The first shot in the battle for the future home of the Oakland Athletics was fired Tuesday morning.
The San Jose City Council met in closed session today to approve filing a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in hopes of prying a decision from the league on the proposed move of the team to San Jose. The suit was then filed in U.S. District Court just two days after a raw sewage leak at the Oakland Coliseum flooded its locker rooms.
The lawsuit claims Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Bud Selig, have violated state and federal laws regarding unfair business practices and anticompetitive conduct. It also challenges the exemption to antitrust laws that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld for Major League Baseball in 1922.
“This action arises from the blatant conspiracy by Major League Baseball to prevent the Athletics Baseball Club from moving to San Jose,” the suit says. “This action challenges – and seeks to remedy – defendants’ violation of state laws and use of the illegal cartel that results from these agreements to eliminate competition in the playing of games in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
The A’s are not party to the lawsuit, notes the San Francisco Chronicle. However, as one of 30 Major League franchise, they are technically defendants in the case.
The early read on the ramifications surrounding the suit view it as similar to the gambit former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt attempting by suing MLB. That move involved forcing MLB’s commissioner Bud Selig to testify in the case, in hopes to extracting a favorable settlement.
The impetus for San Jose’s move comes after four years of foot-dragging by Selig and a so-called blue-ribbon committee charged with exploring the A’s potential move to San Jose despite the existence of territorial rights belonging to the San Francisco Giants. Ironically, Oakland’s greatest ally for keeping the team in the East Bay is the Giants.