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The Most Important Man in Baseball You’ve Never Heard Of PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 12 July 2013 12:59

Fredric Horowitz

Fredric Horowitz

There are people in sports that we see on television, read about in the paper, or hear their name on radio. More often than not, they are the players on the field, but not always. When important matters hit sports outside the lines, the names “Bud Selig”, “Michael Weiner,” or “Rob Manfred” might crop up.

That’s especially the case now for Major League Baseball. Commissioner Selig will address the media on Tuesday before the All-Star Game, and you can bet the chief topic of discussion will be the Biogenesis PED scandal. It’s possible that as soon as the day after the All-Star Game, Ryan Braun, and Alex Rodriguez could be included in up to 20 players that will be suspended, the largest number of suspensions in the history of professional sports over performance-enhancing drugs.

While the league will announce the suspensions, the players cited will continue to play. That’s because all MLB players have been afforded a grievance process through the jointly agreed to drug program between the league and the MLB Players Association. As part of the appeals process, the cases will be heard by an arbitration panel.

While it is a panel in name, two of the three that sit on it have clear positions that fall in line with the sides in this matter. The league will have Rob Manfred, the Executive Vice President, Economics & League Affairs for Major League Baseball. For the players, it will be Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA. The league will of course vote to suspend, the MLBPA will back the player and ask for the suspension to be rescinded. It is the third person in this—the independent arbitrator—that will ultimately decide the fate of the players named in the Biogenesis suspensions. It is this man—one few have ever heard of—that is the most important person in baseball you’ve never heard of.

As part of the labor agreement, the league and MLBPA jointly select an arbitrator to help mitigate these types of disputes. After Shyam Das was fired by MLB (as was their right to do, just as the MLBPA has the right to do the same) after he ruled in favor of Ryan Braun’s PED suspension being overturned in in February of last year, Fredric Horowitz was tapped to replace him.

For those that follow salary arbitration in Major League Baseball, Horowitz’ name is familiar (you can see what panels he sat on dating back to 2005, here). But, his background is far more extensive.

His bio states that he has been a full-time Arbitrator and Mediator in Santa Monica, California since 1989 specializing in public and private sector labor and employment disputes. He is a member of the Board of Governors and past Southern California Regional Chair of the National Academy of Arbitrators, Past Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Labor and Employment Law Section, Former Advisor and Executive Committee Member of the California State Bar Labor and Employment Law Section, Past President of the Orange County Chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association, and a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He was named in Southern California Super Lawyers from 2008-2012 and a Top Attorney in Southern California by Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine in 2012. In 2008, he was appointed to the Los Angeles City Employee Relations Board and currently serves as Vice Chair. His arbitration work in private industry has included the airline industry, and for sports, not only has he worked with Major League Baseball and the MLBPA, but the NHL and NHLPA on salary arbitration.

Horowitz might walk away from the Biogenesis rulings unscathed, but it’s no given. Das was the longest tenured arbitrator held by MLB and the MLBPA first starting in 1999 until he was fired in mid-May of last year.

Das took over as baseball's permanent arbitrator from Cornell professor Dana Eischen, who was hired in December 1997 but quit after ruling the following May against J.D. Drew's grievance seeking free agency. The Associated Press provided a history of arbitrators that have been in place with MLB and the MLBPA.

Many of baseball's grievance arbitrators have had brief tenures, with the list including Lewis Gill (1970-72), Gabriel Alexander (1972-74), Peter Seitz (1974-75), Alexander Porter (1977-79), Raymond Goetz (1979-83), Richard Bloch (1983-85), Thomas Roberts (1985-86), George Nicolau (1986-95), Nicholas Zumas (1995-97) and Eischen (1997-98).

Joseph Sickles heard one case in 1976, and temporary arbitrators were used between Eischen and Das.

Seitz was fired after he ruled against owners in the Andy Messersmith-Dave McNally reserve clause case that led to free agency. Roberts was fired after deciding management colluded against free agents between the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

History will see if Horowitz lasts only this year, or for more to come. Certainly the stakes are high in the Biogenesis case, and how he rules could shape whether he’s here today and gone tomorrow, or a lasting figure such as Shyam Das was.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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MLB Players Union Issues Strong Statement on Leaks in Biogenesis Case PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 11 July 2013 16:21
Michael Weiner

With suspensions being announced in the Biogenesis case expected shortly in Major League Baseball, the matter of how and when those occur have been under the microscope. With the drug agreement between the league and the MLB Players Association as part of the labor agreement in baseball, walking the line on the technical aspects around confidentiality has been touchy.

Yesterday it was reported that because Biogenesis and the players implicated in the PED scandal has already surfaced in the media, a provision in the drug agreement will allow MLB to announce the suspensions, even though appeals through the grievance process have not been completed.

Today the MLBPA went on the offensive around reports regarding how long suspensions might be for Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez (reports have said the league could look to get 100 games for each of them based upon lying to the league about prior PED use). Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner issued the following statement regarding the leaking of Biogenesis-related information to the media.  

“The leaking of confidential information to members of the media interferes with the thoroughness and credibility of the Biogenesis investigation.  These repeated leaks threaten to harm the integrity of the Joint Drug Agreement and call into question the required level of confidentiality needed to operate a successful prevention program.  The Players want a clean game and they demand a testing program that is not only the toughest in professional sports, but one that guarantees each player due process rights accompanied by strict confidentiality provisions.  As I stated last month, the Players Association remains in contact with the Commissioner’s Office regarding the investigation, and they continue to assure us that no decisions regarding discipline will be made until the investigation is complete.  It would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged the results of the investigation based on unsubstantiated leaks that are a clear violation of the JDA.”

