Fed up with over four years of delays, the San Jose City Council yesterday officially agreed to sue Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball for blocking the Athletics' move to the city. The suit, striking at the very heart of MLB's antitrust exemption, is San Jose's nuclear option. South Bay A's fans overwhelmingly met the news with "it's about time" enthusiasm. As one Baseball San Jose supporter put it, "Will this materially hurt the Giants in a way that cannot be mitigated? No. I think this just about wraps this up. End of story, A's should be allowed to move to San Jose. Thanks for nothing Bud."
On San Jose Inside, Councilman Sam Liccardo explains why the city finally took this bold step, "We relish the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. This lawsuit is San Jose’s declaration of independence—the time is long since past for San Jose to take its future into its own hands. Our destiny won’t be shaped by billionaire team owners, their lawyers, or their lobbyists. And if Major League Baseball doesn’t want to allow one of their teams to move to San Jose, we’re happy to take their money—as federal antitrust law provides for treble damages for anticompetitive behavior."
Reaction from around the Internet has been largely positive:
- The San Jose Mercury News: San Jose has waited four years for the inept Bud Selig to make the call on the A's request to move to San Jose. It would be more profitable for the team and for Major League Baseball overall, since Oakland is a losing proposition -- even when the ballpark is not flooded with sewage, as it's been this week ... Selig, the milquetoast head of Major League Baseball, has been cowed in part by the San Francisco Giants' threat of litigation if they lose San Jose as part of their arbitrarily-designated territory. Well, now Selig's got an actual lawsuit to fret over.
- San Francisco Chronicle: Selig's foot-dragging over four years of study on the Oakland Athletics' wish to move to San Jose has been a disservice to almost everyone involved: to the A's and their fans, to the city of Oakland and its pathetically desperate efforts to appease an owner who wants out of town, to San Jose's urban revitalization dreams - and to the sport itself ... What Selig has done to Oakland and San Jose with his indisposition has been beyond frustrating. It has been costly and cruel to both cities.
- ESPN: If only Al Davis had owned the A's maybe this would have been resolved years ago. But A's owner Lew Wolff has been a good corporate partner to the other franchises, as well as bud to Bud, sacrificing the wealth of his own franchise for the betterment of ... well, I guess, the Giants. The Giants have won two World Series titles in three years and have grown into one of baseball's big-ticket franchises, all because of the A's.
- Bleacher Report: With a new stadium in Santa Clara County, the A’s hope to draw more fans, which would in theory raise revenues and allow them to keep more of their homegrown talent. This season, the A’s have the 23rd-best home attendance in baseball, according to ESPN. Back in April, Jim Caple of ESPN rated O.co Coliseum as the third-worst stadium in the game ... It’s obvious that the A’s are determined to move to San Jose, and if MLB isn’t going to let them, the city is going to do everything in its power to change the league’s mind—even if it means a lawsuit.
Not surpsingly, MLB is not happy, calling the lawsuit "an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional sports league. It is regrettable that the city has resorted to litigation that has no basis in law or in fact." Of course, if MLB regrets this move by San Jose, then perhaps Bud Selig should've given Mayor Reed the courtesy of a meeting last April, no?
So, now is when things will get really interesting. Stay tuned.
You're up to bat, San Jose!