MLB And Politicians Spar Over Contraction

The battle has started.  

It has been a week since United States Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont met with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred about the industry’s plan of contracting 42 teams. Since the meeting, MLB is going ahead with the proposal although Manfred did say MLB “understands that we have an obligation to local communities to ensure that public money spent on minor league stadiums is done so prudently and for the benefit of all citizens.” Major League Baseball’s brass thinks cutting out 42 teams along with around 1,000 jobs would be beneficial to the baseball industry. One other thing that has happened in the past week, the New York Mets minority owner Steve Cohen wants to increase his investment in the team and eventually become the chief owner of the franchise.  Cohen will spend billions which means Major League Baseball franchises will continue to go up in price despite the minor league business problem.

Major League Baseball got permission from the Supreme Court of the United States to act like a monopoly in 1922. In the 1922 decision in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore versus the National League, the court ruled against the Terrapin owners. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “personal effort, not related to production, is not a subject of commerce” and that baseball therefore wasn’t subject to federal regulation. Baseball on all levels is an interstate business but the court did not see it that way. The antitrust exempt has been eroded over the years but it keeps the lords of baseball in charge of territorial rights with the last challenge coming in 2015 when San Jose wanted to negotiate with Oakland A’s ownership about moving to the south bay. The court said no citing the 1922 Supreme Court decision. The battle between MLB and Congress over monopoly status is starting.