Can Sacramento become a real player vying to lure the A's to the state capital?
It's been a dream for decades, but it remains a fantasy for now.
The A's are trying desperately to improve their bottom line by moving from struggling Oakland to tech-rich San Jose. The Giants are trying desperately to block them because they don't want to lose well-heeled fans in Santa Clara County or their Silicon Valley corporate partners.
It's an intense feud between leaders of both teams who used to be partners but are now enemies seeking to sway Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to their side.
Many fans sneer at the idea that the Giants were awarded San Jose as part of their "territory" by baseball many years ago. Why don't the A's just sue to move there?
They might still, but when you become a major league owner, you cede some rights to join a partnership of owners governed by Selig. Baseball is a monopoly with a federal antitrust exemption; in that monopoly, Selig rules.
The longer the feud grinds on, the more you wonder if the A's owners will simply give up and sell the team. They have tried so hard to leave Oakland, they've alienated an already small fan base. In 2011, the A's had the lowest attendance in baseball.
Meanwhile, across the bay, the Giants sold out every game in 2011 while basking in the glory of a 2010 World Series title.
It's an incongruous picture given that just last season the A's got huge publicity while being featured in the Oscar-nominated film "Moneyball."
Brad Pitt played A's general manager Billy Beane in a tale set in the early 2000s, when the A's used statistical models to win on the cheap.
"Moneyball" notwithstanding, the real story of the A's now is one of largely nameless players toiling in a cavernous football stadium with chipped concrete and water stains.
In some media accounts, the Giants are the villains portrayed as selfishly standing in the way of an A's move to San Jose.
Why not just agree to compensation between the two teams and let the A's move?
It's a simplistic question that overlooks complex reality. First, the A's are not poor. The money owner behind the team is John Fisher, whose family founded the Gap stores. Forbes magazine lists his net worth at more than $1 billion and he is known to be one of the wealthiest owners in baseball.
Despite this, the A's by virtue of their low payroll are subsidized through millions in revenue sharing checks from MLB.
In an added twist, Fisher's family used to be part of the ownership group of the Giants. These people all know each other and travel in the same social circles. It's a delicate situation.
You wonder how ugly it could get when and if Selig takes a side.
Say what you will about the Giants, but they've been a model franchise. They paid for their own stadium, offer a fantastic fan experience and are community leaders.
If Selig chooses the A's, he would be siding with the team that does the bare minimum over the team that goes the extra mile.
There also are serious questions about the A's. Their fan base has shrunk so much, would fans magically show up if they move to San Jose?
There is no easy answer, but if Selig upholds the Giants' territorial rights and blocks an A's move to San Jose, Sacramento could rejoin the conversation.
Fisher and his more visible partner, Lew Wolff, bought the A's in 2005 for the bargain price of $180 million. Last year, the Houston Astros sold for $615 million and the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to sell for more than $1 billion.
As they did with the old Montreal Expos, MLB owners could buy the A's from Fisher and Wolff. Baseball could try to make it work in Oakland or Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson could try to build on the momentum of keeping the Kings in town.
It's just a pipe dream now, but if the A's are prevented from moving to San Jose, Johnson should pick up the phone.