Shortly after the statement was released, the union for the players quickly added clarification in which they said they had “no information about the source of the leaks” and that they “have no information that indicates MLB is the source.”

The statement by Michael Weiner was to “lament the fact that the leaks had occurred and to encourage the media and the public not to rush to judgment about any Player before MLB's investigation is completed and all of the Players' due process rights under the JDA are satisfied.”

In other words, indications are that the league will still move forward and announce the suspensions, but the duration of them will not occur until the due process through the appeals to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz is completed. With that it is possible that it could be months before players actually serving the suspensions, if they are upheld.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Provision in MLB Drug Agreement Will Allow Suspensions in Biogenesis Case to Happen Before Grievance Heard PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 13:59

PEDs in baseballMajor League Baseball will announce the suspension of players allegedly involved in the Biogenesis PED scandal before the players have had their grievances heard on the matter based on a provision in the current joint drug agreement between the MLB Players Associiation and MLB. The story was first reported via T.J. Quinn of ESPN late Tues evening via Twitter, and confirmed today. While the suspensions for the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and others that could total as many as 20 players could happen at any time, all indications are that it will happen shortly after the All-Star Game which takes place on this coming Tuesday, July 16th. From Weds. to Thurs. of next week there are no games played and it is possible that the league could use the break in play to make the announcement then. While suspensions will be announced, no suspension will be served until the grievance process is completed.

While confidentiality around suspensions is a key section of the latest joint drug agreement (see it here), the league is given the ability to announce the suspensions under the Appeals provision, Section 8 , D. Appeals of Discipline Issued Pursuant to Section 7.G.2. (see pg 31):

The Commissioner’s Office may publicly announce the discipline of a Player if the allegations relating to a Player’s violation of the Program previously had been made public through a source other than the Commissioner’s Office or a Club (or their representative employees or agents).

The Miami New Times first reported the Biogenesis PED story and since the New York Times and ESPN have done investigative reporting stories regarding Biogenesis, and the players allegedly named within it. The league has spoken with Tony Bosch, the head of Biogenesis, and is in the midst of interviewing the players allegedly involved. Ryan Braun has already been interviewed, and Rodriguez is slated to meet with the league on Friday.

The league can publicly identify the players involved but the suspensions would be held for those declared first-time offenders of the drug policy. It has been reported that the league may look to impose 100-game suspensions for Braun and Rodriguez based on prior incidents. Braun had his 50-game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone overturned based on chain of custody being broken under the prior drug agreement. The latest drug agreement would not have allowed the suspension to be overturned. In that, Braun never contested the positive test, rather the handling of his test sample. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 to using PEDs for a 3-year period beginning in 2001, but was never suspended for it as the drug policy was not yet in place. While neither player has been suspended prior, the league could look to suspend the two 100-games claiming the details out of the Biogenesis case constitutes a second offense and that lying as part of prior interviews with the league constitutes the first offense. In that, the former NL MVP and baseball’s highest-paid player could be named in the suspensions, as could Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal as they have been suspended prior for positive PED tests.

The MLB Players Association is aware of the pending announcement but sees the league’s actions as potentially not meeting the intent and spirit of the provision within the drug agreement.

LIST OF PLAYERS INPLICATED IN THE BIOGENESIS SCANDAL

Ryan Braun (Brewers), Everth Cabrera (Padres), Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Bartolo Colon (Athletics), Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Fautino de los Santos (Free agent), Yasmani Grandal (Padres), Fernando Martinez (Astros), Jesus Montero (Mariners), Jordan Norberto (Free agent), Jhonny Peralta (Tigers), Cesar Puello (Mets), Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)

NOTE: While Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals was listed as a client of Biogenesis it was found that he did not obtain banned substances.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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MLB Experiments with Placing TV Ad Graphics on the Field PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 08 July 2013 15:40

Ads on MLB field

Rogers SportsNet

We’ve seen graphics showing where the first down line is, and the red zone in football. We’ve seen graphics on panels behind home plate. But, a Toronto Blue Jays game via SportsNet shows that it could move into baseball in a new way, placing graphics on the field in foul territory, and on the batter’s eye in center field.

As this graphic from Business Insider that first reported the story shows the Orange Julius logo is near the 3rd base coach’s box. At the link you’ll see the logo on the batter’s eye, as well as the Honda logo in foul territory. Like the panels behind home plate, fans at the game would never see the graphics overlay, only those watching on television. In doing so, advertisers would see more saturation than just from the center field camera where the panels behind home plate are located.

As to whether this new twist on advertisement will burst across MLB broadcasts, according to league officials, the insertion of virtual ads on the field is a test with the league evaluating it after the season. No word as to whether we’ll see this occurring only with Blue Jay games, or with other regional or national sports networks throughout the 2013 season.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Complete 2013 MLB All-Star Game Roster Info PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 06 July 2013 19:45

2013 MLB All-Star Game logo

The following is pulled directly from two MLB press releases. The Biz of Baseball does this on occasion to provide a historical reference point for researchers, not only this season, but in seasons to come. Selecting READ MORE will give you details on the reserves, plus a PDF that has all the players (minus two) for the 2013 Midsummer Classic. Six players in each league selected by managers Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy comprise the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com to determine final roster spots selected by fans. Those players are

American League

Joaquin Benoit (DET) - #BackBenoit (A1)

Steve Delabar (TOR) - #RaiseTheBar (A2)

David Robertson (NYY) - #HighSocksForVotes (A3)

