Until Prince Fielder officially signs with the Rangers after the Darvish Deadline [next Wednesday, January 18th at 5 p.m. ET], the Texas organization must maintain the appearance of negotiating in good faith with the Japanese pitcher, or risk running afoul of anti-trust laws, which could then cause MLB to lose its sweetheart exemption [or, in Cowboy English “unlimited monopoly.”]
Even just the whiff of the possibility that they are not making a “good faith” offer could bring some self-righteous Congressman out of a bar or brothel to demand a review of MLBs’ special arrangement with the U. S. government. Baseball is the only sport, or business, in the United States with such a broad exemption. The Commissioner of MLB provides oversight, but is elected by the owners. Selig, who reluctantly agreed to serve as “Interim” Commissioner in 1992, was just given a 2-year extension by a 29-1 vote.
In 1922 the Supreme Court ruled against the Baltimore baseball team, a member of the Federal League that operated as a major league in 1914-15, had sued the National and American Leagues, charging the Federal League’s inability to sign players was due to antitrust violations.
[SEE Note after article for further definition and links.]
Texas manager Ron Washington recently sprayed some “Happy Talk Fabreeze” to strike out the whiff of “bad faith” in the Darvish Deal. After speaking with Darvish last week and watching tape of him, Washington said: “He’s got great mechanics…He throws strikes… He’s got four or five good pitches.” Washington said Darvish has a sharp mind. “He remembers who he faced and what he did and what they did against him,” Washington said. “I think he’ll fit in nicely with our young kids. He’s still young himself.”
He also said: “With his skills and his talent, if we happen to get him signed, I’m more than certain that we will be able to make sure that he will be productive…”
“Lifetime Interim Commissioner” Bud Selig is wearing his Happy Face makeup and his lucky pair of used car salesman patent leather shoes, because he is scared shitless that some Soapbox Monkey in Congress may drag his sorry ass into a hearing room, as one did in 1972 with the Curt Flood case, about dereliction of duty and due diligence, if he does not properly enforce the “good faith” concept with the Texas Rangers in their offer to Yu Darvish.
If any person in congress in the House or Senate plays the Grandstand For Re-election card and opens a hearing to determine if anyone in the Texas Rangers organization privately conspired to make the Darvish deal fail, for lack of “good faith” effort, Bud Light will be in front of the media klieg lights in the Capitol.
If baseball’s exemption were lifted, real fans might be able to afford tickets, and teams would stop holding cities hostage.
Bud and baseball are terrified that such a probe would inexorably lead to a call to review the counter intuitive indulgence granted to MLB regarding anti-trust crimes. Recall that, when attorney Bill Shea and Branch Rickey were plotting a way to get a National league franchise for NYC, after O’Malley and Horace “Stoned Ham” kidnapped the Giants and Dodgers in 1957, they announced the founding of a rival league, the Continental League.
Horrified that a new league would exhume the anti-trust issue, MLB capitulated and rushed through an expansion plan that awarded NL franchises to Houston and New York.
In 1972, the player’s union challenged baseball’s antitrust exemption in the case of Flood v. Kuhn. Once again, the Supreme Court held that the elimination of baseball’s antitrust exemption should be decided by Congress and not the courts. Since Congress had addressed this issue on many occasions without taking action, it was held that longstanding Congressional inaction on this issue was a sign that Congress does not intend for baseball to be subject to the antitrust laws. [http://www.swlearning.com/economics/policy_debates/baseball.html]
If you promise to not breathe a word of this…pinky swear, here is the deal:
It is common knowledge that Darvish wants $100 million, or so and the Rangers have offered $72 million, or so.
Commissar Selig, the Rangers, the agent, Scott “You Totally” Boras and Fielder all know that the Prince is requiring a 10-year deal for about $250 million. [Rumor is that he may take $240 million, plus ONE dollar, so it is more than Albert Pujols got.]
The one-per-centers who own the Nationals will not budge on the length of the contract; they have offered a shorter deal with a little more money per year than the Decade Deal that Fielder demands.
