Front-line combatants have been named in what could be an historic antitrust law suit between the City of San Jose and Major League Baseball regarding the inability of the Oakland A's to move to the South Bay City.
Based on legal scouting reports, this could be the most dynamic sports legal case since another case involving Oakland. That featured former San Francisco Mayor and renowned antitrust lawyer Joe Alioto for the Oakland Raiders vs. the NFL's lead counsel and future commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
In that historic case, Alioto prevailed, creating the dawn of franchise free agency in the NFL.
Major League Baseball made a statement Wednesday when it announced the hiring of a big hitter -- John W. Keker, a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest LLP -- to be lead counsel in the lawsuit filed in federal court by the City of San Jose on June 18.
The MLB statement reminds that Keker specializes in complex antitrust, commercial and intellectual property cases and his most high profile case was as the chief prosecutor in the Iran-Contra trial involving Oliver North in 1989.
San Jose is represented by Philip Gregory of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, who said last month that "The most important thing is for the A's to be able to move if they want" and that there is "no basis to believe that there will be settlement talks before (MLB commissioner Allan Huber "Bud") Selig responds to the complaint."
Based on scouting reports from the Bay Area lawyers familiar with the primary legal combatants, a quick settlement is unlikely.
"It will be a battle of titans for Keker to be going up against Joe Cotchett," one prominent Bay Area lawyer told The Sports Xchange. "Not sure how all of the egos will fit inside the courtroom. "
In the lawsuit, San Jose is suing the MLB over its refusal to allow the A's to relocate from Oakland, in Alameda County, to a location in nearby Santa Clara County. The MLB's position is that the neighboring San Francisco Giants hold territorial rights to the county, thus preventing a move there by the A's. And the MLB's ancient antitrust exemption may also be a key aspect.
Many observers in the legal community believe the A's-Giants territorial issue is a paper-thin position because the deal between the Giants and A's was somewhat of a gentlemen's agreement at the time and can easily be sidestepped.
In its complaint, San Jose contends that prohibiting the move is anticompetitive and should not be allowed. The MLB says it is merely operating under a long-standing exemption from antitrust regulation. The A's are not named in the lawsuit because owner Lewis "Lew" Wolff is in favor of the move.
Professional baseball has operated under a unique exemption from U.S. antitrust law since 1922. The initial exemption was granted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision stating that baseball is not classified as interstate commerce. Although most legal minds consider the underpinnings of that decision to be antiquated, it has managed to stand up to attack thus far.
---Former major-league outfielder Milton Bradley was sentenced to 32 months in jail on Tuesday after he was convicted last month of spousal abuse.
In addition, Bradley was ordered to perform 400 hours of community service and complete a year of domestic violence counseling and an anger management program.
Known for his volatile personality, Bradley attacked or threatened his wife five times between 2011 and 2012 and could have received up to 7 1/2 years behind bars. At the end of a four-week trial in June, Bradley was convicted ith nine misdemeanor counts, including four for spousal battery and one for assault with a deadly weapon.
Bradley appealed the conviction and he is free on $250,000 bond. His next court date is set for August.
Bradley, 35, and his wife are currently pursuing a divorce. They have been married for five years and have two children.
Bradley last played in the majors in 2011.
---The Toronto Blue Jays designated pitcher Chien-Ming Wang for assignment after a rough outing on Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers.
Wang was pounded for six runs and eight hits in the second inning by the Tigers, who were trailing 4-0 and went on to post a 7-6 victory.
It was the second bad game in a row for Wang. Last weekend against the Boston Red Sox, the 33-year-old gave up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings.
In five starts for the Blue Jays this season, Wang was 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA.
---Veteran right-hander Carlos Zambrano will be out for a month with a lat strain, the Philadelphia Phillies announced.
An MRI revealed the injury after a shoulder problem surfaced in Zambrano's last start in Triple-A.
Signed to a minor league contract last month that gave the Phillies a July 1 opt-out date, Zambrano will be shut down while the injury heals. The Phillies were hoping he might be able to rejuvenate his career and provide another arm for their rotation.
Zambrano had posted an impressive 2.04 ERA in seven minor league starts spanning 35 innings, but his fastball was only clocked in the high 80 mph range and a cause for concern.
The 32-year-old last pitched in the major leagues for the Miami Marlins in 2012, posting a 7-10 record with a 4.49 ERA in 20 starts and 35 games. He spent the first 11 years of his career with the Chicago Cubs and compiled a 125-81 record.
---Injured Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun is not expected to return to the Brewers' lineup until after the All-Star break.
Braun has missed the past two weeks with a thumb injury and, while swinging a bat in a cage on Tuesday was an encouraging sign, Roenicke thinks he will know more after Braun took swings for the second day in a row.
Braun took practice swings only and did not hit a baseball on Tuesday in the batting cage at Nationals Park in Washington, where the Brewers are playing.
The 29-year-old Braun is hitting .304 with nine home runs and 36 RBI in 57 games this season.
---The Washington Nationals reached agreement on a minor league contract with veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach.
Shoppach, who was released two weeks ago by the Seattle Mariners, will report to Triple-A, according to CSNWashington.com. His adddition to the roster gives the Nationals some depth behind the plate with Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos in front of Shoppach.
The 33-year-old played in 35 games with the Mariners this year and batted .196 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
---Outfielder Carl Crawford could be back with the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.
Crawford, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, played his third game for the Dodgers' high-Class A affiliate on Tuesday. He went 1-for-4, making him 4-for-10 in the three rehab games, and has played in left field during the last two.
With the Dodgers this season, Crawford is hitting .301 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 51 games.
The 31-year-old Crawford came to the Dodgers in a trade with the Boston Red Sox last August but did not play until this season while he was rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery last year.
---Relief pitcher Jon Rauch was given his release by the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-10 right-hander pitched in Triple-A for the past month, posting a 2.89 ERA in 9 1/3 innings, but had not earned a call-up to the majors.
Rauch was released earlier this year by the Miami Marlins after he posted a 1-2 record and gave up 14 runs in 16 2/3 innings.
---The Texas Rangers are taking a stab at Manny Ramirez, signing the 41-year-old veteran to a minor-league contract, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Ramirez left a team in Taiwan last month to pursue another opportunity in the major leagues. Ramirez will report to the Rangers' Triple-A Round Rock team, according to the Morning News.
In 49 games for the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan, Ramirez hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs but quit in the middle of the season, saying he was homesick and wanted to return to the United States.
Ramirez has not played in the major leagues since 2011 after he tested positive for high levels of testosterone and received a suspension that he served last year in the minor leagues with the Oakland A's organization.
---The Cleveland Indians reinstated outfielder Michael Bourn from the three-day paternity list and sent left-hander Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus, the team announced Wednesday before its game against the Kansas City Royals.