Tanner Scheppers (TEX) - #TakeTanner (A4)

Koji Uehara (BOS) - #HighFiveCiti (A5)

National League

Ian Desmond (WSH) - #DesiIn13 (N1)

Freddie Freeman (ATL) - #Vote Freddie (N2)

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) - #VoteTitan (N3)

Hunter Pence (SF) - #VotePence (N4)

Yasiel Puig (LAD) - #VotePuig (N5)

Maury Brown

DETAILS ON THE 2013 MLB ALL-STAR GAME STARTERS

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the 2013 leading vote-getter in Major League Baseball, and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who led the National League in voting, will be among the starters in the 84th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 16th at Citi Field in New York.  The 2013 American League and National League All-Star Teams were unveiled earlier this evening on FOX during the 2013 All-Star Game Selection Show Presented by Taco Bell.

Davis, who leads the Majors with 32 home runs and a .717 slugging percentage, totaled 8,272,243 votes as he surpassed the A.L.’s starting third baseman, Miguel Cabrera (8,013,874) of the Detroit Tigers, in the final week to finish as the leading vote-getter in all of baseball.  The Texas native is the second first-time All-Star to lead the Majors in voting, joining Ichiro Suzuki, who achieved the feat in his rookie season in 2001.  Davis also becomes the second Oriole to lead MLB in All-Star balloting, joining Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., who paced the Majors in 1992 and 1995.  Davis, now an All-Star for the first time in his career, has 83 RBI on the season, two shy of his career-high and team-leading total of 85 set in 2012.  He is just the third Orioles first baseman to earn a starting assignment, joining Boog Powell (1970-71) and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray (1985).

Cabrera, who leads the Majors with a .361 batting average, 120 hits, 86 RBI and a .451 on-base percentage, has secured his first career fan-elected start and his eighth Midsummer Classic selection overall.  The 2012 A.L. MVP and Triple Crown winner, who is also tied for the Major League lead with 65 runs scored, is just the fifth Tigers infielder in history to win a fan election, joining Lou Whitaker (1984-86), Alan Trammell (1988), Placido Polanco (2007) and teammate Prince Fielder (2012).

Molina, who will be making his third fan-elected start in five seasons (also 2009-10), received 6,883,258 votes to lead the N.L. ahead of his Cardinals teammate Carlos Beltran, who garnered 6,786,919 votes.  Molina, now a five-time All-Star overall, held on in a tightly contested race with San Francisco Giants backstop Buster Posey, who tallied the third-highest total in the N.L. with 6,474,088 votes.  Molina, who leads the N.L. with a .346 batting average and 26 doubles, becomes the fifth player in Cardinals history to earn at least three fan-elected starting assignments, joining Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (12), Albert Pujols (5), Mark McGwire (3) and Scott Rolen (3).  The two-time World Series Champion also joins Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (10) and Gary Carter (8), as well as Mike Piazza (11) and fellow Puerto Rico native Benito Santiago (4) as the only N.L. catchers to receive at least three fan elections.

Beltran, who topped all N.L. outfielders in voting, claimed his second consecutive fan-elected start, his sixth career fan election and his eighth All-Star selection overall.  The Cardinals, with Beltran and Molina winning fan elections, have now had at least one player receive a fan election in each of the last five seasons, marking the longest active streak in the N.L.  In addition, St. Louis has now had an outfielder earn a starting nod in each of the last three seasons following Beltran’s selection a year ago and Lance Berkman’s election in 2011.  Beltran, a native of Puerto Rico, ranks fifth in the N.L. with 19 home runs and sixth with a .537 slugging percentage.

Joining Beltran in the N.L. outfield will be Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.  Gonzalez, an N.L. All-Star in 2012, finished second among N.L. outfielders with 4,214,904 votes.  The 27-year-old leads the N.L. with 23 home runs, 65 runs scored, 199 total bases and 50 extra-base hits, and he is tied for the league lead with nine outfield assists.  The Venezuelan native becomes just the third Rockies outfielder to earn a fan election, joining Dante Bichette (1996) and Larry Walker (1997-99).  Harper, who finished with 4,097,009 votes, came from behind in the final week of voting in a tight race for the final starting outfield spot.  The 2012 N.L. Rookie of the Year, who was the youngest All-Star position player in history and the third-youngest Major League All-Star ever in 2012, becomes just the second fan-elected starter in Nationals history, joining Alfonso Soriano (2006).  Harper, who finished just ahead of Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen (3,855,928) and Atlanta’s Justin Upton (3,678,190), will become the third-youngest player to start a Midsummer Classic.  According to Elias, the only players younger than Harper (20 years, 270 days on July 16th) to start a Midsummer Classic were Hall of Famer Al Kaline in 1955 (20 years, 205 days) and Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1990 (20 years, 231 days).

