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.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.