SAN FRANCISCO -- On the night the Giants filed a protest over their rained-out game at Wrigley Field, sports business consultant Andy Dolich joked about whether the decision would come faster than the one regarding the A's proposed move to San Jose.

"In juxtaposition to the 'blue-ribbon panel,' I hope there's not a 'tarp tribunal,' " Dolich cracked. "Maybe agronomists will be brought in from all around the country, and we'll have a decision by 2018."

Instead, the league ruled quickly and decisively in the plaintiff's favor, making the Giants the first team since 1986 to successfully overturn the results of a completed game.

That San Francisco still wound up losing the game when it resumed the day after the ruling ranks a footnote to the larger message: The Giants continue to flex their bureaucratic muscle as well as any team in baseball, having joined the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as teams with most-favored nation status.

When star catcher Buster Posey was hurt in a home-plate collision, the Giants called for a rule change and wound up altering the path runners had been taking to the plate for more than a century.

When the Giants grumbled in 2010 about the way the Colorado Rockies tinkered with their humidor-controlled baseballs, MLB immediately overhauled the protocol. ("They said there was a concern about the proceedings, so we changed them," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told the San Francisco Chronicle within 24 hours of the issue being resolved.)


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When the Giants requested an All-Star game at AT&T Park, they were awarded one with their first bid, for 2007. When they asked to host some of the 2013 World Baseball Classic games, they wound up getting the final.

The Giants' territorial rights to Silicon Valley remain intact, despite years under siege.

And now the Giants can even reverse the weather on a rainy night in Chicago. An all-night lobbying effort led Major League Baseball to rule that the Cubs were negligent on Aug. 19 in getting a tarp in place before the field became unplayable. A 15-minute rain shower with no tarp resulted in the game being called after 4½ innings, the minimum for an MLB game to be official.

"I don't think that this is extreme favoritism, but I do think that the Giants are well-respected in Major League Baseball," said Eric Byrnes, the former A's outfielder turned MLB Network analyst.

"Look, they've been a model citizen for the most part. They built their own stadium. ... They've spent responsibly. They're not trying to manipulate the system; they're not trying to flat-out buy a championship."

Larry Baer, the Giants president and chief executive officer, said the team's financial health helps. AT&T Park has had more than 300 consecutive sellouts, the longest active streak in the major leagues.

He also pointed to successful World Series parties in 2010 (at the Fairmont Hotel) and 2012 (at the California Academy of Sciences), when league executives -- and key sponsors -- were treated to lavish and well-orchestrated affairs.

"The goal is that when somebody says, 'San Francisco Giants,' it conjures up thoughts about the health of the game," Baer said.

But Baer said the true key to the Giants' ability to bend MLB's ear is their long-term credibility in leadership positions: Bruce Bochy has more victories than any active manager, Brian Sabean is the game's longest-tenured general manager, and Baer has been a top executive since 1993.

"It's not just the longevity, it's the stability and the trust factor," Baer said.

In lobbying to get the rainout at Wrigley overturned, for example, the Giants worked through the night by leaning on relationships with MLB's key decision-makers. Baer talked to commissioner Bud Selig and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred; Sabean worked the phones with Joe Torre, the former manager who now works as MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations.

"We were very appreciative of the reaction -- even if we woke them up," Baer said. "They listened, really listened, and everybody was open-minded. This was over a six-, seven-, eight-hour period."

Above all though, it was a pair of experienced experts on tarp mechanics who proved crucial to the successful protest. Jorge Costa, the Giants' senior vice present of ballpark operations, and Alfonso Felder (senior vice president of administration) recognized while watching the botched tarp pull that it stemmed from the failure to properly spool the tarp after its previous use.

This was the pivotal information. If this was a trial, it would be the smoking gun. In another controversial rainout this year, the Texas Rangers lost a game when the Yankees failed to get the tarp down in time.

But in that case, the New York grounds crew was hindered by an act of nature (fierce winds). The poor spooling, as MLB wrote in a statement, was a "malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club within the meaning of Official Baseball Rule 4.12(a)(3)."

Score one for Costa and Felder.

"That was really the point of distinction," Baer said.

Bobby Evans, in his 21st season in the Giants' baseball operations department, crafted and submitted the first letter of protest at 3 a.m., then followed up with another at 8 a.m. with further "amplification and information," Baer said.

The Giants' ability to get their way prompted some grumbling, although no team executive reached for this story wanted to be critical on the record.

In a typical response, one source from an N.L. team said his organization never would have won the challenge, or even been thoroughly heard. Another privately agreed with the premise of the Giants' rising organizational power -- then abruptly ended the conversation.

Other sources simply tipped their cap when asked about the off-field hot streak -- the "Posey Rule," the protest victory and others.

"The Giants should have a say and should be listened to. They have an incredible historical perspective and exist in a meaningful and important market," said Derrick Hall, the Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO, via e-mail. "Larry is an extraordinary leader who cares for the good of the game and the prosperity of our industry as a whole."

Dolich, a longtime A's executive (1980-95) who later served as a high-ranking official for the Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and 49ers, said that the tarp incident is a bit of a red herring. He said that the ineptitude of the Cubs' grounds crew that night was the key to the protest ruling, not the Giants' muscle.

"In the age of social media, there are no secrets," he said. "This (the Cubs' gaffe) has been shown, broadcast, upside down backwards and sideways -- much different than the automated Vince Coleman-eating tarps of years ago."

(Coleman, a one-time Cardinals speedster, suffered a freak injury during the 1985 playoffs after a tarp rolled over his valuable legs before Game 4.)

That said, Dolich added: "(The Giants) have a quality organization and they're respected for what they've done on the field and in the community, building a great facility. ... Larry is very, very engaged in everything that has to do with Major League Baseball -- even to the point where his name was mentioned as a candidate for commissioner."

Byrnes, who grew up as a Giants fan on the Peninsula before playing for the A's from 2000-05, hopes that Oakland someday enjoys the same kind of financial renaissance as the team across the bay.

In the meantime, he understands why the Giants get treated like a favorite child.

"Baseball would be better off if more organizations were run like the Giants," Byrnes said. "If I'm Selig or I'm Manfred, that means something. I'm going to listen to them."

Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.

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