In the A.L. outfield, Adam Jones of the Orioles finished ahead of Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a back-and-forth battle for the top outfield spot.  They are joined by 2011 leading vote-getter Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Jones received 6,793,577 votes en route to his first fan-elected starting nod and his third All-Star selection overall.  The 27-year-old joins Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (1970-71), Ken Singleton (1981) and Brady Anderson (1997) as the only outfielders in Orioles history to be voted an All-Star by the fans.  Jones, a native of San Diego, ranks among A.L. leaders with 57 runs scored (T-4th), 104 hits (T-6th), 59 RBI (7th) and 22 doubles (T-9th).  Trout, who was the seventh-youngest A.L. position player in All-Star history last year, garnered 6,771,745 votes to earn his first fan-elected start.  The 21-year-old joins Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson (1982-84), Fred Lynn (1982-83) and Vladimir Guerrero (2004-07) as the only outfielders in Angels history to earn a fan-elected starting nod.  The New Jersey native is the only player in the A.L. to hit at least 10 home runs and steal at least 20 bases thus far in the 2013 season.  In addition, the reigning A.L. Rookie of the Year is tied for first in the Majors with 34 multi-hit games and he ranks third in the A.L. with 185 total bases and fourth with 108 hits and 45 extra-base hits.  Bautista collected 3,999,631 votes to hold off Nick Markakis of the Orioles (3,783,189) for the final A.L. outfield spot.  Bautista, a four-time All-Star, has now claimed a fan-elected starting assignment in each of the last three seasons becoming the first Blue Jays outfielder, and the second Blue Jays player ever, to receive three fan-elected starting assignments, joining Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who earned four consecutive fan-elected starts at second base from 1991-94.  The Dominican Republic native, who leads the Majors with 144 home runs since the start of the 2010 season, ranks third in the A.L. with 59 runs, is tied for third with 47 walks and tied for seventh with 20 home runs.

Joining Davis and Cabrera in the A.L. infield is New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy.  Cano, who is now an All-Star for the fifth time in his career, totaled 5,369,141 votes to become the first A.L. second baseman to receive four consecutive fan elections since Alomar earned five straight from 1996-2000.  The Dominican Republic native is also just the fourth Yankees infielder to secure four fan elections, joining Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (4), Derek Jeter (8) and Alex Rodriguez (6).  Cano, who will serve as the A.L. captain at the 2013 Chevrolet Home Run Derby, leads Major League second basemen with 20 home runs.  Hardy, who leads A.L. shortstops with 15 home runs and 46 RBI, claimed 5,283,144 votes en route to his second All-Star selection and first fan-elected starting nod.  The 2007 N.L. All-Star joins Ripken (1984-87, 89-96) and Miguel Tejada (2005) as the only Orioles shortstops to earn fan-elected starts.   Baltimore’s trio of starters – Davis, Jones and Hardy – tie a franchise record for fan-elected starters in a Midsummer Classic, joining Boog Powell and Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson in 1971, and Brady Anderson, Ripken and Alomar in 1997.

Cincinnati Reds teammates Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips man the right side of the N.L. infield, becoming the fifth pair of N.L. teammates (sixth time) to earn fan-elected starts at first and second base.  The others include Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1979 and 1980), Pete Rose and Manny Trillo of the Philadelphia Phillies (1982), Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros (1997) and Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks of the Milwaukee Brewers (2011).  Votto, who received 5,128,515 votes, claims his second consecutive fan-elected starting assignment and his fourth All-Star nod overall.  The 2010 N.L. MVP, who leads the N.L. with 60 walks and a .433 on-base percentage, is the first Reds player to earn consecutive fan-elected starts since Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (1999-2000).  Votto, a native of Canada, has reached base safely in 79 of his 86 games played this season, including his current season-high streak of 20 consecutive games.  Phillips, now a three-time All-Star, tallied 4,799,417 votes, holding off Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals (4,337,408) and 2012 NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro of the Giants (4,117,815), en route to his first career Midsummer Classic starting assignment.  Phillips, who leads the Majors with 24 go-ahead RBI and 13 game-winning RBI, is the first Reds second baseman to earn a fan election since Hall of Famer Joe Morgan received seven straight fan elections from 1972-78.

Rounding out the N.L. starters on the left side of the infield is third baseman David Wright of the hometown New York Mets, who received the fourth-largest total in the N.L. with 6,411,381 votes, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, who posted 5,404,860 votes.  Wright, who claims his seventh All-Star selection overall, becomes just the second N.L. third baseman to receive at least five fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (9).  The 2013 Chevrolet Home Run Derby N.L. captain ranks among N.L. leaders with a .396 on-base percentage (4th), 43 walks (5th), five triples (T-6th), a .524 slugging percentage (7th), 37 extra-base hits (T-8th) and 14 stolen bases (9th).  Since June 5th, he is batting .363 (41-for-113) with 18 runs scored, 12 doubles, six home runs, 13 RBI and a .438 on-base percentage over 27 games.  Tulowitzki, who is currently on the disabled list with a broken rib, claims his third All-Star nod and his first career fan-elected starting assignment.  The 28-year-old, who joins first baseman Todd Helton (2001-03) as the only Rockies infielders to win a fan election, becomes the fourth consecutive different N.L. shortstop to earn the starting nod, joining Rafael Furcal (2012), Jose Reyes (2011) and Hanley Ramirez (2010).  In addition, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez become the first pair of Rockies teammates to earn starting bids together.

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz round out the starters for the A.L. squad.  Mauer, who drew 5,443,856 votes, obtains his sixth career All-Star selection and his fourth fan-elected starting assignment behind the plate, joining Ivan Rodriguez (12) and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk (7) as the only A.L. catchers to earn four fan-elected starts.  The 2009 A.L. MVP also becomes one of just three players in Twins history to accomplish the feat, joining Hall of Famers Rod Carew (9) and Kirby Puckett (6).  Mauer, the 2010 Major League leading vote-getter, leads Major League catchers with 49 runs scored and a .395 on-base percentage, and ranks second with 25 doubles and a .314 batting average.  Ortiz, now an All-Star for the ninth time in his career and a fan-elected starter for the seventh time, totaled 6,226,301, which was good for fifth overall in the A.L.  The Dominican Republic native becomes the 10th player in A.L. history to receive at least seven fan-elected starts with one team, joining Ripken (17), Hall of Famer George Brett (11), Ken Griffey, Jr. (10), Carew (9), Ivan Rodriguez (9), Ichiro Suzuki (9), Jeter (8), Hall of Famer Dave Winfield (7) and former teammate Manny Ramirez (7).  Since his season debut on April 20th, the 37-year-old ranks third in the Majors with 61 RBI, and with his 500th career double earlier this week, he became the 20th player in Major League history to reach both the 400-homer and 500-double milestones.

