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S.F.'s bid is quite puzzling

So many questions arise with the announcement of the new, improved San Francisco ownership group assembled to save the Giants.

The one that comes immediately to mind, though, is "What the hell?"

As in:

"What the hell took so long?" "What the hell are we supposed to think about a group so willing to let George Shinn carry their water for so long?" "What the hell makes these guys think $95-million is worth more than $115-million?" "What the hell do they think makes them more attractive than the Tampa guys anyway?" "What the hell do they do about a stadium?" And the old standard, "What the hell do these guys know about running a ballclub, anyway?"

Peter Magowan, the ultimate head bagger at Safeway Stores and point man for Ownership Group II, gave all the right assurances Monday after dropping the group's offer to buy the Giants on National League president Bill White's desk. You may take Magowan at his word, and at your peril. He seems genuine enough in his desire to make this work, and if he pulls it off, he may as well be the hero.

A little cold hard realism, though, is in order at this point. It is awfully late in the game to be crying the state motto, "Eureka!"

The locals stalled, they whined, they propped up straw men, they bickered over a price that already had been set, they did everything but produce actual money from local people. The voters, frankly, are not amused, especially acting commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox owner/majority whip Jerry Reinsdorf. They want the Giants in St. Petersburg, and they are in unparalleled position to get what they want.

But let's never mind the exigencies of vote-counting for the moment. Let's ask those salient questions and see what we come up with, shall we?

What did take so long? The locals, especially Walter Shorenstein, the guy who has his office atop Bob Lurie's office, kept thinking they could low-ball a bid past a group of men and women who can hear a dollar bill hit the snow. Even this bid is low-ball, and as such an almost certain loser.

Why did men of such means need George Shinn anyway if they really wanted to buy and save the Giants? The only answer that makes sense is, they didn't. This was just their way of throwing Mayor Jordan a bone that presumably he would pay off with future favors.

Why do these guys think $95-million will get it done? Well, either they don't think so and are satisfied with the empty gesture, or they are so mired in that peculiar form of San Francisco arrogance they think the owners will approve their bid based on the fact that they are San Francisco and St. Pete isn't.

Peter Magowan's heart is in the right place, or at least seems to be. He was on the Giants board of directors for years, so he apparently cares. So good luck on him if he really can make two plus two equal 13 and pull this preposterous deal off. Weirder things have happened, so what the hell?

But that's where we started, and where we always end up, too. Which is why, finally, this looks like way too little and impossibly late, again.