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Don't expect a S.F. bid this week

The circuitous route San Francisco investors are taking to present an offer to save the Giants apparently won't wind through Pittsburgh.

There are no planned meetings through the weekend between baseball officials and representatives of the San Francisco group, said National League vice president Katy Feeney.

"The only things scheduled in Pittsburgh are the (National League Championship Series) baseball games between the Braves and the Pirates," Feeney said Thursday.

That means it will be early next week _ at the soonest _ before the San Francisco group makes a counteroffer to the $115-million bid made by a Tampa Bay group Aug. 6.

The group has promised an offer several times over the last month. On Tuesday, Mayor Frank Jordan said the bid would be handed to National League president Bill White today. Then Wednesday, Jordan retreated and said there would be a secret meeting "in the immediate future."

As for a published report in San Francisco that the delay was not because the group needed more time but was the result of White's busy schedule, Feeney said: "I'm not going to comment on that."

The latest delay means more than two months will have passed since the Tampa Bay group made a deal to buy the team, and more than a month will have passed since White announced he would accept a San Francisco bid.

In St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay bid leader Vincent Naimoli took news of the latest delay in relative stride.

"The sense I have is that the wheels of progress are grinding, although a little more slowly than we would like them to," Naimoli said from his Florida Suncoast Dome office.

Twice in recent weeks Naimoli threatened to withdraw the bid because of delays, but he indicated Thursday he would wait out the latest postponement. He said ached him at the Tampa Bay Lightning opening game Wednesday and offered heart-felt encouragement.

"As I've said all along, this is a team for the Tampa Bay area," Naimoli said. "There's an obligation to the people in the Tampa Bay area. I'm the last person who'd want to let anybody down.

"We can only wait so long. But at this point we do feel the wheels of progress are grinding."

Naimoli said he had heard several of the rumors making the rounds _ that the Ownership Committee was set to approve the Tampa Bay group as soon as today, that the full ownership planned a telephone meeting this weekend, that an absolute deadline had been set for the San Francisco bid _ but didn't know what to make of them.

"There's all kinds of interpretations," Naimoli said. "The only answer is, "I don't know.' "

And without a ruling on his bid, Naimoli will leave today on a weeklong non-baseball business trip to Japan. He owns a company involved in a joint venture with a Japanese firm concerning auto parts.

In other Giants-related news, the San Francisco group, according to a source quoted in Thursday's San Francisco Examiner, is fashioning a strategy that will allow it to promise a bid high enough to get baseball officials to eliminate the Tampa Bay offer, then negotiate a lower price.

What the San Francisco group is plotting amounts to a squeeze play in a game that has entered its third month.

The San Francisco strategy, according to the Examiner, is to push the Tampa Bay bid off the table, then make a better deal with present owner Bob Lurie.

The plan unfolds like this:

The group, led by North Carolina millionaire George Shinn, offers just enough to convince baseball officials to reject the $115-million Tampa Bay bid.

That forces Lurie, no longer bound by an exclusive agreement with the Tampa Bay group and faced with the prospect of staying at financially compromising Candlestick Park, to deal directly with the San Francisco group.

With no outside offer as a measuring stick, the value of the team decreases and the San Francisco group is able to negotiate a lower place.

"That's basically what we've been guessing they were doing," said Jack Critchfield, the Florida Progress chief and civic leader in the Tampa Bay baseball effort.

Critchfield said his sources in baseball had anticipated that strategy and "they continue to assure me that the only thing that's messing this up is timing."

He said the Tampa Bay group has been told by baseball sources that the best strategy is to "wait it out" for now. And, Critchfield said, efforts were under way in baseball Thursday to set a deadline for the decision, which has been pushed back several times.