MLB has struck back against the city of San Jose’s antitrust lawsuit against the league’s refusal to grant the Oakland A’s permission to move there, filing a motion to dismiss the city’s claims. MLB is both claiming that its antitrust exemption makes it immune to such an action — which is exactly what the San Jose case is challenging, duh — but also argues that San Jose doesn’t have standing to sue in this case:
“The alleged harms are too remote and speculative to support an antitrust claim,” wrote San Francisco attorney John Keker, who is leading the league’s defense. “If (San Jose’s claims were supported), it would lead to absurd results: every time a franchise contemplated relocation, MLB would be subjected to suits from any city that desires a team and from any city that does not want to lose a team.”
That’s the Craig Calcaterra argument: San Jose can’t sue over MLB refusing to let Lew Wolff move the A’s to San Jose, because Wolff hasn’t actually asked to move to San Jose, so letting them sue would be like letting Stockton or Fresno sue because they don’t have teams. San Jose’s counter, which is Roger Noll’s argument, is that because they have an option agreement to build an A’s stadium, they damn well do have business interests that are being harmed by MLB’s territorial-rights system.
If you read what Noll told me two months ago, you’ll see that yesterday’s filing is right in line with what he expected: waving the antitrust exemption (which is unlikely to be grounds for quick dismissal) and an attempt to claim that San Jose lacks standing. Noll also predicted that neither of these would be enough to prevent the case from going to trial; we’ll see when U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte hears the case in October.