Sports

Congress asks Rob Manfred for MLB antitrust rationale in letter

The Senate Judiciary Committee got to the point in a letter Monday to Commissioner Rob Manfred: If America’s other major sports must follow antitrust laws, why should baseball be exempt from that law?

On Thursday, Manfred told the Los Angeles Times that the only “really sensible” use of the exemption is to have franchise relocation controlled by the league. In Monday’s letter, the committee told Manfred it wanted to focus on “the impact of the exemption on competition in the labor market for minor league ballplayers as well as the operations of minor league teams.”

The letter specifically asked Manfred to commit to “no further contracting of minor league clubs”. When Major League Baseball took over the operations of the minor leagues last season, it eliminated 43 clubs that were affiliated with major league teams.

Manfred was asked to reply by July 26th. The responses, the letter said, would help the committee’s “analysis of the need for this centuries-old exemption.” The committee is considering legislation to remove the exemption entirely.

In its letter, the committee noted that the Justice Department had said in a recent court filing that the exemption “is not based on substantive political interests justifying players and fans losing the benefits of the competition.”

In a statement, MLB said, “We look forward to providing the committee with detailed information regarding baseball’s limited antitrust exemption and how it has provided stability of the franchise’s location at the major league level, the availability of baseball in the minor leagues for fans and created quality employment opportunities for emerging major leagues.”

The nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which responded to a similar letter from the committee this month, have been pushing for legislation that would remove the exemption related to minor league contracts, as the Curt Flood Act of 1998 did for major leagues .

“Since Commissioner Manfred asserted just last week that the antitrust exemption will not affect minor league baseball, we expect Major League Baseball will join us in asking Congress to enact the Minor League Curt Flood Act as soon as possible.” to say goodbye,” Advocates Executive Das said director Harry Marino in a statement.

After the committee requested information from Advocates in June about the exception and its implications, the organization responded by calling the exception “extraordinary and unjustified” and announcing the owners’ treatment of minor leagues – they signed a seven-year entry deal for an industry pay scale without the ability to negotiate with other teams as long as they remain under contract – would be “illegal” without the protections offered by the waiver.

“Most minor league players live below the state poverty line for one simple reason: baseball’s unique antitrust exemption prevents them from offering fair compensation,” proponents wrote in their response.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-07-18/mlb-antitrust-congress-letter-rob-manfred Congress asks Rob Manfred for MLB antitrust rationale in letter

Emma Bowman

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