Two weeks ago the City of San Jose made its final filing for the October 4 hearing. Now it’s baseball’s turn to file, making its own submission yesterday. Now that we’ve had the initial filings and the rebuttals, we can see how the two sides are formulating their arguments. Yesterday’s filing continues to assert the antitrust exemption over all, that the Piazza decision was flawed, that the City’s interpretation of the Flood case is too broad, and that MLB can take as much time as it likes to determine where the A’s should or shouldn’t relocate.
The big reveal was that a second document accompanied baseball’s reply brief: the MLB Constitution. PDF links are listed below:
In the City’s original complaint, it argued that MLB’s Constitution expired at the end of last year, which I thought preposterous. Baseball had to approve the Astros’ move to the American League, and some covenant had to reflect that. The new Constitution does show the new divisional arrangement, and continues to show the same territorial assignments as the previous one, with no change in language.
San Francisco Giants: City of San Francisco; and San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Counties in California; provided, however, that with respect to all Major League Clubs, Santa Clara County in California shall also be included;
Oakland Athletics: Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in California;
If you’re wondering what the shared two-team market definitions look like, here’s an example:
Los Angeles Dodgers: Orange, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties in California; provided, however, that this territory shall be shared with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim franchise in the American League;
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties in California; provided, however, that this territory shall be shared with the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise in the National League;
Even if City’s tactic was simply to get the Constitution out in the open, it’s a good thing. It’s not like they were going to win or lose the case based on this.
One thing to consider is the three-fourths rule commonly cited when it comes to franchise relocation. 3/4ths of the owners (23) need to approve any franchise move, whether it’s 30 miles or 3,000. Just as important is that 3/4ths of the owners are needed to do any number of other changes:
- Control person owner change (ex: Lew Wolff for the A’s, Larry Baer for the Giants)
- Franchise termination – some may associate this with contraction
- Revenue sharing changes for individual clubs
Keep in mind that the A’s future could include any or all of the above remedies. Sure, I’m referring to mostly extreme, batshit crazy possibilities, but at this stage, I suppose anything’s possible. If the pro-Oakland folks want to get a new ownership group in or depose Wolff, 3/4ths. Want to contract and expand the team a la the Expos/Nats? 3/4ths. Got a unique way of compensating the Giants for giving up the South Bay or the A’s for giving up the Bay Area altogether? 3/4ths. Commissioner Bud Selig’s is supposedly retiring, so it’s unlikely he’d take on such difficult machinations during his lame duck senioritis period. He took care of a bunch of to-dos like replay and an expanded drug testing program in the last year.
Chances are that Selig’s successor will inherit this mess. If there is some jockeying for the job instead of a Selig “appointment” it could be interesting to see if the A’s and Giants try to lobby for one individual over another.