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Monday, December 20, 2021

Minor League Teams Sue MLB To End Antitrust Carveout

Major League Baseball and its franchises illegally conspired to scrap 40 minor league clubs, according to a lawsuit Monday that aims to end the baseball antitrust exemption granted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922.

Four minor league clubs filed suit in Manhattan federal court challenging the MLB’s controversial 2019 decision to contract the minor league system from 160 teams to 120. The teams — former affiliates of the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers — said this was a horizontal agreement between the MLB and its 30 franchises that violates the Sherman Act.

For nearly 100 years, the Supreme Court’s decision in Federal Baseball Club v. National League has shielded MLB from Sherman Act claims. But the minor league teams said that the high court’s June ruling in NCAA v. Alston, which found that the NCAA is not exempt from antitrust scrutiny, has cleared the way for the justices to eliminate baseball’s own antitrust carveout.

“The time is at hand to cast the baseball exemption into the dustbin of antitrust history,” wrote the minor league clubs in Monday’s complaint.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 20, 2021 at 11:50 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: anti-trust exemption, minor leagues

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   1. sanny manguillen Posted: December 20, 2021 at 01:46 PM (#6058093)
From other articles:

The civil complaint, filed by David Lender (of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP) and Jim Quinn (Berg & Androphy, formerly of Weil)

Staten Island Yankees, Tri-City ValleyCats, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and Norwich Sea Unicorns
   2. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2021 at 02:54 PM (#6058103)
Assuming it's not dismissed, I assume MLB will settle this rather than risk losing the exemption. Not a lawyer (duh) but this would seem a hard one to win -- MLB is engaging in anti-trust behavior by forcing out businesses that don't compete with it by reducing the number of teams it subsidizes while not caring if those teams carry on without MLB's support. How did MLB drive you out of business? They refused to pay our main employees.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 20, 2021 at 03:06 PM (#6058106)
I suspect you're right, this is just a way to get MLB to settle and get some money to these clubs. Here's the complaint. Must of the argument seems to be that these clubs do compete against MLB in that MLB owns some of the clubs that didn't get shoved out, or have extensive connections with the clubs that are still affiliated.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2021 at 05:35 PM (#6058143)
Seems a fair point.
   5. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 20, 2021 at 06:53 PM (#6058150)
I think I saw Antitrust Carveout at CBGB's in '78.
   6. Brian C Posted: December 20, 2021 at 07:22 PM (#6058152)
On the other hand, in the unlikely event that this does lead to ending the antitrust exemption - it would be extremely fitting if it happened because Manfred and Co. decided kick some sand in the faces of a few minor league cities for no real gain. Sometimes you fall because you reach too high, and sometimes you fall because you're stooped over too low.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6058191)
Is there any actual legal grounds for the anti-trust exemption? It's a farce based on a lie (MLB not being inter-state commerce).

Even if the minor league teams don't win, the SC should say, "You guys get nothing, but this is a travesty and is over.
   8. Ron J Posted: December 21, 2021 at 10:17 AM (#6058195)
#7 The legal basis is an idiotic Supreme Court decision that a subsequent court acknowledged as nonsensical -- and said that Congress could overturn if they feel the need.

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