MLB hires big hitter for legal battle with San Jose 

Front-line combatants have been named in what could be a historic antitrust lawsuit between San Jose and Major League Baseball regarding the inability of the 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 Joe Alioto, former San Francisco mayor and renowned antitrust lawyer, 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 — to be lead counsel in the lawsuit filed in federal court by the city of San Jose on June 18.

The MLB statement says 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 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.

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