Jun 18, 2013, 4:32 PM EDT
So I’ve read over the lawsuit filed by San Jose against Major League Baseball. Initial reaction: it’s more full of crap than Bob Melvin’s office was on Sunday afternoon.
The essence of the suit: Major League Baseball is a monopoly. It should be an unlawful monopoly. This would-be unlawful monopoly is preventing the Athletics from moving to San Jose and that has caused San Jose all manner of financial harm.
Which, yes, sounds reasonable. Major League Baseball is anti-competitive and does have a monopoly that should go the way of the dodo and vaudeville for the simple reason that it serves no purpose as noble and grand as either the dodo or vaudeville did. But the suit is not anything that should pass legal muster here, and I believe it will go down in flames.
As I said in the earlier post, courts do not entertain lawsuits from parties without standing to sue and the city of San Jose hasn’t asserted anything in this complaint that persuades me that they have standing. Or that they have been damaged in any way that a court will consider worthy of redress. Broadly speaking, they have claimed that (a) they have a contract with the owners of the Oakland A’s with which Major League Baseball’s actions have interfered; and (b) that the city has incurred or will incur — note the “will” — financial damages as a result of the A’s not moving to San Jose. Let’s break those down:
The tortious interference with a contract claim: The contract claim is baed on an option agreement entered into in 2011 between the A’s owners and San Jose for the purchase of some land on which a ballpark would be built. The A’s paid San Jose $50,000 for the option. It expires this fall. If they want to keep the option open for another year it’s another $25,000. If the A’s owners were to buy the land, they can do it for between $6 million and $7 million. Nothing in the option agreement, however, promises that the A’s will actually move. It doesn’t even promise that they’ll buy the land. Just that they have the option to do so.
San Jose, however, seems to be attempting to bootstrap this option into a promise that the A’s would actually move there and that MLB’s rules preventing the A’s from moving have thus interfered with that expectation. That’s a bridge too far. A bridge longer than the Dumbarton, actually. The only guarantee San Jose gets out of that contract is $50-75K. The only thing it’s giving up is the right to sell that land for the period of the option. Major League Baseball has not stopped the A’s from paying their $50-75K.
San Jose’s insistence that more has been lost here is based on an assertion that the A’s have indicated a willingness to move to San Jose. Well, yes, they have. But they haven’t done anything to act on it yet because they know they can’t. At the minimum, I would think a court would need to have evidence that the A’s actually took a concrete step to pay San Jose $7 million for that land, to actually move to San Jose only to have had Major League Baseball stop that from happening. There is no suggestion, however, that any such evidence exists.
The financial damages: It’s all future tense. San Jose would have gotten increased tax revenue, would have gotten good paying stadium construction jobs, would have seen economic development and would have had a more healthy municipal budget had the A’s moved. Those are all speculative, prospective damages* not actual damages, and courts are not in the business of providing redress for speculative, prospective damages. Tomorrow Lew Wolff could say “you know what? I always wanted to move the A’s to Bakersfield. We’re moving to Bakersfield.” If he did that, San Jose would have no recourse. So they certainly have no recourse against Major League Baseball for preventing a speculative A’s-to-San Jose move.
*Probably also worth noting that the complaint spends a lot of time talking about all the economic benefits of ballpark development. These benefits have been largely debunked. I sorta hope this suit goes far, however, so that MLB would find itself in the odd position of having to explain how such damages are illusory, contrary to their tack for the past 25 years or so.
I think Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption is abhorrent. I wish it were gone and think, in the right lawsuit, it could be defeated. If the A’s had filed this suit, for example, claiming that MLB is preventing them from moving and that MLB’s insistence that they stay in Oakland has caused them financial damages, I think it would have a puncher’s chance. And I’d be shaking my pompoms, cheering it on. But they didn’t file it. San Jose did. And San Jose has no legal rights that seem remotely impinged upon here.
Which, it should be worth noting, may be the idea. It’s quite possible that this suit is more a political document than a legal one, with San Jose’s mayor trying to focus attention on the languishing A’s-to-San Jose thing and to get public opinion on the side of the A’s and the city. Maybe this will do that, maybe it won’t. I’d have to know the political dynamics of the Bay Area better than I do to have an idea.
But I do think that for it to have any practical use in creating leverage it has to at least present a legal threat, and this doesn’t do that. Indeed, I think Major League Baseball is way more worried about losing its antitrust exemption than any bad PR that can come out of Oakland, so they’re likely to fight this suit until it’s dead.
Which should be quickly. Because the suit is no better than the stuff bubbling up through the Oakland Coliseum’s pipes and should be thrown out.
Apr 24, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT
Get excited. One of baseball’s most exciting young players is close to making his return.
Apr 24, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT
The alleged incident took place last April while the Reds were in Washington, D.C.
Apr 24, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT
A.J. Griffin was shut down during spring training with right flexor tendinitis and still isn’t feeling right.
Apr 24, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and now he’s joining the front office of the team who originally drafted him.
Apr 24, 2014, 6:14 PM EDT
Shane Victorino has been sidelined since spring training with a hamstring strain, but he’ll make his season debut tonight against the Yankees.
Apr 24, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
And knowing is half the battle? Wait, that’s another thing.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:48 PM EDT
Ivan Nova is the latest pitcher to need Tommy John surgery.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
Demoted back to the minors at the end of spring training, Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz is now on the Triple-A disabled list with what the team is calling arm soreness and inflammation.
Apr 24, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
A hated policy preventing Cuban players from playing in other countries is now gone.
Apr 24, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
More like Cake Toss, amirite?
Apr 24, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT
Michael Pineda has been suspended 10 games by MLB after being ejected from last night’s start against the Red Sox for “possessing a foreign substance on his person.”
Apr 24, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT
Joe Posnanski says not to overlook The Obviousness Factor when it comes to Michael Pineda and pine tar.
Apr 24, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT
Kay and I talk about what everyone is talking about today
Apr 24, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT
In addition to sending Nick Franklin back to the minors following a six-day call-up the Mariners have also dropped right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from their starting rotation and demoted him all the way down to Single-A.
An usher at Progressive Field claims he was fired for not supporting a ballot measure to fund stadium upgrades
Apr 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
You got your politics in my day job! You got your day job in my politics! Heeeyyyy . . .
Apr 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Current pitchers all say they use pine tar to help their grip. A pitcher who has no incentive to lie about that sort of thing says it’s total B.S.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
This is a great afternoon-killer.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been placed on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring trying to chase down a fly ball in yesterday’s loss to the Diamondbacks.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT
And no, it’s not a piece of memorabilia. It’s a brand new glove, never used by a major leaguer.
Apr 24, 2014, 11:09 AM EDT
Undercurrent: A man with a blog attacks another man with a blog for being a blogger. Nothing worse than a self-hating blogger.
- Manny Machado could join the Orioles as soon as next weekend 0
- Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for “foreign substance” 43
- Doc Gooden calls B.S. on people saying pine tar is just to help pitchers get a grip on the ball 86
- Pineda and pine tar: baseball is, once again, sending mixed signals about cheating 126
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 69
- Josh Lueke is a rapist. How often does that bear repeating? (201)
- Benches clear in Pittsburgh after the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez bat flips a third-inning triple (183)
- Michael Pineda ejected in second inning for pine tar on neck, facing a 10-game suspension (156)
- Pineda and pine tar: baseball is, once again, sending mixed signals about cheating (126)
- Chipper Jones chimed in on the Carlos Gomez incident (111)