PD Editorial: The lawyers come to bat for A's stadium

  • FILE - This Sept. 30, 2007 file photo shows O.Co Coliseum, then called McAfee Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, in Oakland, Calif. Major League Baseball is dragging its feet on having team owners vote on the Athletics' proposed move to a new ballpark 40 miles south in San Jose, San Jose city officials said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 18, 2013. The lawsuit — filed in federal court in San Jose — is disputing MLB's exemption to federal antitrust law, which MLB has used as a "guise" to control the location of teams, according to the suit. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

We'd rather be cheering a clutch hit or a timely double play than a lawsuit.

On this day, however, let's hear it for those pinstripers from San Jose — the team that conducts its business in a courtroom, not on a ball field.

If you haven't been following this story, the Oakland Athletics want to relocate to thriving San Jose, and the nation's 10th largest city is eager to be the home of a Major League Baseball team.

So far, however, San Jose, the Athletics and, ultimately, Bay Area fans, have gotten brushed off by Bud Selig, baseball's commissioner.

This week, frustrated by four years of inaction, San Jose's lawyers delivered a brush-back — filing a lawsuit targeting baseball's legally tenuous exemption from federal antitrust laws. Maybe that threat will prompt Selig to settle the conflict behind this long delay, which in turn could result in baseball's return to the North Bay.

Baseball grants a monopoly to each of its 30 franchises, citing the 91-year-old antitrust exemption. The San Francisco Giants claim San Jose as part of their exclusive territory and threaten to sue if baseball allows the Athletics to move to Silicon Valley.

If you listen to Giants executives, you might think those rights have existed since time immemorial, or at least since the team decamped from New York in 1957.

In fact, the Athletics ceded San Jose in 1990, acting in "the best interests of baseball," to quote Selig, when the Giants wanted out of San Francisco.

San Jose's lawsuit reprises the Selig quote as well as this one: "What gets lost here is (the Athletics) didn't think it was permission in perpetuity."

The lawsuit also cites internal baseball records that describe the assignment of territorial rights as being contingent on the Giants actually moving to Santa Clara County. The Giants, of course, stayed in San Francisco, moving into their own downtown ballpark 13 years ago.

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