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MLB Players to Wear Special Stars and Stripes Caps on Independence Day PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 12:39

4th of July Caps

As the ad went, there’s baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. When we think of baseball, it’s often in the context as a wholly American experience, so it’s not surprising that on patriotic holidays, Major League Baseball promotes it.

As was the case on Memorial Day, tomorrow on Independence Day,  players will wear specially designed “Stars & Stripes” caps from New Era. This marks the sixth consecutive year that the league has done this with it benefiting ongoing fundraising and awareness initiatives for Welcome Back Veterans, which addresses the needs of returning veterans and their families.

According to the league and New Era, the caps will have the American flag etched into the team’s logo, with white or gray crowns and blue or red brims and buttons (the Toronto Blue Jays hat will once again incorporate a Maple Leaf design instead of the “Stars & Stripes”).


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Numbers Show That MLB Interleague Play Isn’t As Popular As We Were Led to Believe PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 13:11

MLB attendanceIt has been one of the key moments in Bud Selig’s tenure, created barstool debates throughout the country, and until this year, hasn’t had enough information to say definitively how popular it really is.

The topic is interleague play in Major League Baseball.

Since Bud Selig and the owners agreed that having a smattering of games that sees the National and American League teams competing in the regular season, the chorus from the league has been simple: interleague, while controversial to the purist, is a fan favorite.

Since it started in 1997 interleague games had drawn an average of 33,285 through 2012, or 12 percent higher than traditional intraleague. Selig and the league—first to highlight that they had, indeed, made the right decision in 1997, and then to promote its legacy—have touted interleague’s popularity.

The problem has always been that interleague occurred in two short series, first in May that surrounded Memorial Day and later in the season when a longer stretch is played in July. The limited number of games, one of which took advantage of the 3-day weekend, and the others around summer when weather is at its best and kids are out of school, never really spoke wholly to how popular interleague might be over a long stretch.

That all changed this season. When the Astros moved to the AL West, and the AL and NL were confronted with 15 teams a piece, it was decided that “daily interleague” would be across the calendar. While the number of interleague tilts and when they are played do not occur daily, since Opening Day when the Angels played the Reds in Cincinnati, interleague has peppered baseball’s schedule.

Leading into July, there had been 182 interleague games played. This included the “Rivalry Week” games that spanned Memorial Day to Thursday, May 30th. These games which see match-ups such as the Yankees and Mets, Reds and Indians, White Sox and Cubs, Dodgers and Angels, have indeed been the most popular. But, when we look at intraleague to interleague across what is now the  middle of the 2013 season, it shows that interleague lags behind, not ahead of intraleague play, when it comes to attendance.

The 182 interleague games through June have seen an average paid attendance of 28,691 compared to 28,664 for intraleague, a difference of just 27 per game in favor of interleague. But, remember, the Rivalry Week started on Memorial Day, a Monday of a 3-day weekend, thus skewing numbers in favor of interleague. When normalizing that Memorial Day Monday to be in line with other Mondays throughout the season, interleague attendance drops to an average of 28,426 or an average of 239 less per game than intraleague sees.

While the rest of the season is yet to be played, the numbers compellingly show that interleague is not as popular as the past numbers have been said to be. It’s not that the “rivalries” aren’t popular, they are (they averaged 30,876 across the Rivalry Week in May this year), but rather balanced interleague throughout the season pulls in pretty much the same crowds as traditional interleague has.

None of this is to say that interleague should be removed. What it does say is don’t use those past numbers as propaganda to say how much more popular interleague is since it came into place in 1997. As the numbers now show, it’s pretty much a wash. Enjoy it for what it is, not some monumental popularity shift added to the regular season.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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Massive Drop in Baseball Drug Suspensions Could Signal Hope PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 28 June 2013 12:54

PEDs in baseball

UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this article, Cleveland Indians Minor League right-handed pitcher Dillon Howard received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine. The suspension of Howard, who is currently on the roster of the rookie-level Arizona League Indians, is effective immediately. The article has been updated to reflect the additional suspension.

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and up to 20 players could see suspensions in Major League Baseball, but a funny thing has happened along the way that few have seen, and might have a more lasting impact: drug suspensions across baseball are down dramatically this year.

The reason for the drop, where it is occurring, and other facets may be a one year phenomenon or a continuing trend, but as it stands now we’re seeing the largest drop in drug suspensions across minor league baseball, and to date, there have been none in the majors. As one key official said, “Hopefully the message is getting through.”

SEE THE ALL-TIME MLB AND MINOR LEAGUE DRUG SUSPENSION LIST

How dramatic is this change? To date, there have been 24 drug suspensions in minor league baseball. Last season at this time there were 50 in the minors, and thus year-over-year there has been a decline of 54 percent. The key here is that players in the minors have no recourse through challenges to suspensions such as players in the Majors have via unionization.

