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March 03, 2011

Wolff: "Ridiculous" that Giants can block A's move to San Jose

The Sacramento Business Journal headline reads "A's owner says Selig may move on stadium," but when you read the actual story, it's more like "A's owner really, really hopes that Selig steps in to help, please dear god":

"They've had time enough to explore anything," [Lew] Wolff told Bloomberg. "We're getting close to the point Bud is going to make a decision."

Go to the Bloomberg article in question, and it's clear that Wolff is just trying to move things along through force of rhetoric, as he's done before, declaring that it's "ridiculous" that "this is really a shovel-ready project that is being stopped by a disagreement with the Giants."

Giants president Larry Baer, notably, responded to Bloomberg that "we’re not going to get into a back-and-forth public debate with Lew on this topic," which seems to translate into "We have our territorial rights and we're not going to give them up until you or Bud Selig claws them from our cold, dead fingers." Or as the Oakland Tribune's Gary Peterson (not a disinterested observer, obviously) puts it:

Why do the Giants want to stop the A's from moving to San Jose? Because they can. These are the big leagues, Sparky. People protect their self-interests and they play for keeps. Twenty-five years ago, Bob Lurie was led to believe his Giants could play in the Coliseum while a new ballpark was being built in San Francisco. Shortly after he floated that plan in public, he heard from Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson and the Coliseum board: "Oh no you won't."
Stuff happens.

The real news here, such as it is, is that Wolff says the A's could move into a new stadium in San Jose within three years once MLB gives the go-ahead. Which, given that it takes at most two years to build a stadium in a warm climate like Northern California, is if anything a bit underwhelming, as bombshell announcement go. But hey, they gotta find something to write about during spring training.


Here we go again.
Lew-lew using his mouthpieces in the news media to vent his frustration and the Gi-ants just sit back and rake in the profits.
It's happened recently and will occur again, but not in the Chronicle - Billy-bow tie has them sewn up. Guess that the commish won't answer his calls.
Maybe commish Bud-dy will announce that the A's (as in daze) and the Rays organizations will be contracted after he engineers an inside deal for Sternberger & co. to buy out Fred-o and Crazy-Katz in Queens.
Then - as usual, the A's (as in daze) will come up short.

Posted by Paul W. on March 4, 2011 11:58 AM

@Neil- Take a look at this:

The 1998 Curt Flood Act was put into law by Congress to subject MLB to some anti-trust laws. Most people thought it was relative to labor matters and free agency. Since free agency had already been granted this act went under the radar.

If you read carefully it states in Section 27, Part B, Paragraph 3 that Franchise relocation is subject to the same Anti-Trust laws that the other professional leagues are held to.

This plus the precedents set in the past with the Raiders and Clippers moving to LA in the 1980s against the vote of the owners in the NFL and NBA.

Al Davis won a huge Anti-Trust suit against the NFL and the NBA settled with Donald Sterling because they saw their lawsuit going south after Al won.

It is pretty clear to me (I am smart guy but not a lawyer..ha!) that the Giants in fact hold zero claim to San Jose and neither does MLB itself as that would be a violation of Anti-Trust law according to this act.

I also believe that no one has read this act in its entirety as I have never heard about this anywhere online about it relating to franchise relocation in MLB.

The A's trying to move to San Jose is the first precedent of another team trying to move into some other team's "so called" territory in MLB.

I sent this to the Mercury News and San Jose City Council 2 days ago and the response I got was "Astonishment".

They are looking into this and I anticipate a Mercury News article on this in the coming weeks.

My guess is that now that the City of San Jose has direct evidence that T-Rights are in fact a violation of Anti-Trust law they will call Bud Selig and politely "threaten" a lawsuit.

Selig so shocked that he has now put T-Rights in jeopardy for all the owners will be forced to announce San Jose as the winner of the long delayed BRC report.

He will then have the other owners vote to change the T-rights in the Bay Area to a shared situation in order to preserve T-Rights for the other a 29-1 vote I would presume.

The Giants will not be indemnified a penny outside of revenue sharing and no relocation fee will be paid by the A's since they are moving 30 miles south in the same general market.

This is mind boggling to me that no one has posted or spoke about this in the newspapers. The argument has been MLB Anti-Trust exemption allowed them to assign T-Rights.....Not the case shown clearly by this document.

