The minor leaguers’ antitrust lawsuit was dismissed


In early 2014 several minor leaguers filed a putative class action antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball alleging that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited and that the Uniform Player Contract unfairly takes advantage of them.

The upshot: excluding bonuses which only a few minor leaguers get in any real size, Major League Baseball often pays minor leaguers less than $7,500 for an entire season and requires mandatory overtime in violation of state and federal wage laws. The Uniform Player Contract they are required to sign binds them to a team and keeps them from shopping their services elsewhere. Though they are only paid during the season, they are required to perform duties such as training, meetings and the like all year long and their duties and obligations to the club extend on a year-round basis too.

There was a lot of superficial appeal to the suit — to fight it on the merits, baseball was prepared to argue that minor leaguers are more like seasonal workers who are not entitled to labor law protection — but the merits of the thing will not be heard, it seems. The case was dismissed. The reason? Baseball’s antitrust exemption. From the judge’s decision:

“Plaintiffs have a persuasive policy argument that the Defendants should not be afforded carte blanche to restrict the pay and mobility of minor league players without answering to the federal antitrust laws that apply to the employment of major league baseball players and, for that matter, all other professional sports leagues. But that policy argument must be made to Congress or the Supreme Court.”

Which was always going to be the highest burden here.

Baseball, of course, should not have an antitrust exemption. There’s no good reason for it and it’s original imposition was based on both a factual and legal fiction of baseball teams being little self-contained storefronts, operating independently from one another in far flung, isolated towns. In reality it’s a nearly $10 billion business using the federally-regulated airwaves to realize most of their income and using almost exclusively government-funded facilities to generate the rest.

But heaven forbid its workers get any protection of the federal laws. That, my friends, would be socialism!

Meanwhile, minor leaguers will spend the winter either asking people if they want fries with that in order to make ends meet or working for no pay at all to benefit the organizations which prohibit them from working for a competitor for several years.

UPDATE: Note, this case, the Miranda case, was not the case in which players sued for violations of the minimum wage laws. That case was the Senne v. MLB case, and it’s still active.

Justin Turner suffers broken wrist after being hit by a pitch

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner left Monday’s Cactus League game against the Athletics after he was hit by a pitch. He went for X-rays, revealing that he suffered a broken wrist, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. Shaikin adds that Turner is unlikely to return before May, noting that Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman missed six weeks with a similar injury last year and Astros outfielder George Springer missed nine weeks in 2015.

Needless to say, this is a huge loss for the Dodgers. Last year, Turner hit .322/.415/.530 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI in 543 plate appearances, helping the Dodgers reach the World Series. He made the All-Star team for the first time in his career and finished eighth in NL MVP balloting.

Thankfully, the Dodgers have some versatile players on the roster. Logan Forsythe could move from second base to third, giving Chase Utley more playing time at second. Enrique Hernandez could man the hot corner as well. Chris Taylor has played some third base, or he could shift to second base in Forsythe’s stead. The club should shed some light on how it plans to move forward following Turner’s injury.