) Apparently, there is no Santa Claus. And, 2) the San Francisco Giants economic machine will now continue to grow without being dependent on winning or losing baseball games.
Top 3 Indications The San Francisco Giants Have Kissed Off the 2013 Season
1. Brett Pill was called up for the 6th time over the past three years (79 games, .719 OPS, .246 BA). I know, I know… he got some hits in his first two games back. So all of a sudden, after 8 years in the Giants system, he's become a great hitter. Right?
2. Giants TV broadcasts will now feature triple the number of cute, funny, or weird fan and ball dude camera shots shown per game. And when the team is down by 10 or more runs, expect whole innings to be nothing but extended shots of fans in the stands and various ball dudes with funny commentary.
3. Count the number of times you hear the following on local TV or radio: "Wow, I just can't get used to seeing Brian Wilson in Dodger blue." When you get to 100, feel free to pop open a whole case of PBR and eat your weight in garlic fries.