I feel so bad for Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman as if they known about this 5-7 years ago they would have teamed with San Jose on a lawsuit....We all know how much Schott and Selig liked each other.

In the end the A's are coming to San Jose...It is only a matter of time as this new information paves the way for the them and the City of San Jose.

Posted by Sid on March 7, 2011 02:33 AM

Sid, I think you're reading the Curt Flood Act exactly backwards. (Not surprising, since it's written in nearly impenetrable legalese.) If you look carefully, skipping all the intervening dependent clauses, the relevant section reads like this:

"(b) ... This section does not create, permit or imply a cause of action by which to challenge under the antitrust laws ... any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements that do not directly relate to or affect employment of major league baseball players ... including but not limited to - (3) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of persons engaging in, conducting or participating in the business of organized professional baseball relating to or affecting franchise expansion, location or relocation..."

In other words, the Curt Flood Act specifically does *not* create a cause of action to file an antitrust suit over relocation, or any of the other items mentioned. It is written solely to allow the players to decertify their union and sue MLB if they want, the way the NFLPA did a bunch of years back. (Note also that subsection (c) says that only players may sue under the Curt Flood Act.)

There's a longer discussion of the Curt Flood Act here that specifically notes that relocation isn't covered:

Posted by Neil deMause on March 7, 2011 07:43 AM

I thought the same thing before as well. But it says that these are the rules that MLB has to comply by just like the other professional leagues in regard to Anti-Trust law.

What you write is "backwards" is because Congress is stating they do not want some other "business" using this act to justify an anti-trust lawsuit for something "unrelated" to Professional Sports.

SEC. 27. (a) Subject to subsections (b) through (d), the conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of persons in the business of organized professional major league baseball directly relating to or affecting employment of major league baseball players to play baseball at the major league level are subject to the antitrust laws to the same extent such conduct, acts, practices, or agreements would be subject to the antitrust laws if engaged in by persons in any other professional sports business affecting interstate commerce.

Section B Paragraph 3:
(3) any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements of persons engaging in, conducting or participating in the business of organized professional baseball relating to or affecting franchise expansion, location or relocation, franchise ownership issues, including ownership transfers, the relationship between the Office of the Commissioner and franchise owners, the marketing or sales of the entertainment product of organized professional baseball and the licensing of intellectual property rights owned or held by organized professional baseball teams individually or collectively;

This is pretty straight forward if you ask most people (who are not lawyers)....It states that location or franchise relocation should be treated the same as the other professional leagues....Not the other way around.

If this was not the case and you are correct then why even include this?

I asked a few buddies of mine who are working lawyers and they agree with me 100%.

The discussion you pertain to is off because that law student didn't read the clause I am bringing up. If he did he would agree with my lawyer buddies that Franchise relocation is included in this act.

This is grounds for a valid Anti-Trust lawsuit by the City of San Jose.....T-rights are against Anti-Trust law by definition.

This act limited MLB in what they can use the Anti-Trust Exemption for and they included Franchise relocation in the clause above for 1 reason....

That reason is Al Davis and Donald Sterling and the lawsuits they won in the 1980s that revolved around this exact thing.

Congress put this in to limit MLB's ability to "play by their own rules" as they have done in the past and they did not want MLB to have greater rights than the other leagues when it came to this particular issue.

I got a feeling San Jose is going come out on top in the BRC report and the other owners will vote the Giants of the island in order to preserve T-Rights for the other 28 teams because of this.

Posted by Sid on March 7, 2011 06:14 PM

I forgot to point out that Franchise location and/or Relocation does relate and affect employment of MLB players as shown in Section 27.

The location of Franchises is paramount to employment of the players and MLB has to play by Anti-Trust rules around this because of the players not the owners.

Therefore if the City of San Jose and the A's want to locate a private business that employs MLB players then it is in fact subject to Anti-Trust law.

Posted by Sid on March 7, 2011 06:23 PM

Subsection b(3) doesn't refer to section a (the "subject to the same antitrust laws" bit), though. Subsection b is a list of the things that the law *doesn't affect*. So when relocation is mentioned in (3), that means "go ahead with relocation rules as usual, nothing to see here."

Since I got my law degree out of a Kinder Egg, any lawyers out there who can confirm this once and for all?

Posted by Neil deMause on March 7, 2011 06:51 PM

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