Skip to content

San Jose sues Major League Baseball, challenging its monopoly power

Jun 18, 2013, 2:27 PM EDT

Chuck Reed San Jose

The City of San Jose has sued Major League Baseball in an effort to get the Oakland A’s to relocate to San Jose, to challenge the Giants claim to rights over the territory and to challenge Major League Baseball’s long-standing monopoly power.

The lawsuit, a copy of which can be seen here, and which is analyzed in-depth here, alleges that Major League Baseball has caused San Jose to lose prospective financial benefits and deals by virtue of the A’s moving there and violations of state and federal antitrust laws.

This will get big headlines, but until I see the lawsuit or have someone tell me otherwise, I can’t see how the City of San Jose would have a leg to stand on. Literally: I think legal standing is a big, big problem here.

Standing, for purposes of a lawsuit, is the idea that focuses on whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit can show that he or she some personal legal interest that has been damaged by the defendant. It is not enough that the plaintiff has an interest of sorts or a prospective interest. It has to be a concrete personal stake in the outcome of the suit. You may be very interested in a big real estate deal going down, but you can’t sue the people involved for not letting you into the deal on the idea that, “man, I would’ve made a ton of money!”  You have to be in the deal already and have your rights violated.

I don’t see how San Jose has that standing here. Yes, they would benefit greatly from the A’s moving to San Jose and yes MLB’s monopoly rules which control where franchises can and cannot be are preventing it. But they are not party to those rules. They have no hard and fast deal with the Oakland A’s yet. There have been statements of principles and plans announced pending MLB approval of an A’s move, but nothing hard and in stone. Indeed, if the A’s had committed to San Jose in such a way already, the Giants and/or Major League Baseball likely would have sued them by now.

I hate baseball’s monopoly power. I think it makes watching games on TV difficult and I think it makes the game less competitive by keeping teams from doing everything they can to compete. But that doesn’t give me the right to sue Major League Baseball over it. The A’s in San Jose would make San Jose’s life way better too, many would argue. But just because they’re not doesn’t give San Jose the right to sue either. What would make this different is if Lew Wolff and the A’s were involved. And I find it almost impossible to believe that they would be.

UPDATE: How about more than impossible the A’s would be involved here. From Michael McCann’s column about Frank McCourt back in 2011 in Sports Illustrated:

MLB could also highlight the “waiver of recourse” clause found in the MLB constitution. This clause prevents clubs from engaging in litigation against the commissioner, the league or other owners. Indeed, by virtue of becoming a franchise owner, an owner waives away the right to seek remedies that would normally be available through the legal system. The clause also compels owners to resolve their differences internally and to accept the commissioner’s judgment as binding.

This would prevent the A’s from joining in.  I’m told the San Jose complaint, however, alleges that the MLB Constitution is expired now. Which would be odd, but that’s the claim. Likely asserted so that the A’s could later join the suit if it gets further down the road.

Latest Posts
  1. John Mozeliak announces Matt Adams out 3-4 months with torn quad, possibly the year

    May 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    matt adams getty Getty Images

    Adams tore his right quadriceps muscle Tuesday while legging out a double.

  2. Dodgers designate Sergio Santos for assignment

    May 27, 2015, 8:23 PM EDT

    sergio santos getty Getty Images

    Santos had registered an underwhelming 4.73 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 15/7 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings of relief this season for the Dodgers.

  3. Video: Jimmy Paredes stole home

    May 27, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    jimmy paredes getty Getty Images

    Just call him Jimmy “The Jet” Paredes.

  4. Red Sox acquire outfielder Carlos Peguero from Rangers

    May 27, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT

    peguero getty Getty Images

    Peguero was designated for assignment by the Rangers on May 20 after batting .186/.310/.414 with four home runs and nine RBI in 84 plate appearances.

  5. Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams out indefinitely with torn quadriceps, may need surgery

    May 27, 2015, 5:19 PM EDT

    matt adams cardinals getty Getty Images

    Adams was off to a slow start this season, but he’s hit .277 with a .770 OPS in 320 games for the Cardinals since debuting in 2012.

  6. Al Kaline’s last game

    May 27, 2015, 5:09 PM EDT

    Portrait of Al Kaline

    Everything ends badly. Otherwise it wouldn’t end.

  7. Scott Kazmir leaves the Tigers-Athletics game with an apparent injury

    May 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EDT

    Scott Kazmir AP

    A bad season for the A’s is starting to look worse.

  8. Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer dueled. Chris Archer, by one measure, pitched better. Felix Hernandez won.

    May 27, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Felix Hernandez Getty Images

    Game scores are interesting things. Wins — the team kind, anyway — are far more satisfying.

  9. Orioles drop $5 million outfielder Alejandro De Aza

    May 27, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT

    Alejandro De Aza AP AP

    De Aza played very well for the Orioles down the stretch last season.

  10. Angels acquire outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Mets

    May 27, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    Kirk Nieuwenhuis Getty Images

    Several reports last week had the Angels in the market for outfield help.

  11. The “Selig Experience” attraction opens this week at Miller Park

    May 27, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York Reuters

    “A multimedia show featuring a virtual Selig.” Yes, that’s actually a thing.

  12. Matt Wieters begins rehab assignment with two hits

    May 27, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Matt Wieters Getty Getty Images

    He’s about 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

  13. Cubs release left-hander Phil Coke

    May 27, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Phil Coke throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) AP

    Coke signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Cubs this offseason.

  14. Buster Olney: The Marlins should hire A-Rod to be their next manager

    May 27, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez AP

    And you think my A-Rod trolling kung-fu is the best. Heck, I’m an amateur.

  15. Matt Adams is hurt, so the Cardinals turn to Mark Reynolds

    May 27, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    matt adams getty Getty Images

    Adams hurt his quadriceps while running out a double.

  16. Video: Carlos Correa hit a monster home run in Fresno

    May 27, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    carlos correa getty Getty Images

    He has three homers and is hitting .283/.353/.500 in 14 Triple-A games. At the age of 20.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3682)
  2. J. Lucroy (3407)
  3. A. Pujols (3400)
  4. Y. Puig (3288)
  5. D. Wright (3239)
  1. D. Travis (3139)
  2. R. Castillo (2989)
  3. B. Harper (2814)
  4. A. Garcia (2572)
  5. C. Correa (2541)