If the Giants move from San Francisco to St. Petersburg, Fla., do not feel sorry for these people:
* San Francisco fans: They didn't care about the traumatic effect the Giants' move to their city had on New York fans 35 years ago.
* San Francisco-area officials and businesses: They didn't do enough to insure the success of any of the four voter referendums to provide funds for a new stadium.
* Peter O'Malley: The Los Angeles Dodgers owner can't complain about the Giants abandoning the West Coast and their ageless rivalry, because his father abandoned Brooklyn and induced Horace Stoneham, owner of the Giants, to move west with him. Of course, if O'Malley wants to travel in tandem with the Giants once more, Brooklyn fans would allow the Dodgers back into the borough.
* Any owners, including O'Malley, who might want commissioner Fay Vincent to block the move: The owners have made Vincent's life miserable by sniping at him and fighting him at every turn (some even resent his attending baseball games). The Cubs are suing him in federal court and blocking his plan for National League realignment. Why should he do their dirty work for them so that they don't emerge as the bad guys in the effort to keep the Giants in San Francisco?
Question, on the other hand, the ethics and fairness of a group of owners who would take Wayne Huizenga's $95 million for an expansion franchise in Miami, then let an established team like the Giants leap feet first into Florida when Huizenga had reason to believe the state would belong to the Marlins, at least for its initial years of existence.
This is called winning by losing.
St. Petersburg loses its bid for an expansion franchise but wins because it gets the Giants, a team that comes to it with established players like Will Clark, a minor-league organization, a rich history filled with such immortals as Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal and a built-in segment of fans who have migrated south from New York.
The Marlins, for greater start-up costs than the Giants' $111 million price tag, are left with young players no one ever heard of and many of whom won't be heard from in a couple of years.
With the Marlins the only team in Florida, they would not expect fans to flock to Miami from the other coast, although a sizable number would probably make weekend trips to see them play.
But with the Giants in St. Petersburg, the Marlins would lose those groups plus some fans who live an equal distance from the two cities.
Worse, from a revenue standpoint, the Marlins would lose their statewide television audience and the sale of Marlins' mementos, shirts, shorts, caps, jackets and all of those other stylish items in shops all over Florida.
Huizenga has publicly welcomed a team in St. Petersburg. Privately, he has expressed other views.
"Huizenga is beside himself," another owner said. "They're furious, but they can't say that. They can't get the people in Florida mad."
When Huizenga entered the expansion race, he asked Douglas Danforth of the Pirates, chairman of the expansion committee, if any teams might be up for sale and transfer in the near future. The answer was no. Huizenga then acted in good faith and anted up his $95 million.
Yes, circumstances change, but one act of good faith should be rewarded with another. The National League owners aren't about to give back any of the $95 million, but they could protect the Marlins. They could reject the Giants' move outright or they could compromise and tell the Giants they can't move until 1994.
The delay could prompt Bob Lurie, the Giants owner, to sell to a San Francisco group or, at the least, it would give the Marlins a one-year head start, the bare minimum of a show of decency by their new playmates.
There is some thought that the Giants should not be allowed to move any more than the Seattle Mariners or the Houston Astros would have been permitted to move. Why should Lurie benefit more than Jeff Smulyan or John McMullen?
The Giants will not find the road to approval covered with roses. Some owners have privately expressed their opposition to the move and are prepared to vote against it.
The conflict and confusion created by the proposed move has, in the words of an owner, produced a mess. The owners, sadly, don't have a good track record in their efforts to resolve messes.