Rearguing the Curt Flood case

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s baseball bonafides are beyond reproach. A big Yankees fan from youth. The judge who effectively ended the strike in 1995. She knows her stuff.

So she was the perfect choice to sit in on a mock oral re-argument of the famous Curt Flood case, which sought to end the reserve clause and grant the players free agency.  Flood lost that round, of course, but it paved the way for the institution of free agency a few years later.

NPR has the story about it here. This exchange made me chuckle. Remember: they’re pretending it’s 1972 and the consequences of free agency are yet unknown:

Sotomayor, in mock horror, said that if the antitrust exemption were abolished and owners could no longer collude to set player salaries at will, the Yankees might have to pay Reggie Jackson $1 million a year!

Worse, replied Karlan, would be if the Yanks paid Alex Rodriguez a quarter of a billion dollars not to play.

“I can’t imagine such a thing!” answered a shocked Sotomayor.

She also gets a dig in at the Red Sox’ World Series drought, which was probably fun for her.  It’s also clear that if Sotomayor was on the court in 1972 she would not have joined the majority in upholding the reserve clause.  Too bad she wasn’t.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.