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The Supreme Court Might Reconsider MLB’s Antitrust Exemption

Successfully suing Major League Baseball under federal antitrust law is no easy task. Not only does the league typically hire the best legal representation money can buy, but it is also the beneficiary of a unique, judicially-created antitrust exemption generally shielding it from liability under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Nevertheless, an enterprising plaintiff every so often decides to try his or her luck at convincing a court to set aside baseball’s exemption and hold MLB liable for various, allegedly anticompetitive practices.

These challengers typically hope to overcome baseball’s antitrust exemption in either of two ways. Initially, the plaintiffs usually try to persuade the trial court that the exemption does not apply to whichever of MLB’s business practices is at issue in the case, asserting that the league’s legal protection should instead be narrowly construed.

And — as is the case more often than not — when that strategy fails to work, the plaintiff’s fallback plan is to hope to be able to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its prior decisions affirming the exemption and instead hold that MLB is no longer immune from legal challenge under the Sherman Act.

Two such cases contesting MLB’s antitrust exemption are currently before the Supreme Court, both of which have been covered here previously at FanGraphs during their earlier stages of litigation.

In the first case, Wyckoff v. Office of the Commissioner, two former scouts have accused MLB teams of illegally colluding to depress the market for the services of professional and amateur scouts. Meanwhile, the second case — Right Field Rooftops v. Chicago Cubs — involves a claim that the Cubs have unlawfully attempted to monopolize the market for watching their games in-person by purchasing a number of the formerly competing rooftop businesses operating across the street from Wrigley Field and also blocking the view of some of the remaining rooftops by installing new, expanded scoreboards.

In each case, the plaintiffs failed to convince the trial court to construe the league’s antitrust immunity narrowly, and now they must hope they can convince the Supreme Court to reconsider the nearly century-old exemption it first created back in 1922.

Unlike most previous challenges to the antitrust exemption, however, the Wyckoff and Rooftop plaintiffs are not necessarily asking the Supreme Court to directly overrule its prior decisions and strip MLB of its antitrust immunity. Instead, the parties are primarily urging the Court to take their respective cases to clarify just how broadly baseball’s exemption ought to apply.

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Whither the Independent Leagues?

Last week, Congress passed — and President Trump’s signed into law — the Save America’s Pastime Act as part of the omnibus spending bill funding the operation of the federal government for the foreseeable future. As Sheryl Ring and I each noted last week, the act created a new exemption to the federal minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws applying to minor-league baseball players.

Specifically, under the new provision that went into effect on Friday, so long as Major League Baseball pays its minor leaguers the federal minimum wage for 40 hours per week during the regular season, the players will not be entitled to any additional pay for overtime or offseason work under federal law.

Although most commentators initially focused on the effect the provision is likely to have on those playing for one of MLB’s affiliated minor-league teams, Baseball America‘s J.J. Cooper noted last week that the new exemption could have dire implications for teams belonging to non-MLB-affiliated, so-called independent minor leagues (such as the American Association, Atlantic League, Frontier League, and Pacific Association). Yahoo’s Jeff Passan expressed a similar concern on Monday, while SB Nation’s Marc Normandin argued that these independent teams deserve to go out of business if they cannot afford to pay their most important employees the minimum wage.

Undoubtedly, the obligation to pay players the minimum wage would likely impose a financial hardship on many independent-league teams. But it’s not at all clear that that will actually be the end result of the Save America’s Pastime Act.

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The Remaining Path Forward for Minor-League Players

Much digital ink has been spilt regarding the plight of minor-league baseball players. Dating back to the filing of the first minor-league wage lawsuit in back 2014, countless pieces have been written denouncing Major League Baseball for paying minor-league players a sub-minimum wage. Indeed, the optics of an organization that generates $10 billion dollars per year in revenues electively deciding to pay thousands of its full-time employees at below a subsistence level is — needless to say — not great.

So it was not surprising that the news that Congress appears posed to officially exclude minor leaguers from (at least some of) the protections afforded under federal wage and hour laws resulted in an immediate wave of outcry by numerous commentators. Specifically, as Sheryl Ring discussed earlier in the week, news reports emerged on Sunday night that, after years of persistent lobbying efforts, MLB was posed to succeed in persuading Congress to include a provision in its omnibus spending bill that would exempt minor-league players from Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law establishing the minimum wage and overtime rules that millions of Americans take for granted.

