The Oakland A's still played in Oakland in Sept. 2013. Photo: Kwong Yee Cheng/Flickr
The Oakland A’s still played in Oakland in Sept. 2013. (Kwong Yee Cheng/Flickr)

Update, 11:15 a.m. Friday: The hearing is over. Joe Cotchett, the lawyer representing San Jose, says he expects a decision in 20 to 30 days. Reporters covering the hearing conveyed the impression that Judge Ronald Whyte seemed to buy Major League Baseball’s argument that its antitrust exemption bars the lawsuit and that San Jose doesn’t have any standing to bring an antitrust suit in any case because its alleged injuries — economic damage and interference with its contract with the A’s — are speculative. Cotchett said that no matter how Whyte rules, the case will wind up in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earlier this week, the late Bill King, the voice of the Oakland Athletics from 1981 through 2005, was announced as a finalist for the fourth year in a row for the National Baseball Hall of Fame‘s Ford C. Frick Award.

Original post: U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte is holding a hearing this morning on the city of San Jose’s suit accusing Major League Baseball of violating federal antitrust law by blocking the owners of the Oakland A’s from moving the team to the South Bay. The hearing features two Bay Area legal heavyweights — Joe Cotchett for San Jose and John Keker for the major leagues.

San Jose sued after waiting for more than four years for baseball — meaning Commissioner Bud Selig and the 30 team owners — to take action on the A’s relocation request. The move has been blocked by the San Francisco Giants, who hold territorial rights to the South Bay and argue the area is crucial to their franchise’s success. Major League Baseball has responded that the city has no standing to file the suit and that it’s protected by more than 90 years of court decisions and lawmaking that uphold its exemption from antitrust laws.

Best live coverage of this morning’s hearing: Live tweeting from freelance baseball writer Wendy Thurm. Here’s a sample (also tweeting: Lauren Hepler of the Silicon Valley Business Journal):

Here’s how the San Jose Mercury News described the city’s lawsuit when it was filed in June:

After four-plus years of waiting to hear whether the Oakland A’s will be allowed to move to San Jose, the city filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Major League Baseball in a bid to shake up a game seemingly stuck in extra innings.

The lawsuit accused MLB of a “blatant conspiracy” to deprive San Jose of a major league baseball team by granting the San Francisco Giants exclusive territorial rights to San Jose, which the defending World Series champions refuse to relinquish.

“For years, MLB has unlawfully conspired to control the location and relocation of major league men’s professional baseball clubs under the guise of an ‘antitrust exemption’ applied to the business of baseball,” said the 44-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

And here’s how the Merc characterized Major League Baseball’s response, which came in August.

Lawyers for Major League Baseball on Wednesday moved to toss the lawsuit out of court, arguing in legal papers that a federal judge should dismiss the case because its claims are barred by baseball’s antitrust exemption and the fact it would lead to “absurd results” for the sport and cities around the country.

In addition, the league argues that San Jose cannot show it has been injured by baseball’s indecision over whether to allow the A’s to move to the city because of the San Francisco Giants’ claim of territorial rights to the South Bay.

“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.”

Here’s our Storify summary of key moments live-tweeted from this morning’s hearing:


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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