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.

All of that may explain Selig's failure to deliver on a 2009 promise to sort out territorial rights in the Bay Area and address the desire of the Athletics to move to San Jose.

The lawsuit appears to leave baseball with two options. One is finding a solution that satisfies the Giants and allows the Athletics to move, as happened when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington over the objections of the Baltimore Orioles. The other is defending the antitrust exemption in court, where many legal experts doubt its viability.

Many North Bay fans would be sorry to see the Athletics pack up their four World Series trophies and move farther away. But not many would miss the O.co Coliseum, a relic of the 1960s. A sewage flood that drove players from the locker rooms last weekend is the latest evidence of its deterioration.

San Jose has set aside downtown land and completed environmental studies for a stadium that's sure to be more attractive to fans than the coliseum.

The arrival of the Athletics would mean the departure of the San Jose Giants, a California League team that explored a move to Windsor in 2010. Bringing them here would be a home run for Sonoma County.