Wendy Thurm’s live tweets from antitrust hearing (Update: link to Fangraphs article)

UPDATE 10/5 9:45 AM – Thurm put out an analysis of the hearing and potential steps forward at Fangraphs. I concur with everything she wrote.


Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm will have an article on this morning’s hearing soon. For now, this Storify recap will have to do.

My initial thoughts are that Judge Ronald Whyte was very thorough in picking apart arguments from both sides. He raised the lingering issue of standing for the City of San Jose, and openly questioned the purpose and efficacy of MLB’s long-held antitrust exemption. There’s a sense that Whyte may rule to dismiss the lawsuit based on standing, which would force the City to appeal. If the suit is dismissed, Whyte could choose to leave the matter for a state court to decide, or determine that his ruling covers both state and federal courts. A decision could come around the end of the month.

26 thoughts on “Wendy Thurm’s live tweets from antitrust hearing (Update: link to Fangraphs article)

  1. As perhaps the biggest SJ proponent on this site (sorry pjk), I’m also in the camp that this thing probably gets dismissed. Didn’t like the lawsuit in June and don’t like it now. Perhaps key to me was this: MLB stating that they haven’t made a decision yet concerning a possible relocation of the A’s, so why are you (San Jose) filing a lawsuit? Yes, I believe MLB is wrong to keep us (currently) hostage to the SF Giants and not revealing (or delaying) a decision regarding the A’s future, but to go the legal route at this point in the game is stupid IMHO. Now, IF San Jose had the entire Diridon plot acquired, cleared and ready for immediate construction (contracts with A’s and construction firms complete), then perhaps a lawsuit would make a little more sense. But now? I say no.
    If dismissed, PLEASE SAN JOSE, don’t appeal! Continue to work with Wolff on stadium plans and get the ENTIRE Diridon plot acquired, cleared and ready for construction. Also stop dangling a public referendum in front of MLB, especially if the land/stadium deal works out just like the Quakes SSS. Put your best foot forward and continue to work with Wolff/MLB; don’t antagonize them with more legal nonsense! GO A’s and GO $J!!

  2. An appeal to the 9th Circuit could take two years. Getting before the SCt would waste more years, if the Court were interested in hearing the case. Judge Whyte’s decision will be the big blow, one way or the other, I think. Sounds like he’s leaning toward mlb’s side, but who knows.

    Meanwhile, toward the end of next season, mlb will announce that the A’s can move to San Jose at some point in the future. Wolff/Fisher will get going with the City of San Jose to make it happen. that’s my guess.

  3. I was at the hearing. My gut feeling tells me Whyte is leaning towards MLB; however, it was not absolutely clear he would favor dismissing the case. Whoever wrote the SF Gate article “Judge Seems Unmoved in San Jose’s Bid to Get A’s” is misinforming the public. There was no one thing Whyte did to reveal his hand. I think we should just wait and see what happens. It wasn’t totally awful for San Jose, but it wasn’t totally good either.

    Judge Seems Unmoved in San Jose’s Bid to Get A’s (propaganda)

  4. As perhaps the biggest Oakland proponent on this site (that trys to be crazy), I agree with you 100%

  5. @Xoot,
    I respectfully disagree that the decision will be a “big blow” if it’s dismissed because nothing would change re the A’s new ballpark ambitions. Besides, in essence the judge would be telling San Jose that they have no case to potentially overturn MLB’s ATE; Whyte wouldn’t be telling San Jose your barred from ever obtaining the A’s. Status quo would remain until further notice…

  6. @Tony D. Again could not agree with you more, nothing has changed and in the end MLB may be asking SJ, to take the A’s, because if they stay in Oakland(if Fremont does not work as well), MLB will have to give Lew one hell of a deal.

  7. This is good news for Oakland. I like San Jose, its got some cool attractions, but I think the A’s should stay in Oakland.

    Does anyone know what the A’s owners will do if this lawsuit gets thrown out of court or dismissed?


  8. @xoot Not that I disagree, or have a problem with what you have said.

  9. If the case is dismissed, it will be pitched by the news media as “Oakland to keep the A’s,” even though we’re no closer to a solution in Oakland. There’s still no site, no money and the city unwilling to pay any of the costs.

  10. Steven: Was their any argument over the issue of market defintion?

  11. Xoot: Not to my knowledge, nothing stood out in terms of “market” related questions and arguments – I’ll have to go back through my notes. The hearing covered the main subjects being tossed around in the press today. MLB antitrust exemption. Curt Flood Act. Standing issues. State law. Speculative injuries. These issues were the biggies. I agree it is no slam dunk for SJ. My gut feeling is Judge Whyte is with MLB on Fed issues, maybe not state. Whyte said 3-4 times “If I side with MLB on the antitrust issue…” It was suspicious. But even if SJ loses the case, nothing really happens. SJ will be back where we were before the case… waiting…

  12. @Carlos,
    No, it would not be good news for the city of Oakland because this suit has no relevance to Oaklands ability (or inability) to build a ballpark for the A’s; very simple.

  13. Tony D: You msy think I’m San Jose-only, but it would be great if Quan was on TV the other day telling KTVU that the city is prepared to pay for half the costs of the ballpark, instead of the usual pitching of two unworkable sites, wanting Wolff to sell and not offering any city money for a ballpark. All of it adds up to – Oakland doesn’t have its act together. And it has had many, many years to do so.

  14. The Judge Whyte decision is first and foremost about the question of whether MLB’s ATE is upheld, and less about the question of whether the A’s should be allowed to move to San Jose. Yes, if Judge Whyte rules in favor of giving Standing to San Jose, then we would conclude that the A’s would likely and imminently be approved to move there. However, in the event the ruling goes against San Jose, it does not mean at all that San Jose will not be getting the A’s to move to their city. If the situation in Oakland and at the Coliseum remain problematic in terms of getting a potentially profitable new ballpark built for the A’s, and if all roads lead to San Jose, then MLB will ultimately approve the move of the franchise to San Jose. MLB will ultimately have to make the best decision for the A’s future in the Bay Area, regardless of its ATE status.