At this point last season, there had been three suspensions against the Major League drug policy (Guillermo Mota of the Giants, 100 games for Clenbuterol - Freddy Galvis of the Phillies, 50 games for metabolite of Clostebol, and Marlon Byrd who was a free agent at the time, 50 games for Tamoxifen). And, technically, there was four. Eliezer Alfonzo of the Rockies had his 100 game suspension for elevated levels of Testosterone rescinded. While the Biogenesis case is still looming, thus far in 2013 there have been none in the Majors.

A large percentage in this drop across the Minors centers on “drug of abuse”. These are suspensions around street drugs as opposed to PEDs. There have been 8 for drug of abuse thus far in the Minors. In 2012 it was 20 at this date on the calendar, which accounted for 40 percent of the total suspensions.

The question will be how suspensions play out of the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues where a large majority of suspensions occur across baseball. As of today there have been just three suspensions (two out of the DSL and one out of the VSL), with there being four out of the DSL and one out of the VSL at this point last year. With those leagues seeing a spike in suspensions in July and August, it’s too soon to know if there will be a decline or increase this year.

It is early in the year, and it’s unclear if this will be something that will continue over the long haul, but one can hope that as the official put it, the message is getting across. It’s also always going to be a case of cat and mouse between the chemists coming up with the designer PED cocktails that MLB players are likely to use, and those doing the testing. For now, that game continues.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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The Definitive Case of Whether the A’s or Giants Once Controlled San Jose PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 22:44

The Battle for San Jose

The story is convoluted and obscured over time. The principles in the story have moved on, or passed away. The clubs at the heart of the debate have nearly shifted 180 degrees from where they once were, and the structure of Major League Baseball is under an entirely different organizational structure.

The story of who once controlled or gave away control of Santa Clara Co. has taken on new meaning now that the City of San Jose is suing the Office of the Commissioner saying that they are being aggrieved by the league’s arcane rules by disallowing the Athletics to move there. A large part of their case that challenges Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption rests on the telling of how the San Francisco Giants acquired the now coveted region from the A’s.

On page 5 of the complaint (read it here), the plaintiffs claim:

In 1990, when the San Francisco Giants were considering selling the team and moving to Florida, Bob Lurie, the then-owner of the Giants, expressed interest in moving to San José. To accommodate the Giants, Walter Haas, the Athletics then-owner, gave his consent for the Giants to relocate to San José for no consideration paid to the Athletics. As a result, the MLB Constitution was amended to provide that the Giants hold territorial rights to the County of Santa Clara, which includes the City of San José. The Giants twice were unsuccessful in their attempt to obtain a publicly-funded stadium in the South Bay and although the Giants did not move, the Giants continued to claim the territorial rights to the County of Santa Clara.

The problem with this is it’s not the simple and it’s not as clear as it would be made out to be.

Two Leagues, Different Rules

A problem in the telling of the story of who controlled Santa Clara Co. is that unlike the filing by San Jose, the league was not under one set of rules—one Constitution that guided matters such as the territories of each of the clubs. At the time of Bob Lurie’s attempt to gain access to Santa Clara Co., the National League and American League were separate leagues. It was not until 2000 that Major League Baseball (under Bud Selig) determined a unified set of rules that governed territories based upon counties, rather than distance by radius, would become how to prevent potential land grabs, such as was seen in the 1960s during the Expansion Era. So, the plaintiff’s claim that, “As a result, the MLB Constitution was amended to provide that the Giants hold territorial rights to the County of Santa Clara, which includes the City of San José.” Is not quite correct. At least, not based upon the timeline provided. That would occur later. That would occur, not by one that owned rights or even shared rights relinquished control of Santa Clara Co., but rather, a discussion around something not controlled by either.

No Man’s Land

Here’s the truth of the matter: in the late ‘80s when Lurie failed to get a new ballpark built in San Francisco, and later when he saw not one, but two referendums fail to allow the Giants to move to Santa Clara Co., neither the Giants or the A’s controlled the area. It was, for lack of a better term, “no man’s land.” Remember, this is before Silicon Valley would explode into a major source of sponsors, and season ticket holders with deep wells of disposable income. At the time, the location was not nearly as fertile as it is seen now. The A’s had swept the Giants in the 1989 “Earthquake” World Series. The Giants played in Candlestick Park, and while not entirely new, the A’s were enjoying Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum before Al Davis would build in 1996 what would called “Mt. Davis”, blocking the view of the Oakland Hills. As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 2009:

As Wally Haas tells the story, the A's were approached by Giants exec Corey Busch requesting exclusive rights to the area before the Giants' proposed ballparks in Santa Clara and San Jose.

The A's said OK, and the transfer became official when baseball owners granted approval.

That was it.

"We shared the territorial rights up to that point, the Giants and the A's," Haas said on the set of "Chronicle Live" on Thursday. "They asked if we would cede those rights to them so they could go through the referendum, and we felt that was fine."

Except that wasn’t quite it. Yes, Busch approached Haas. Yes, Haas agreed to give the Giants access to Santa Clara Co., but it was because no one controlled the area. It was a case of, “Since neither one of us own this location, you mind if we take it?”

The problem was, there was nothing memorialized that said that if the Giants didn’t get the referendums passed the territory would go back to being neutral or even co-controlled in the truest sense as many clubs that reside in single-large markets now share. As the Shea story adds, "Once the referendums failed, one could say, 'Well, maybe you should have gone back to a shared situation,' " said Haas, son of the late owner Walter Haas Jr. "We didn't ask for it. We weren't looking to build a new stadium. That's just the way it stood."