On Wednesday night, the actual language of the provision that Congress would be voting on was released:

In some respects, the specific legislative language is better than critics had anticipated. Rather than entirely excluding minor leaguers from the right to the minimum wage — as had originally been feared — the provision’s focus was actually a bit narrower. Instead, it simply provides that minor league players are not entitled to overtime benefits when working more than 40 hours in a week, so long as they are otherwise paid a weekly salary compliant with the federal minimum wage (at least during baseball’s regular season). In other words, the exemption doesn’t deprive players of the right to the minimum wage, just to overtime compensation.

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A Possible Path Forward for the MLBPA

Over the last couple weeks, I have taken a look at the unenviable position in which the Major League Baseball Players Association currently finds itself. Although the glacial pace of free-agent signings this offseason has helped to highlight the extent to which the sport’s existing economic model increasingly favors ownership, the union is relatively powerless to change its trajectory.

Indeed, because there is currently not much of value that the players can offer the owners in collective bargaining, the union has comparatively little leverage over the owners, and thus presently would appear to have relatively little hope of substantially improving its position in the next round of CBA negotiations in 2021 (although much can, of course, change between now and then).

That does not necessarily mean the union’s position is hopeless; however, securing the sort of modifications to the game’s economic structure that will be necessary to substantially improve the players’ financial position may require the MLBPA to engage in some outside-the-box thinking, at least as compared to its recent operating procedure. And as Buster Olney recently observed, it’s never too early for the union to develop a long-term strategy ahead of the 2021 CBA negotiations.

So what can the union do? Realistically, because the owners are unlikely to voluntarily agree to substantially better the players’ financial position, the MLBPA will probably have to adopt a more adversarial negotiating posture in 2021 than it has in recent years if it wishes to substantially change the current economic structure of the sport. That would mean that players should be ready to head into the 2021 CBA talks anticipating a work stoppage, potentially a rather lengthy one.

And it also means that the union should at least consider preparing to do what for many would have long been  unthinkable: disband the MLBPA. While certainly a drastic step, dissolving the union could help provide the players with additional leverage of the sort needed to secure some real concessions from ownership, concessions of the sort that could meaningfully improve the players’ financial position.

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The Threat of a Strike Might Not Help the MLBPA

Last week, I took a look at the unenviable position in which the Major League Baseball Players Association currently finds itself — and, in particular, the relative lack of leverage it is likely to have over ownership during the next round of collective bargaining in 2021.

In addition to noting that there are few substantive concessions the union could offer ownership, my post last week also briefly discounted the extent to which the threat of a work stoppage would benefit the players. The point probably merited further discussion, however, so this post is intended to more comprehensively explain my thinking in that regard.

How a Work Stoppage Would Most Likely Arise

To begin, it’s important to understand how a work stoppage would likely unfold during the next round of collective bargaining. As I previously explained back in 2016, any labor stoppage in Major League Baseball would — at least for the foreseeable future — most likely come in the form of a lockout by ownership rather than a strike by the players.

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The MLBPA Has No Leverage

The story of the offseason thus far has been the lack of activity on the free-agent market. As has been thoroughly covered elsewhere, this offseason is the slowest in recent memory, with seven of FanGraphs’ top-10 free agents still unsigned halfway through January.

Not only has this lack of activity generated considerable speculation regarding the cause of the offseason’s glacial pace (with theories ranging from a subpar group of free agents and a lack of competitive races to outright collusion), but it has also triggered talk about what the Major League Baseball Players Association should do in response.

Indeed, as I noted back in 2015, major-league players have seen their share of MLB’s overall league revenue plummet in recent years, with player payroll as a share of league revenues falling from a high of 56% in 2002 to just 38% in 2015. So while this offseason’s lack of activity may be unprecedented, in some respects it is simply the culmination of a trend dating back 15 years.

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Major League Baseball and Workers’ Comp

Largely overlooked amidst the hoopla surrounding last weekend’s Super Bowl, DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association, weighed in on an obscure bill currently working its way through the Illinois state legislature. If enacted into law, the proposed legislation — presently dubbed Illinois Senate Bill 12 — would amend the state’s workers’ compensation laws to decrease the benefits provided to professional athletes who sustain career-ending injuries on the playing field.

