So Charlie Finley won't have baseball to kick around any more - and Washingtonians have seen another large flicker of hope snuffed out. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn will understand our lack of enthusiasm for Denver's coup; once again baseball has opted for virgin territory instead of the area that always supported it just a bit more than it deserved.
All evidence suggests Finley was not dealing a final vengeful blow at Kuhn by ignoring offers from Washington and selling his A's to Anwar Sadat's buddy, Marvin Davis. As usual, a millionaire who remained mostly silent won the day against big-talking and under-financed Washington buyers.
Finley apparently got his asking price - $12.5 million - and Davis and Denver got what amounts to perhaps a third-year expansion franchise - a team once as fine as all but a few that ever played the game but reduced to its present state by its owner, its players and the commissioner of baseball.
Finley had an extraordinary ability to build a team, with World Series winners in '72 , '73 and '74, and an extraordinary inability to maintain it. He lost Catfish Hunter through an inexcusable blunder and the heart of the team when the players got greedy and Kuhn suddenly would not allow him to play by the rules of baseball. Also, Finley's powers to antoganize seem limitless.
Unless the Oakland-Alamedia County Coliseum, Inc., can hold the slippery fellow to the final 10 years of his lease, Finley will be out of baseball - and Washington's chances of getting another team in the near future will grow ever dimmer.
How the geography of sport has changed since Bob Short hustled the Senators off to Texas after the '71 season. Could anyone back then imagine that Portland, Ore., would one day field the best pro basketball team in the land? That players would one day tell owners what to do with their bats and shoulder pads - and win?
That Kuhn, "in the best interest of baseball," could tell a desperate owner who he could sell and to whom? Vida Blue has established a record tht may never be approached - most times trade held up by commissioner (2). Is he a Cincinnati Red or a Denver Orange Sox?
Orange Sox? Yes, folks, that is one of the proposed names callers suggested to a Denver radio station, a reference to the "Orange Crush" defense of the NFL Broncos. Another caller suggested Denver Miracles because, he said, "I think it would take a miracle to get Charlie Finley out of baseball".
In truth, Finley's exit from baseball was pretty well determined the first week in June, when he did something an owner does only as the final act of survival: lower ticket prices
He lowered ticket prices only for mid-week games, but the Friday after the cut - June 3 to be exact - showed the A's never would survive in Oakland.
Finley had shown the fans one of the few generous acts of his baseball life on the Bay - and the team, considered hopeless before the season began, was coming off a road trip flushed with victory and a record near .500.
The paid attendance: 3.030.
"It's all Finley's fault," one longtime observer said. "Why? Let's use this as an example: the Raiders project themselves as the people's team, this is Finley's team, and he always lets you know it."
Finley gave the Oakland area what most owners never do - an exquisite team. But he never got involved with the area. He was too distant in Chicago, and too concerned with himself to give proper attention to promotion. Literally his ticket staff was the last to know about the cut in ticket prices.
"He caused Reggie Jackson to say, 'He took the little boy out of me,'" said one fan. "The man simply has no personal involvement. There's never been a fan appreciation night.A while back someone said to me: 'Our Yankees are going to beat your A's,' I said: "Your Yankees are our A's."
Like Finley, oilman Davis, 52, is a tycoon who sometimes resembles a typhoon. An associate insists "Marvin can make a $10 million decision in 30 minutes" and that it is not unusual for him to pick up the phone and chat with such as Egyptian president Sadat.
Davis has Denver roots, having moved to the city 25 years ago. The wire services report he shuns publicity about his wealth but entertains Hamboyantly. Once he flew in bagpipers from Scotland for a party.
And he is larger than Finley, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds.
"In life," he said, "you get stereotyped in business. You do something motivated for business. Sometimes, you want to do something for fun when you're 52 years old.
"And there's a saying that when men get older the toys get more expensive."