And since then, the issue has changed. The Giants will say that they’ve cultivated the market and it was a wholly different time when sponsorship dollars were not as hotly contested as they were prior. The A’s will say that the Giants aren’t truly forced into the situation, but that they’re not exactly moving the karma meter forward, and that technicalities be damned, it’s the right thing to do. Look at what’s occurred. It’s come to the league’s antitrust status being challenged.

The Legal Case Has Holes, but It Could Force the Issue

The San Jose case has serious holes in it. For one, the complaint tries to make claim that on Dec. 31 of 2012, the league’s constitution expired, and MLB is ostensibly running around without one in place. This would be like saying that the CBA between the league and the MLBPA was about to expire and no one was paying attention. There is of course one in place, however gaining access to a copy is likely only going to surface through the power of subpoena. As to a subpoena, a recent San Francisco Chronicle column made it sound like Bud Selig had been hiding in closets for 3 days, terrified at the San Jose’s case challenging MLB’s antitrust status. The papers were served at the New York offices of the league, not Milwaukee where Selig retains his office. That’s why there was a delay. It’s not as if the league hasn’t been subpoenaed.

All the positioning aside, the matter of relocation to San Jose—either by brute force by the courts or the league’s owners voting in favor—comes with serious barbs. In either of those scenarios, the precedent would be set to allow other clubs to move about more freely. Don’t think Stu Sternberg wouldn’t consider moving the Rays to Newark, NJ after the A’s got into San Jose?

And then there’s the potential lawsuit by the Giants, although in Article VI (Arbitration), Section 2 of the June 2005 copy of the Major League Constitution reads (bolding by author):

The Major League Clubs recognize that it is in the best interests of Baseball that all actions taken by the Commissioner under the authority of this Constitution, including, without limitation, Article II and this Article VI, be accepted and complied with by the Clubs, and that the Clubs not otherwise engage in any form of litigation between or among themselves or with any Major League Baseball entity, but resolve their differences pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution. In furtherance thereof, the Clubs (on their own behalf and including, without limitation, on behalf of their owners, officers, directors and employees) severally agree to be finally and unappealably bound by actions of the Commissioner and all other actions, decisions or interpretations taken or reached pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution and severally waive such right of recourse to the courts as would otherwise have existed in their favor. In the event of any legal action other than as prescribed by Section 1 of this Article VI by any Club (including, without limitation, their owners, officers, directors  and employees) in connection with any dispute or controversy related in any way to  professional baseball, or in the event of noncompliance with any action of the Commissioner, with any action or decision taken or reached pursuant to the provisions  of this Constitution, or with the terms or intent of this Article VI, in addition to any other remedy that may be available to the Commissioner, the Commissioner may direct that the costs, including attorneys' fees, to the Office of the Commissioner or any other Baseball entity, whether as plaintiff or defendant, of any court proceeding or other form of litigation resulting therefrom be reimbursed to the Office of the Commissioner or such other Baseball entity by such non-complying Club (on its own behalf and including, without limitation, on behalf of its owners, officers, directors and employees). Nothing herein shall be construed to limit any rights of indemnity that the Major League Clubs or any Major League Baseball entity may have against any Club.

There is truth that the league sees powers that they wish to retain, especially as it pertains to territorial movement of the clubs. This is not unique to baseball. All the major sports leagues have held this interest. In that, the change from the time when Bob Lurie approached Walter Haas has changed dramatically. That move in 2000 that united the National and American Leagues, the umpires and the overarching facets that now make Major League Baseball one entity have changed. The constitution has been altered to where this mess (yes, that’s what we will call it) between the A’s and Giants would have never occurred. Now, 75 percent of the league’s owners must approve relocation or expansion, which would tie into a vote to amend the league constitution to redefine who controls (or co-controls) a territory. In that, there could be a historic sense of the ironic involved. While it is impossible to see what the final outcome of the legal case by San Jose, or whether Commissioner Selig and the owners finally move on the matter by their own accord, the possibility that one part of the solution would see the A’s and the Giants co-control Santa Clara Co. It seems unfathomable that the Giants would relinquish it entirely. Not that Corey Busch didn’t approach Walter Haas on behalf of Bob Lurie and say, “Walter, you mind if we take this land… if you’re not?” In the end, Santa Clara Co. will never become no man’s land again… but it could certainly be something that both the A’s and Giants would have a vested controlling interest in.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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The History of MLB Antitrust Exemption and San Jose’s Effort to Land the A’s PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:46

Oakland A'sOn Tuesday, the City of San Jose filed an antitrust lawsuit charging Major League Baseball has thwarted efforts to allow the Oakland Athletics to relocate there. The Giants currently have the rights to Santa Clara Co. and have said that they are not willing to relinquish it, even though former A’s owner Walter Haas gave it to the Giants in 1990 to allow the Giants to potentially move to the Santa Clara area. After the Giants saw not one, but two referendums fail that would have allowed the Giants to relocate to San Jose, a last ditch-effort resulted in what is now AT&T Park. The problem was, the territory was reaffirmed as the Giants’ even though they no longer were looking to move to the territory that Haas had relinquished.

The lawsuit at hand (you can read it here) is the latest attempt to overturn MLB antitrust exemption. Although the NFL sees limited antitrust exemption for television, baseball is the only N. American sports league to still see such sweeping antitrust privileges.

In 1922, the Supreme Court first considered the application of federal antitrust law to professional sports in Federal Baseball Clubs, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs (read here). In the opinion delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, he said that baseball was not interstate commerce, and therefore not subject to the Sherman Act:

The business is giving exhibitions of base ball, which are purely state affairs. It is true that in order to attain for these exhibitions the great popularity that they have achieved competitions must be arranged between clubs from different cities and States. But the fact that in order to give the exhibitions the Leagues must induce free persons to cross state lines and must arrange and pay for their doing so is not enough to change the character of the business.

