If the Athletics have a future in Northern California, then it will be in Oakland and nowhere else.
How long Billy Beane will be a part of it isn’t nearly as clear, however.
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear San Jose’s antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the city’s last remaining legal option to lure the A’s from Oakland. The franchise was not part of the lawsuit.
The decision amounts to another victory for the Giants, who have been firm in their refusal to relinquish territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
In 2013, San Jose sued MLB for conspiracy to block the relocation of the team. The city argued that the territorial rules violated federal antitrust laws, from which professional baseball has been exempt since a 1922 Supreme Court decision.
In a prepared statement, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said the decision would not affect the search for a new ballpark.
“Today the United States Supreme Court formally declined to consider the City of San Jose’s challenge to Major League Baseball’s longstanding antitrust exemption,” Wolff said. “The Court’s decision, while significant, has no impact on our intense and unwavering focus on solving our ballpark issue and providing A’s fans the first class experience they deserve.”
Last year, the A’s signed a 10-year lease for O.co Coliseum, the fifth oldest stadium in the major leagues. But they are required to stay only through the 2018 season. They prefer the current site for a new facility.
Meanwhile, in a carefully timed announcement on a busy sports day locally, the A’s announced that Beane had been promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations. Former assistant David Forst was elevated to the general manager position.
While Beane will continue to take on a greater role in areas such as international player procurement and contract negotiations, the decision process will remain much the same. Forst will oversee the day-to-day affairs of the baseball operations department and have input on personnel matters, and Beane will have the final approval.
Earlier this season, Beane indicated that more emphasis would be placed on the farm system at the expense of the major league product. When the rebuild is complete, speculation is that he may be ready to pursue other opportunities. The one-time outfielder has been with the organization since 1990, when he was hired as an advance scout.
Beane also serves as a consultant for a soccer team in Holland, one of his passions outside baseball.
“Specifically, as to what that [destination] would be, I probably had better keep that to myself,” Beane said. “[Soccer] is an interest of mine, yeah, but it has been for a long time. I’ve got plenty of work to do in Oakland right now.”
Since the 2014 All-Star break, Beane has been responsible for a number of ill-fated personnel moves. In that span, his team owns the worst record (97-133) in the major leagues.
“Billy Beane and David Forst have continually proven themselves to be two of the best baseball minds in the game today,” Wolff said in a prepared statement. “The team remains in great hands. We’re very fortunate to have not one but two executives of their caliber.”