This possibility led Smith to threaten that, if Senate Bill 12 were to be signed into law, the NFLPA would officially encourage players to steer clear of signing with the Chicago Bears. As Smith stated over the weekend, “If you’re a free-agent player and you have an opportunity to go play somewhere else… isn’t a smarter financial decision to go to a team where a bill like this hasn’t passed?”

The fact that the NFLPA would take such a public stance against the proposed Illinois legislation raises the question of what potential impact Senate Bill 12 would have on Major League Baseball players, and, more generally, how workers’ compensation laws affect MLB in the first place.

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Braves, D-backs in Litigation with Cities Over Stadium Leases

Currently, more than 75% of major-league teams — 23 out of 30, to be exact — play their home games in stadiums publicly owned by a local government entity. Each of these relationships between the franchise and its host municipality is, in turn, governed by a contract specifying the terms under which the government has leased its stadium to the MLB team.

As one might expect, disagreements between the franchises and their local communities occasionally arise under these lease agreements. Recently, two such disputes — one involving the Atlanta Braves and the other involving the Arizona Diamondbacks — progressed to the point that the team or local municipality opted to file a lawsuit against the other in state court.

S.M.P. Community Fund v. Atlanta Braves

In late December, the Atlanta Braves were sued in local state court by the S.M.P. Community Fund, an entity formed by the City of Atlanta to distribute funds generated by the Braves’ former stadium — Turner Field — throughout the local community. Under the terms of the Braves’ lease agreement, the team was obligated to contribute 8.25% of the parking revenue it generated at Turner Field, along with 25% of the net revenue generated from any special events held at the stadium, to the Fund. The Fund would then use these proceeds to benefit the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Turner Field.

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How Mike Trout Could Legally Become a Free Agent

What type of contract would Mike Trout have commanded this offseason had he been a free agent? Coming off an MVP-award-winning campaign in which he compiled 9.4 WAR and about to enter just his age-25 season, Trout would have easily been one of the most sought after players ever to hit the open market. And given the state of this year’s historically weak free-agent class, the bidding for Trout may very likely have ended up in the $400-500 million range over eight to ten years.

Considering that Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million contract extension back in 2014 – an agreement that runs through 2020 – this is just an interesting, but hypothetical, thought experiment, right?

Not necessarily. A relatively obscure provision under California law — specifically, Section 2855 of the California Labor Code — limits all personal services contracts (i.e., employment contracts) in the state to a maximum length of seven years. In other words, this means that if an individual were to sign an employment contract in California lasting eight or more years, then at the conclusion of the seventh year the employee would be free to choose to either continue to honor the agreement, or else opt out and seek employment elsewhere.

Although the California legislature has previously considered eliminating this protection for certain professional athletes – including Major League Baseball players – no such amendment has passed to date. Consequently, Section 2855 would presumptively apply to any player employed by one of the five major-league teams residing in California.

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Assessing What We Know About the New CBA

After nearly a year’s worth of negotiation sessions, and with little more than three hours remaining before the deadline, Major League Baseball’s owners and players came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday evening. Not only does this agreement avert a possible work stoppage, but it also means that teams will head into next week’s Winter Meetings with a better sense of the economic ground rules under which they’ll be operating in the coming seasons.

It will be at least a few weeks, if not a couple months, before the final written version of the new CBA is released publicly. Indeed, while the owners and players reached a consensus on the core components of the deal last night, many of those verbal agreements must still be reduced to writing, a process that will take some time.

Still, many of the core components of the deal have already been reported in the press. Here’s what we know so far about the new CBA:

Duration of the New CBA

To begin, the new agreement will last for five years, covering the 2017-2021 seasons. This means that by the time the next CBA expires, MLB will have enjoyed an unprecedented 26 years of uninterrupted labor peace. Considering the state of the sport’s labor relations following the 1994-95 players’ strike, that is quite an impressive accomplishment for the game.

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A Roadmap for a Potential MLB Work Stoppage

This post is being republished after appearing at FanGraphs earlier this month — as it seems particularly relevant given the lack of a new CBA ahead of the December 1 expiration of the current one.

In two weeks time, on December 1st, the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association is set to expire. While the two sides have been working for the better part of a year on negotiating a new agreement, to date they have not yet been able to come to terms on a new CBA.

