Jul 19, 2010, 9:41 AM EST
The daily blow-by-blow of the legal battle involving the sale of the Texas Rangers has gotten so technical and boring that it’s understandable if you’ve tuned out by now. But the big picture is still a fascinating one. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of it all is that, at its heart, the Rangers sale is all about Major League Baseball insisting and expecting that it be allowed to act differently than just about any other business in America.
As the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson report in a nice 10,000-foot view article today, baseball doesn’t expect its owners to sell to the high bidder and it doesn’t expect to have to explain why the lower bidder should win. Except now it’s in federal court, and federal judges are decidedly hostile to anyone who expects them to uphold and apply self-interested and economically illogical policies like that.
I blame Oliver Wendell Holmes. He’s the guy who gave baseball its antitrust exemption all those years ago, thereby infusing its leaders with the belief that the laws really don’t apply to them, even beyond the relatively narrow — and increasingly narrowing — confines of Holmes’ original exemption. It’s what led to the owners treating the players like cattle long after labor enlightenment came to the rest of the workforce. It’s what has helped foster the clubby and insular environment in which owners operate even until today.
Sad really. And though I think it’s asking too much for the Rangers’ bankruptcy to blow baseball’s antiquated and anti-competitive system to bits, I think it will serve as an important step in that direction.
- The Padres have given their fans something to talk about. Which is badly needed in San Diego. 45
- Justin Upton traded to the Padres for three prospects 78
- Bud Selig will get a $6 million a year pension. Which is obscene. 133
- Jake Peavy agrees to a two-year, $24 million deal to stay with the San Francisco Giants 22
- Matt Kemp has officially been traded to the Padres 29
- Padres acquire catcher Derek Norris from Athletics 35
- St. Petersburg City Council votes down deal to allow Rays to look for new stadium site 90
- What will the future of Cuban players in MLB look like? 25
- Baseball’s highest-ranking Hispanic woman employee sues for discrimination (163)
- The United States will seek to normalize relations with Cuba (144)
- Bud Selig will get a $6 million a year pension. Which is obscene. (133)
- Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Rangers, and Astros interested in Phillies’ Cole Hamels (111)
- Rays, Padres, Nationals agree to 11-player trade (97)