Since then, there have been other antitrust cases surrounding relocation. Most notably, Al Davis sued the NFL in 1982 saying that they were blocking his efforts to move to the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. Indeed, the court ruled in his favor. On the other hand, the court did not rule in favor of the Clippers in the ‘80s when they looked to move from San Diego to Los Angeles (see NBA v. SDC Basketball Club, Inc.). In that case, the Ninth Circuit held that sports league created restrictions on franchise movement do not constitute per se violations of antitrust law. In other words, each case must be individually evaluated against the Sherman Act which seeks to prevent monopolies in business.

Since then, the court has been leery of weighing in on league powers over relocation. Most recently a US Bankruptcy judge refused to address relocation as part of an attempt by former Blackberry co-CEO Jim Balsillie to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and relocate them to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In his decision, Judge Redfield T. Baum wrote, "In hockey parlance, the court is passing the puck to the NHL who can decide to take another shot at the sale net or it can pass off the puck."

Back to the San Jose lawsuit, there are some problems that if allowed to fully move forward do not bode well for the city. For one, this isn’t a case where ownership of the A’s is filing the suit, such as the case was with Al Davis and the Raiders. Davis argued he was being monetarily damaged for the NFL’s efforts to block him. The City of San Jose is ostensibly trying to make the argument that the A’s would make (the complaint seeks action for violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Tortious Interference with Contractual Advantage, and Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and for violation of the federal Sherman Act, and violation of California’s Cartwright Act, adding, “Plaintiffs have suffered and continue to suffer damages and antitrust injury in the millions of dollars due to Defendants’ unreasonable restraint of trade.”), but it’s difficult to say that the city is being damaged to a level of extent that might allow antitrust exemption for baseball to be overturned.

But, the question is, does San Jose need this case to run the distance?

The fact that the last real challenge to baseball’s antitrust exemption was in 1972 in Flood v Kuhn (read here) in which Curt Flood sought to break the reserve clause and allow for free agency says that baseball has been able to dodge the matter. But, recently, not only has San Jose been involved in going after MLB’s antitrust exemption, but they are named in a class-action suit by fans over league broadcast blackout policies. Is San Jose simply doing this as a test case to see if they can garner the same result?

Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred issued a statement in response to the lawsuit filed by the City of San Jose and was quick to defend the league’s position.

“In considering the issues related to the Oakland Athletics, Major League Baseball has acted in the best interests of our fans, our communities and the league,” said Manfred. “The lawsuit is an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional sports league. It is regrettable that the city has resorted to litigation that has no basis in law or in fact.”

If MLB were concerned enough to prevent the antitrust case to go the distance, it could act as a forcing function to achieve the move by the A’s. First off, the league constitution (read here) would need to be amended. While the complaint against MLB claims that the A’s and Giants are currently the only single market in which territory is not shared, the fact is, the league has always seen Oakland and San Francisco as two distinct markets. In that, the Giants physical territory would need to be amended to move Santa Clara Co. back to the A’s as it currently reads as follows:

City of San Francisco; and San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Counties in California; provided, however, that with respect to all Major League Clubs, Santa Clara County in California

To do this would require 75 percent approval by the league’s owners. On top of that, 75 percent of the owners would have to vote in favor of allowing the A’s to move to San Jose. It is safe to say that if one aspect was voted in favor, so would the other.

In the midst of all of this are the Giants who will be continuing to fight the matter tooth and nail. In order to have Selig, the league and the owners push the relocation  through it will require indemnifying the Giants. To what extent and how that would happen is a question difficult to answer. While the league got the last relocation through in 2005 with the Expos relocating to Washington, DC against the Orioles’ will, that was done with the creation of a regional sports network when MASN was created. At the time, the league agreed to the following:

  • A guarantee that will keep Baltimore’s annual revenues no lower than $130 million. If they do drop below that threshold, MLB will make up the difference;
  • A minimum franchise value for the Orioles at around $360 million; and
  • A 90 percent equity in MASN to the Orioles while the Nationals initially received only 10 percent. That increases for the Nationals over the life of the 23-year agreement to 33 percent.

The problem is  the Giants already own 30 percent of CSN Bay Area, and the A’s are on CSN California. Both clubs would need to be able to back out of their agreements and allow for the creation of a new RSN, something that would flood the market with another RSN.

The other option would be for some form of revenue-sharing from the A’s to the Giants. This would seem to run counter to one of the core issues at hand which is relocation to San Jose is designed to increase revenues from the state that they are now in Oakland. The A’s could move to San Jose, but still be at a revenue disadvantage.

None of this is easy, even if the league were to finally stand up and say that they need to allow for the A’s to relocate. From the beginning the issue has been one of self-preservation by the league and its clubs. After all, if San Jose were able to force MLB’s hand, then it would set a precedent for other clubs in the league to relocate. The Tampa Bay Rays are still trying to figure out how to get out of Tropicana Field. If the A’s went to San Jose, could that open up the possibility of Northern New Jersey pressing to get the Rays there against the will of the Yankees and Mets?

All we know is this… there will be many months for this to play out. The league may try to get the case dismissed, but that doesn’t seem likely. San Jose may prevail in getting the case heard, but chances of them winning seem long. And finally, while it’s likely a long shot, the league could lose antitrust exemption—a most coveted and fought after advantage for the league—at the risk of trying to fight the case. There will be many months to see if this is a game of chicken or not.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.

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