Based on existing media reports, it appears that the hold-up over the new agreement centers around two primary issues: raising the luxury-tax threshold and creating an international draft. Both topics were expected to be among the most important — and thus potentially contentious — issues discussed during the CBA negotiations. So the fact that the parties have not yet reached an agreement on either point is not particularly surprising.

Still, with only two weeks left until the old CBA expires, some are beginning to speculate about whether a potential work stoppage could be looming on the horizon. That, in turn, raises questions regarding the potential legal ramifications of the two sides failing to agree to a new CBA before December 1st.

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Justice Dept Sues AT&T/DirecTV Over Dodgers Broadcasts

For the last three years, the overwhelming majority of baseball fans in Los Angeles have been unable to watch the Dodgers play on television. In 2014, the team partnered with cable provider Time Warner to launch SportsNet LA, a network dedicated to the franchise. Citing the excessive price that Time Warner was demanding from other cable providers for the rights to air SportsNet LA — such as an initial asking price of roughly $5 per subscriber per month — other service providers like AT&T, DirecTV, and Cox have subsequently refused to carry the network.

As a result, since 2014, upwards of 70% of Los Angeles residents have not had access to televised Dodgers games. Indeed, because Time Warner only offers cable services in parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, in many cases even if fans were willing to change cable providers to gain access to the Dodgers, they were nevertheless still unable to do so because none of the available providers in their neighborhood carried SportsNet LA.

Given its high asking price for the network, it’s not surprising that the public has typically painted Time Warner as the bad guy throughout this ordeal. According to a lawsuit filed last week by the U.S. Department of Justice, however, Los Angeles sports fans’ anger may have been misdirected, as it now appears that DirecTV — now owed by AT&T — may in fact be largely to blame for the Dodgers’ three-year blackout across much of Los Angeles.

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The Legal Case for Challenging Chief Wahoo

If Canadian indigenous-rights activist Douglas Cardinal had had his way, the Cleveland Indians would have been legally prohibited from playing Games 3 through 5 of the American League Championship Series in their standard road uniforms. According to a lawsuit filed by Cardinal on Friday in Ontario Superior Court, both Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo mascot as well as the “Indians” team name itself are racially offensive and discriminatory, in violation of Canada’s Human Rights Act (which generally prohibits businesses from “differentiat[ing] adversely” between citizens on the basis of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation).

Although Judge Thomas McEwen announced on Monday afternoon that he would not be issuing an injunction blocking Cleveland from wearing its normal uniforms during the ALCS, the legal proceedings have nevertheless brought renewed attention to Cleveland’s use of what are, in the minds of many, racially insensitive team insignias.

This raises the question of whether Cleveland’s — or, for that matter, the Atlanta Braves’ — team name or logos are at risk of being successfully contested in the United States. Indeed, considering that a U.S. federal court ruled last year that several trademarks belonging to the National Football League’s Washington Redskins must be cancelled due to their disparaging nature, it is entirely possible — and perhaps even probable — that Cleveland or Atlanta could soon face a trademark challenge of its own in U.S. federal court.

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MLB Largely Prevails in Scout-Pay Lawsuit

One can be forgiven for having forgotten about the Wyckoff v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball lawsuit. The class action case — filed back in July 2015 by Jordan Wyckoff, a former scout for the Kansas City Royals — accused Major League Baseball and its teams of violating both federal antitrust and employment law by colluding to deprive amateur and professional scouts both of the minimum wage and overtime compensation. Specifically, the case contended that MLB teams have unlawfully agreed not to compete with one another for the services of their scouts, with the result that wages for these employees have, in some cases, been depressed to as little as $5 per hour once all of their various job duties have been accounted for.

Late last year, MLB filed a motion asking the court to dismiss Wyckoff’s antitrust claims under its historic antitrust exemption. At the same time, MLB also argued that the suit’s minimum-wage claims should be dismissed against all but the Royals, since Wyckoff — the only plaintiff named in the suit who was asserting a violation of the minimum-wage and overtime rules — had never been employed by any of the other 29 MLB clubs.

Since then, the parties have waited… and waited… and then waited some more for the court to issue a ruling. That wait mercifully came to an end this past Thursday when Judge Paul Gardephe finally released his long-anticipated decision, more than nine months after MLB’s motion had first been filed.