  15. Well it would be good news in that it wouldn’t be bad news, in a situation where bad news was definitely a possibility. When you’ve got two options, 0 and -50, 0 looks pretty good.

  16. @Carlos IMHO We are all reading to much into todays news, I dont think this is good news for Oakland, but if the San Jose suite does not go well it could be (big if), good news for Oakland if they can get there act together!! The vary fact that somthing is bad for San Jose does not mean it is good for Oakland, but it has a chance to be good news for Oakland. Bad news for San Jose could also be bad news for Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area, if that bad news cost the A’s their only chance to stay in the Bay Area, as a pro-Oakland fan I would say, to all proonly Oakland fans, watch what you wish for, it could be if San Jose cant get the A’s, it will only be good news for Portland, and not Oakland or the rest of us.

  17. I agree with her conclusion: “I would wager that Judge Whyte will dismiss the federal antitrust claims, either based on lack of standing or the antitrust exemption, or both. I’m less sure where his thinking is on the state law claims — both on the question of his jurisdiction to decide them if he dismisses the federal claims and on the merits of the claims. It is unusual for a court to dismiss a case outright on a motion to dismiss, without providing the plaintiff an opportunity to re-state its claims in light of the court’s decision. Unusual, but not unheard of.”

  18. If San Jose is eliminated from consideration and Oakland continues to be unwilling or unable to get a new ballpark done (telling the owner to spend $500-$700 million of his own money regardless of the risks involved is not a solution), then the A’s sit in Oakland until a) some other city far away comes up with a new ballpark, or b) the franchise is contracted. MLB wants to keep teams where they are, but Oakland is making that very difficult – unwilling to spend any money and demonizing the owner.

  19. Llpec nailed it! BTW, just read Thurms piece; I’m cool with her now 😉

  20. Selfishly, I hope that SJ loses the lawsuit, pulls the options, and forces MLB to run back to Oakland to only realize that there is nothing is happening there either. Screw MLB and BS….

  21. The Cotchett law firm said it is willing to go all the way to the SCOTUS if necessary. Even if the SJ vs MLB case does not receive standing, the gnats mgt, and Selig are not out of danger – SJ vs MLB is far from over, To start assuming this is good news for the gnats mgt. and A’s fans who wish that the team stay in Oaktown is premature.

  22. While I don’t know much about a lot of things, I do know that trying to read the tea leaves based on a judges questions is a exercise in futility. We can speculate but the reality is we will just have to wait and see.

    But if I had to make a guess, Fed out and State in.

  23. I agree with MrSteve5150 – there is something still nagging in the back of my head regarding the judges expressions. I feel like we saw a few questions that would have been asked regardless of his point of view. What matters is the shit the judge is reading – and how it is impacting his opinion – outside of court. He was well informed and said he read several cases. Today was probably not the whole story. But if he did want to do something provocative I think it would come in a ruling over time, not “soon”. He said he would get back to everyone “soon”. Which may or may not help SJ.

  24. If the Judge follows the Piazza case then San Jose wins there is no ATE for MLB period and he has to hear the Federal claims.

    MLB at the time was wise to settle with Piazza as they saw impending doom. The Judge has to respect the Piazza case and there has not been any precedent since to prove otherwise besides perhaps the Curt Flood Act.

    The Curt Flood Act the judge and Cotchett agreed it was specific to the reserve clause. Congress only repealed that piece leaving the rest to the courts to decide. Piazza’s case is the reason behind that as Congress did not want to open a bigger can of worms than they could handle at the time….Why do you think it is called the “Curt Flood Act”??….To narrowly show it only applies to the reserve system and that it cannot be used for anything other than that alone.

    The A/T injury to San Jose I get sounds “speculative” and the fact they are not building it themselves with their own dime or operating it is a bad argument. Just because San Jose negotiated a hell of a deal to lure a team should not hurt them.

    The land option being below market value is to spur development around the ballpark to create jobs and tax revenue from new businesses. Those things are obvious with new ballparks in SF, SD and to a lesser extent the Angels after their re-model…Their economic analysis is provable.

    The difference here is MLB has not said no to San Jose yet….that is a big grey area but the state claims define that well.

    On the state claims these questions really pop out to me.

    “Judge Whyte to Keker: Did Selig’s request to hold off on referendum create duty to decide promptly? Keker: No”


    “Is MLB ever going to make a decision? Keker: no direct answer. Says many factors in play and A’s haven’t met MLB’s std”

    Now what is MLB’s standard? That right there needs to head to discovery to see if MLB is acting properly or they are acting like an “illegal cartel”.

    The Federal Claims could go either way but the Judge has to look at Piazza and Curt Flood and judge accordingly and the fact MLB has not blocked SJ officially plays into it as well.

    The State Claims are obvious and will head to discovery. MLB will have to show why they are blocking San Jose and their logic behind it. That alone will force them to settle.

    Therefore I predict the State Claims move forward while the Federal Claims will as well. Because if the State ones move forward and San Jose wins the Federal piece will come back to play down the road. So the judge may as well look at the whole thing now and get it over with.

  25. Thanks Sid – good analysis. I would like to point out there was one exchange between Cotchett and the judge regarding Piazza. If I can remember right, Whyte did not know if Piazza was legit – he was questioning it. Whyte spent time on his computer to do some quick research as Crotchett kept talking. Crotchett told Whyte the case was reaffirmed by the Florida Supreme Court, but to me, it seemed as if Whyte was skeptical of Piazza.

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