A judge grants class action status to lawsuit against MLB and the NHL over blackouts

31 Comments

There is still a long way to go here — and this case has been marinating for over two years now — but this is a big hurdle cleared:

U.S. District Court judge Shira Scheindlin yesterday granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify class action status in an antitrust lawsuit against MLB and the NHL, a case that threatens to demolish the decades-old blackout system in sports media.

You can reade the decision here.

The underlying lawsuit is pretty straightforward: Major League Baseball has illegally used its monopoly power to restrict the market for televised baseball gamed via its blackout system and its failure to make available a service that allows fans out of a team’s market to buy just one team’s games as opposed to an entire service like Extra Innings or MLB.tv.

At issue in class certification was whether every consumer affected by blackouts is affected in the same way or if, alternatively, thousands of separate trials would have to be had for consumers from various different markets trying to access games from various different markets. This is a big win for the plaintiffs who now have the leverage of numbers and the ability to prove one case in order to prevail.

Practically speaking, this creates more pressure on MLB to find a way to end its dumb and antiquated blackout policies. Something it’s been trying to do for some time but on which it cannot seem to come to agreement with cable providers and regional sports networks.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
Getty Images
2 Comments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.