In his opinion, Judge Gardephe granted MLB all of the relief it had requested, dismissing the overwhelming majority of Wyckoff’s case. As a result, while Wyckoff can continue to pursue his claim for back-pay from the Royals, any hopes he may have had that his suit would spur more systemic changes to the market for MLB scouts appear to have fallen short.

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Steve Clevenger and the Precedent for Insensitive Comments

Seattle Mariners’ backup catcher Steve Clevenger is not particularly sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement. Rather than keep his feelings on the matter to himself, however, he decided to share them with the world on Thursday afternoon in the following tweets:

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Not surprisingly, the public response to Clevenger’s comments was swift and unforgiving. Within hours, the Mariners released an official statement distancing the team from the remarks. And although Clevenger later apologized for the tweets, the Mariners nevertheless announced on Friday that the team was suspending him without pay for the remainder of the season.

On the one hand, the impact of the suspension on Clevenger will be relatively modest, as he was already on the 60-day disabled list with a broken hand, and thus was unlikely to play again for the Mariners this season. On the other hand, however, by being suspended without pay, Clevenger will forfeit the roughly $32,000 he would have earned over the season’s final 10 games.

It does not appear as though Clevenger will challenge his punishment, according to a report by Maury Brown. If Clevenger were to change his mind and file an appeal, however, then it is possible that he could get his suspension reduced by an arbitrator. Specifically, although Major League Baseball and its teams generally have the legal right to punish players in this manner, Clevenger could argue that a suspension of this length is at odds with those handed down in similar, prior cases.

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An End-of-Summer MLB Legal Update

Like any multi-billion dollar business, Major League Baseball is consistently defending itself from at least a handful of different lawsuits at any given time. And while we at FanGraphs attempt to keep you, the loyal reader, appraised of any major happenings in these cases, throughout the year a number of less noteworthy developments occur in these suits that, while potentially significant, nevertheless do not warrant a standalone write-up of their own.

The purpose of this post is to update you on several such recent developments in two ongoing lawsuits against MLB, those challenging the league’s minor-league pay and fan-safety practices, respectively.

Minor-League Wage Litigation

Back in July, I discussed the significant victory that MLB secured in the litigation challenging its minor-league pay practices under federal and state minimum-wage law. Specifically, as I noted at the time, the court refused to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit due to several important differences between the work experiences of, and compensation received by, minor-league players.

Given the significant setback that this decision represented for the minor-league players — removing more than 2,000 players from the case — it appeared inevitable that the plaintiffs would seek to have the decision overturned on appeal. Rather than immediately pursue an appeal to a higher court, however, the plaintiffs have instead opted to take a second crack at convincing the trial court to approve the case for class-action status.

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Insuring Prince Fielder

On Tuesday, we learned that Prince Fielder’s career has come to an end following his second major neck surgery in just the last three years. Jeff Sullivan provided a fitting eulogy for Fielder’s career a couple days ago. While the news is certainly devastating for Fielder on a personal level, this post concerns another matter — namely, the potential financial implications of Fielder’s injury, both for the Texas Rangers and Fielder himself. At the heart of the matter: the nine-year, $214 million contract Fielder signed in 2012, a deal that guarantees him another $24 million annually from 2017 through 2020.

For starters, it’s important to note that Fielder is not officially retiring from baseball, but rather has been declared medically disabled and therefore is no longer considered to be physically able to play the game. This is an important distinction legally, because had Fielder voluntarily decided to retire, then he would have forfeited the roughly $104 million remaining on his contract. Instead, by being declared medically unable to play, Fielder remains entitled to the full amount he’s owed under his contract.

Because Texas reportedly has an insurance policy covering his contract in the event of injury, the Rangers will not be on the hook for the entirety of the team’s remaining financial obligation to Fielder. Instead, the club will apparently only be responsible for paying Fielder $9 million per year from 2017 to 2020, with the rest of his salary covered by the team’s insurer (who will reportedly contribute another $9 million per year) and the Detroit Tigers (who are on the hook for the final $6 million per season, based on the terms of the trade that brought Fielder to Texas in exchange for Ian Kinsler in 2013).

That having been said, although the precise terms of the Rangers’ insurance policy are not publicly available, it appears likely that this $9 million in cost savings will not come without some strings attached for the club. Moreover, it’s also possible that the team’s insurance company could still yet find a way to avoid paying some or all of its share of Fielder’s contract.

