A San Jose city councilman is urging the city to sue MLB to force the Giants to stop blocking the A’s from moving.
The Mecury News reported on Sunday that San Jose Councilman Sam Liccardo is requesting his city to sue MLB. Their argument is that MLB’s anti-trust status is preventing the A’s to move to San Jose. And, thus, MLB is blocking the A’s and the City of San Jose from making money.
If baseball has taught us anything, it is the power of the underdog. If your team is knocked out, you root for the most non-Yankee team to win it all. Your hopes go into the little guy to give the big bully a knock on the nose.
No team is more synonymous to the “little guy” than the Oakland Athletics. They are a small payroll of a team filled with small names in a small city slowly dying. Heck, even their nickname gets knocked down to a single letter – the A’s.
They just want to win and succeed. Whatever success they may find is quickly taken from them. They watched their beloved Bash Brothers leave to clubs that could pay them just like they watched big-market teams take their “Moneyball” ideas; all while watching the deep pockets of the San Francisco Giants flourish.
Alas, sometimes the hard-luck is self-made misery.
Shortly after the A’s defeated their rivals across the bay in 1989, the Giants’ bid for a new stadium was defeated at the polls. The team was being sold to a group wanting to relocate them to St. Petersburg, Florida. No more baseball in San Francisco. The A’s owner stepped in and gave away the rights to the South Bay for free. It was a good guy gesture to help a neighbor in need.
The Giants ended up getting bought by a new owner. First act was signing Barry Bonds. The second was getting a downtown stadium built. More importantly, it made the Bay Area the only region that got subdivided between teams.
Now, the cards have been redealt and the A’s are the ones needing to relocate. Oakland lacks the vital corporate base and has a declining population to go along with a cement pit built for football they call a stadium.
In comes, even a ‘littler’ guy, San Jose.
San Jose is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. They have a great corporate base and a downtown location perfect for baseball. The A’s want to go and their old fans in Oakland won’t have to travel far to bang their drums in the stands. The only problem is the Giants still own the rights to Santa Clara County.
And like a bad neighbor, what is now theirs will stay theirs.
Four years ago, Bud Selig appointed a “blue ribbon council” to investigate and weigh in. Last January, Selig said solving the issue was the top priority of baseball and expected an answer by the end of last February. A year has come and gone. Another year stuck in Oakland.
The Giants are technically in the right. They own the area. They spent marketing dollars building up the fan base. The assumption would be a cash payment by the A’s much like the Expos paid to the Orioles before moving into Washington D.C. However, the Giants aren’t being forthcoming since they aren’t forced. And who blames them? Baseball is a business after all. A’s owner, Lew Wolff, has been patient for an answer by his good friend Selig. The assumption has to be that he doesn’t want to rock the boat.However, that hasn’t stopped the Giants from actively picking on the little San Jose.
The “we own you, so don’t try anything funny” actions have gone from bad neighbors to flat-out bullying. The same law firm that represents the Giants was behind a supposed non-profit called “Stand for San Jose”. That group filed an anonymous lawsuit to stop an environmentally study to build the new 35,000 seat stadium in downtown San Jose. A successful motion allowed the backers to be made publically known.
In legal terms, that is the equivalent of Scooby-Doo pulling off the mask of the monster to reveal the old man trying to mess with the upstart kids.
So, what is left for the little guys -- Oakland and San Jose -- against their bad neighbors? Sue, of course.
As Liccardo writes on his website, “A 2010 report revealed that [San Diego Padres’] Petco Park (during the depths of the Great Recssion) incentivized annual sales tax revenue of over $2.1 million, more than $17 million in property taxes, and $1.8 billion in private investment.” That is a lot of money and development to deny another city. While I understand that could go towards Oakland if the A’s stay, the City of Oakland wouldn’t be able to generate that kind of money. They lack the corporate base and the private investment on the same level of San Jose. San Jose is growing and Oakland is not. Simply put.
I asked one of my die-hard Giants fans to comment about San Jose suing. His response was, “Dibs. We planted a flag.”
That very well may be the Giants response albeit with more legal mumbo-jumbo tossed in. Right or wrong, they own the rights. They were given dibs for free and claimed San Jose. However, the hope of the lawsuit would be to prompt action by MLB. With approval of Wolff, the lawsuit may go forth. However, Liccardo doesn’t want to act without the A’s approval. In the meantime, Wolff asked Oakland for a five-year stadium lease extension to give them time to figure out their next move.
In legal terms, a San Jose lawsuit is the equivalent of asking the teacher to trudge out into the yard and settle a dispute in the sandbox between two kids fighting over candy.
Of course, if the lawsuit fails, then San Jose will still be the other little brother to San Francisco while the A’s fanbase does its best not to resemble the Phoenix Coyotes.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/
Photo Credit: getty