When Liquid Plumr failed to clear things up, the city filed suit.
The lawsuit argues MLB’s decree that the San Francisco Giants have exclusive territorial rights to San Jose, which the defending World Series champions refuse to relinquish, constitutes unlawful restraint of trade.
“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. The suit, which accuses MLB of a “blatant conspiracy,” is being handled at no cost to the city by the Burlingame law firm of Joseph W. Cotchett, which has handled some of the largest antitrust cases in the nation and represented the NFL in similar litigation. ...
“Whereas baseball may have started as a local affair,” the lawsuit said, “modern baseball is squarely within the realm of interstate commerce. MLB Clubs ply their wares nationwide, games are broadcast throughout the country on satellite TV and radio, as well as cable channels, and MLB Clubs have fan bases that span from coast to coast.”
But lower court rulings on the exemption since the early 1970s have gone both ways, leaving it unclear how the Supreme Court might rule if it chose to revisit the issue.
“Since the law is so murky, there’s no uncontroversial answer,” said Stuart Banner, who teaches law at the University of California, Los Angeles and has just written a book, The Baseball Trust, a History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption. “It all depends on which group of cases you think is more persuasive.”