The city of San Jose, California filed an antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball last week. This doesn't concern Houston. It doesn't concern the Astros, or Jim Crane, or the Astros dwindling fan base. It is a lawsuit that has almost zero chance of success. Bu, hopefully it will do something about bringing the bully that is Bud Selig down to size.
The lawsuit arises from the Oakland A's wanting to depart their aging, rotting, decrepit facility. The team's attempt to move to Fremont, CA collapsed due to opposition of Fremont residents. But the city of San Jose came up with a sweetheart deal for the A's, agreeing to a downtown stadium in the rapidly growing South Bay Area that's home to many tech industry giants eager to throw dollars toward a sports franchise -- the naming rights to the non-existent stadium have already been sold to Cisco.
There's just one problem. It should be a minor problem. But with Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, there is no such thing as a minor problem. And the problem is this: the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to San Jose, and they've vetoed the move of the A's.
The Giants have the rights to San Jose because the A's gave them those rights in the early-90s. The Giants requested these rights because they were having a problem getting a new ballpark in San Francisco. But as every baseball fan knows, the Giants worked out the issues with San Francisco and now play in the best ballpark in the majors. But even so, they still claim the rights for San Jose and are preventing the A's from relocating to a populace that badly wants the team.
Bud Selig's solution to the problem was forming a committee. Four years ago. A committee which has yet to come close to solving what's actually a minor problem.
It's a minor problem because, as MLB/Bud Selig watchers know, Bud Selig makes happen whatever he wants to happen. For instance, Selig readily moved the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. over the loud objections of the Baltimore Orioles who held the territorial rights to DC.
This is also the same Selig who allowed John Henry to trade his ownership of the Marlins for that of the Red Sox while letting Jeffery Loria take over the ownership of the Marlins despite Loria owning the Expos (pretty much destroying that team in the process) and despite there being in place absolutely no person or entity willing to purchase the Expos.
This is also the same Selig who vetoed the sale of the Astros by Drayton McLane to Williams Collins in the mid-90s, a sale which would've resulted in the Astros being relocated to Northern Virginia. It's also the same Bud Selig who forced the Astros to move to the American League as a condition to Crane purchasing the team. Not to mention, this is the same Selig who has resorted to bribery and intimidation as part of a vendetta against Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
But now Selig and MLB would have you believe they're powerless in regards to the A's attempted move to San Jose. Everybody knows this is a lie. There's enough precedent to show it's a lie. Thus the lawsuit.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
San Jose will lose this lawsuit. There's a matter of standing, and there's the matter of actual damages. The appropriate party to file the lawsuit is thr Oakland A's, but they won't so as not to rock the boat, much as Jim Crane didn't sue MLB over the forced realignment of the Astros. But maybe winning the suit's not the point. Maybe forcing Selig to get off his ass and finally make a decision is the point.
The A's and San Jose have followed the rules. The A's haven't attempted to hold the city of Oakland hostage. They haven't attempted to use Las Vegas or Portland or San Antonio as leverage. They're attempting to stay within the same geographic territory where they're already at, and there's a city just waiting for them. This could've all been over long ago if Selig had just acted toward the A's like he did the Expos/Nationals.
Ultimately, this means little to the Astros or to Houston. But it's good to see somebody finally attempt to put the tinpot bully dictator that is Bud Selig in his place. And if no owners are going to have the guts or courage to do it, then good on San Jose. They'll lose, but maybe Selig will actually get the message this time.
And sometimes, that's all a bully needs.