Monday, June 26, 2017

Miranda v. Selig (9th Cir. - June 26, 2017)

Sometimes you file appeals (or even entire lawsuits) knowing full well that they're going to lose, but hoping -- sometimes without hope -- that the United States Supreme Court will eventually step in.

Almost always, you're totally right that you're going to lose, and your hopes for Supreme Court review are -- almost always -- similarly dashed.

All of these are thoughts that I had when I read this morning's Ninth Circuit opinion.

Of course the plaintiffs were going to lose in the Ninth Circuit.  Just as they did in the district court.  Just as they will (almost certainly) when they petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court.

Now, factually, are minor league baseball players underpaid?  Yes.  Potentially, criminally underpaid -- in a moral sense, anyway.  Absolutely.  Totally.  No question there.

(In this regard, some enlightening facts worth knowing from the opinion:  "Although MLB’s salary guidelines are not publicly available, the plaintiffs, a class of minor league baseball players [] allege MLB requires that all first-year minor league players earn $1,100 per month, Class-A minor league players earn $1,250 per month, Class-AA minor league players earn $1,500 per month, and Class-AAA minor league players earn $2,150 per month. The Players allege that most minor league players earn less than $7,500 per year, with some earning as little as $3,000. Minor league players receive no salary for spring training, during which they work fifty to sixty hours per week.")

Similarly, do the major league teams conspire to set those same salaries?  I'm totally confident (based on nothing) that they totally do.  Just like they control what team you play for in the minor leagues, how long you're bound to a given club once you're drafted, etc.  It's a business.  The teams conspire.

But does that violate the antitrust laws?

You know the answer as well as I do.  No.  Not at all.  Not according to precedent. Not only precedent, but longstanding precedent.  Precedent that might be crapola, but that Congress has not only never seen fit to change, but has affirmatively seen fit to retain (albeit in the context of making sure that the "baseball exemption" to the Sherman Act gets limited to baseball and not extended to other professional sports).

You can't file an antitrust lawsuit against baseball.  Period.  Including the one here.  If you want to change that, you need to persuade Congress.

And good luck with that.

Minor league baseball players strike out.