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MLB Scores Big Win in Minor-League Wage Lawsuit

Last October, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Major League Baseball’s minor-league pay practices scored an important, albeit preliminary, victory when the court tentatively certified the case as a collective-action lawsuit. As I noted at the time, this meant that rather than have to file individual lawsuits for every player allegedly denied the minimum wage or overtime, current and former minor-league players could instead opt-in to the existing litigation and have their claims against MLB tried together in the existing case (a much more efficient and less costly proposition).

As I also noted at the time, however, this initial victory was potentially short-lived. Under the applicable legal rules, even though the court had preliminarily certified the minor leaguers’ case as a collective action, the court withheld a final judgment on the matter until after the parties had gathered more evidence regarding the extent to which the players’ legal claims were “similarly situated” to one another’s (i.e., whether the work experiences and legal claims of the plaintiffs already named in the lawsuit were roughly equivalent to those of the rest of the players who might join the case).

That additional evidence has now been collected and, on Thursday evening, the judge in the minor-league wage lawsuit ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to show that their cases were similarly situated. Thus, the judge “decertified” the case as a collective action.

This means that the roughly 2,200 current and former minor-league players who had joined the case since October have now been tossed back out of the lawsuit. These players must now instead file their own individual lawsuits against MLB should they wish to seek compensation for their alleged underpayment.

Perhaps more importantly, Thursday’s ruling also dramatically lowers the odds that the existing lawsuit will force MLB to make significant, league-wide changes to its minor-league pay practices. Thus, the decision represents a major victory for the league in the minor-league wage litigation.

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New Lawsuit Challenges MLB’s Investigation Practices

After having been permanently suspended from baseball for performance-enhancing-drug use, relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia announced this past March that he would be challenging his suspension in court, insisting that he’d been wrongfully accused of using PEDs. Mejia even went so far as to hire an attorney, Vincent White, who levied some pretty serious accusations against Major League Baseball. In particular, White contended that he had discovered evidence that the league had illegally hacked into MLB players’ social-media accounts in order to obtain evidence of their PED usage.

Despite the salacious nature of these allegations, Mejia has, to date, not yet elected to make good on his threat of filing suit against MLB. Mejia’s apparent unwillingness to sue hasn’t stopped his attorney from pursuing a case against the league, however.

This past Monday, White sent out a press release announcing that he would file a new lawsuit against MLB on Thursday, a case that he claimed was based on a “multi year investigation” that would bring to light “corrupt mob-like activity” by the league. Rather than filing the suit on behalf of Mejia, however, it turns out that White is instead representing Neiman Nix, a former 29th-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds, who went on to establish both his own baseball training academy, as well as an anti-aging clinic, in Florida.

Nix contends that MLB intentionally interfered with both of these business endeavors, perhaps most notably by subjecting his anti-aging clinic to many of the same, allegedly unsavory investigation techniques that the league used during the midst of the Biogenesis scandal. Nix’s lawsuit thus seeks to hold the league legally responsible for his resulting financial losses.

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Dissecting Rob Manfred, Tony Clark on Minor-League Wages

As has become customary, both Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, held press conferences during All-Star week to field questions regarding various issues affecting the game. Unsurprisingly, one of the issues about which both men were asked concerned the ongoing litigation over the allegedly illegally low wages paid to minor-league players.

For his part, Manfred insisted that the minor-league wage debate “is not a dollars and cents issue” for the league. Instead, he asserted that the league was merely concerned with the feasibility of applying these laws to professional athletes:

“I want to take extra BP — am I working, or am I not working? Travel time. You know, is every moment that you’re on the bus, is that your commute that you don’t get paid for? Or is that working time? Where’s the clock, who’s going to punch a clock keep track of those hours?”

“Who’s going to keep track of those hours? When you’re eating in a clubhouse with a spread that the employer provides, is that working time, or is that your lunch break? We can figure out the economics. The administrative burden associated with the application of these laws to professional athletes that were never intended to apply for professional athletes is the real issue.”

Meanwhile, Clark contended that his hands are tied on the matter, since the MLBPA does not currently represent most minor-league players, and thus “legally [doesn’t] have the ability to negotiate on their behalf.”

To some extent, both Manfred and Clark expressed fair and legitimate concerns regarding the issue. At the same time, however, further examination reveals that both statements appear to be somewhat disingenuous.

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