A baseball source told MLB.com on Wednesday that the Nationals were unwilling to meet Fielder’s asking price and were concerned about his conditioning over the course of a long-term contract. [If the Prince grew out to “King Size” and became too heavy to play in the field, he could not be used as a DH in the National League, but could in the American League if he were, say, on the Texas Rangers.]
Perhaps…perhaps…the Rangers [plural noun] believe they have met the letter of the “good faith” law by making what they judge to be a “very reasonable offer.” Perhaps they would rather put that $100 million toward a Decade Deal, say $250 million with the Prince who will likely be the best hitter in MLB for the next 10 years.
Then, the Rangers make no counter offer to Darvish and, unless he comes all the way down to their offer of $72 million, the Texas team can say: “Gee…gosh darn…we really wanted Yu…” They shed a few armadillo tears at a press conference, praise Darvish lavishly and try to keep a straight face for legal reasons.
Then, a few days later, at the same location, they announce: “Gee whiz…and golly gee…Mr. Fielder says he wants to play for our team. Well, shucks, who would turn him down for a measly quarter of a BILLION dollars…”
They place the Rangers cap on the head of the Prince; Fielder holdS the uniform top in front of his, smiles broadly, says he is “delighted that the Rangers want me…” and “I am glad that I will play with a very competitive team for many years.”
Rangers get Fielder and several World Series appearances; Fielder gets his Decade Deal; MLB keeps its monopoly in place; Bud keeps his for life [$22 million per year, including use of a private jet] and, oh, yeah: the Red Sox are shut out of the World Series for ten years
End of story.
[POSTSCRIPT: If you ever run into Bud Selig, please do me a big favor: get your camera ready for his reaction and say “anti-trust” and get a shot of his face as he experiences a sudden rush of shit to the heart.]
Q: What is the antitrust exemption and how did baseball get it?
A: Any business that operates across state borders — and therefore participates in interstate commerce — is subject to antitrust legislation. Attempts to control trade and monopolize may be deemed illegal by federal circuit courts under the Sherman and Clayton acts.
Baseball has been exempt from these antitrust laws since 1922, when the Supreme Court ruled in its favor in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball Clubs. The Supreme Court determined even though there was scheduling of games across state lines, those games were intrastate events since the travel from one state to another was “not the essential thing,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in the decision.
Baltimore, a member of the Federal League that operated as a major league in 1914-15, had sued the National and American Leagues, charging the Federal League’s inability to sign players was due to antitrust violations.
At the time of the 1922 ruling, the National and American Leagues were merely umbrella organizations. They arranged the schedules and set the rules, but the business was entirely local in the sense that there was no revenue sharing, no radio or television and no national sponsors or licensing deals.
• The History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption – Beyond the Box Score
Dec 3, 2008 – The history of the antitrust exemption in major league baseball.
• Why does baseball have an antitrust exemption? – Slate Magazine
Jul 19, 2002 – Baseball is in trouble, again. Another player strike looms. The World Series may be canceled for the second time in a decade. Commissioner …
• Baseball Prospectus | Ending Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption
Nov 26, 2001 – Baseball’s exemption from antitrust laws–which prohibit actions that unreasonably restrain competition–stems from a 1922 Supreme Court …
• Federal Baseball Club v. National League – Wikipedia, the free …
Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 (1922), is a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to …
• South-Western: Should the antitrust exemption for baseball be …
In 1972, the player’s union challenged baseball’s antitrust exemption in the case of Flood v. Kuhn. Once again, the Supreme Court held that the elimination of …
• What exactly is Major League Baseball’s anti-trust exemption …
Tags: Agent Allen Barra Anti-trust Antitrust Antitrust Exemption Bill Shea Bowie Kuhn Branch Rickey Brooklyn Dodgers Bud Selig Congress Continental League Curt Flood Exemption Exemption Prince Fielder Expansion Federal League Houston Astros Laws Manager MLB MLB Commishioner MLB.com Monopoly New York Giants New York Mets O'Malley Ron Washington Ruled Scott Boras Sherman And Clayton Acts Sherman Antitrust Act Stoneham Supreme Court Texas Rangers Washington Nationals Yu Darvish “good Faith”