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It’s a Great Game
But A Funny Business
Think NFL Deflategate was a Brawl? Read Lawyerball!
An owners’ fight over an “inside baseball” arbitration splitting cable television profits spills into a New York City trial court. Lawyerball traces this dispute from the baseball antitrust exemption to the implications of the judge’s rulings for the baseball business, the game, its fans, and ordinary Americans.
Lawyerball tells the story of the monopolization of baseball as an American business, and its disappearance from much of American life. It has lessons about the shrinking rights of Americans to go to court with their grievances. It also has lessons about the vanishing freedom of Americans to choose their work. This story about the future of baseball might foretell the future of America.
In 2005, thirty Major League Baseball clubs owned the near-bankrupt Montreal Expos. The clubs signed a television contract with the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles owner agreed to not sue MLB over the relocation of the Expos to Washington, D.C. In return, MLB gave the Orioles the rights to cablecast the Washington Nationals future games. MLB then sold the Expos to a Washington real estate billionaire. He had to work with the Orioles owner, a class-action lawyer, to make a contract work that he had not negotiated.
The first time these owners were required to cooperate, accusations flew between them. Three years later, the Orioles, the Nationals and MLB sat before a New York trial judge. He would decide how to shift more than $100 million dollars between the teams. He would chart the future of baseball.
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-The Winter Meetings, 1958-2016
“Has A New Diamond Age Begun for Baseball?”
Enter your email at the bottom menu of this page to get the Resources Page password. Then visit the continuously updated Resources Page of PDFs of legal and other documents (at least twenty) helpful for understanding the Lawyerball lawsuit and the business of baseball, including these documents.
1876 National League Constitution
This document created the first of the two surviving major leagues. Reserve clause rules were added in 1882.
1903 AL-NL Peace Agreement
This agreement ended the inter-league war for players with an agreement to respect every club’s contract reserve clauses.
1903 National Agreement
The 1883 version obligated the major and minor league signatories to respect each other’s reserve clauses. The 1903 version applied to the new American League, added a three-member Commission to govern both major leagues, and established club relocation rules for major and affiliated minor leagues.
2005 MLB Constitution
This MLB Constitution expired in 2012 and has not been replaced.
2008 Major League Rules
The Major League Rules establish comprehensive rules for the business operations of baseball.
2005 Orioles-Nationals Television Contract
This contract was made between the Orioles and MLB, when all thirty clubs owned the Montreal Expos. It bound the new Washington Nationals owners when they bought the relocated team.
About the Author
Charles H. Martin is an attorney with more than twenty years of experience practicing law for private, government and corporate clients. He taught as a full-time professor of contracts, sales law and international law at U.S. and foreign law schools and universities. He graduated cum laude from Harvard College. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California (Boalt Hall) School of Law, and his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. He is the author of Every1’s Guide to Electronic Contracts and academic articles on contract law, sales law and international law.