- Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211 game suspension for alleged violations of baseball’s drug agreement.
- Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuits against the MLB and MLB’s Commissioner Bud Selig for a so-called “witch hunt” against Alex in violation of MLB’s collective bargaining agreements.
- San Jose’s antitrust suit against MLB for not allowing the Oakland A’s to move to San Jose.
The first good news the MLB received was the ruling that Alex Rodriguez’s suit against the MLB needed to be presented to a federal court instead of a state court. The MLB’s request had a procedural purpose because the MLB believes (and will soon file for) that a federal judge will dismiss the lawsuit. In addition to their belief that a federal judge will dismiss this case, who would you rather have rule on your case? Judges who have lived in New York City cheering for a local sports team that employs a popular player who brought these New York City fans a World Series championship or a judge from Indiana?
The second bit of good news for the MLB was a federal judge dismissing San Jose’s antitrust suit against MLB.
The A’s would like to move out of the only professional baseball stadium that is shared with a football team so the city of San Jose offered downtown land to the Oakland A’s to entice them to switch locations to San Jose. The MLB, unlike any other professional sports league, pick and choose where their teams are located. The MLB has said that the San Jose area belongs to the San Francisco Giants and won’t allow the Oakland A’s to move there.
San Jose didn’t take to kindly to the MLB not allowing the A’s to move to them, so they filed an antitrust lawsuit against the MLB. Antitrust law regulates what companies can do in order to promote a spirit of fair competition for consumers. For example, if all of the gas stations of San Jose got together and determined a gallon of gas would be $17 that would violate antitrust law. We want the free market to determine gas prices so consumers get the cheapest gas or best benefit. San Jose is arguing that the MLB is violating antitrust laws because they aren’t allowing the A’s to pick what is best for their fans or end consumer. They are “restricting” what the A’s can do as a business.
Here is where it gets fun: The MLB argued (successfully) that although there are antitrust laws in place, they are exempt from them. How do you think a judge would rule if when you were arguing your recent speeding ticket your argument was that you were exempt from the State of California traffic laws?
Funny enough, the MLB is kind of right.
There is a long standing “tradition” that the MLB is the ONLY professional sports league exempt from antitrust law. This all started in 1922 when the Supreme Court decided the MLB doesn’t participate in interstate commerce (business across state borders which makes you subject to antitrust law). In a later case before the Supreme Court, the Court decided that as of 1972, the MLB now was interstate commerce. HOWEVER, since Congress hasn’t changed the exemption that the Supreme Court gave them, the Court ruled Congress intended for the MLB to have this exemption. Last week the federal judge said he is bound by this Supreme Court decision in addition to the continuing Congressional lack of action against the MLB’s antitrust exemption.
So, if the Supreme Court is making rulings that Congress can’t change and the courts can’t overturn those rulings because of precedent by the Supreme Court, you can imagine the uphill climb San Jose faces on the appeal they claim they will be pursuing.
Who would you pick to hear your appeal? Congress who is in the midst of a government shutdown or the court’s appeal process? This Looks like a perfect case to appear before the Supreme Court in a few years.
Ironically, this post was written while watching on television the Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals, and Dodgers play via a “non-interstate” form of communication.
Either way, it was a good week for the MLB on and off the field.
If you’d like to read more about the MLB’s Antitrust Exemption, read ESPN’s Darren Rovell’s “Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption Q & A”.