Around the League: Huge Stories Brewing, Including PED Suspensions and a Monopoly Lawsuit

ryan braun whoaThe last couple days have generated some big, big stories around baseball, as well as some interesting discussion-piece articles …

  • One of the biggest stadium-related story lines in baseball has nothing to do with the renovation of Wrigley Field. Instead, it’s the ongoing saga involving the Oakland A’s, their awful facilities and location, and their fight to get MLB to help them move to San Jose. MLB, primarily because the San Francisco Giants claim territorial rights to the San Jose area, has dragged its feet for several years trying to come up with a solution. Well, the city of San Jose is now trying to force the issue, having filed suit against MLB, claiming a host of state and federal law violations, the most interesting of which is the claim of an illegal monopoly that illegally restricts the rights of San Jose to land an MLB team (to wit, the A’s). That kind of antitrust claim is both typical and useful in the business world, but, as you may know, MLB has been granted an antitrust exemption courtesy of the Supreme Court, the parameters of which (and legitimacy of which) have been debated and construed by other courts for decades. The A’s/San Jose piece of this story is absolutely hugely important, but a serious challenge to baseball’s antitrust exemption – which this case may or may not present – could have far-reaching consequences. That exemption arguably allows MLB, and its member organizations, to make a whole lot of money outside the typical course of business in other industries. Hopefully this San Jose case doesn’t go away quietly and quickly, because this is a ripe, deep, and complex issue that I’d love to discuss over the coming months (and years, really).
  • From a lawsuit against MLB to a lawsuit filed by MLB, the Biogenesis case is ramping up. At last check, you’ll recall the ESPN report that MLB was, in fact, planning to suspend players connected to the alleged PED clinic in Miami, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. MLB has been working with the man behind the clinic, Tony Bosch, who has reportedly agreed to provide details on the players he serviced, which could number in the dozens. Now, Jon Heyman reports that MLB has started meeting with players implicated in the scandal, and sources tell him at least some suspensions will be coming. We may not hear about them until the appeal process is concluded, though.
  • Speaking of the Biogenesis case, the publication that broke the original story – the Miami New Times – has a follow-up of how it all happened, and the story reads like something straight out of a movie script. It’s almost unbelievable, but here we are.
  • A couple weeks ago, I read snippets of a study out of Vanderbilt that suggested that players are wearing down by the end of the year and it’s showing in their plate discipline. I’d intended to dig into the study as part of an Around the League, but there wasn’t quite enough going on at that time to justify a piece. Then Jonah Keri bailed me out with a lengthy write-up on the study, and an exploration of its implications. It’s a great read. It also makes me wonder if that fatigue impact is disproportionately true for the Chicago Cubs, where the constant readjustment of the body clock is even more pronounced. NEED. MOAR. EXCUSEZ.
  • The next international signing period opens up July 2, and the Cubs are likely to be in on some of the top prospects, what with their second-largest spending pool in baseball. Ben Badler writes about how teams without huge pools could take advantage of some shady dealings to land better players than they are supposed to be landing by essentially paying a trainer for a kid in one signing period, but signing him (for far less money) in a subsequent period. The last signing period is now closed, so we’re not likely to see this loophole exploited until May/June next year – and MLB may have dealt with it by then.
  • Drew Sheppard, the layered GIF master, is back with a look at RA Dickey’s knuckleball. He also writes some thoughtful things about why Dickey isn’t as effective this year, but, I mean … the GIFs are the best part. Here’s an example, showing the ridiculous range of movement last year:

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

52 responses to “Around the League: Huge Stories Brewing, Including PED Suspensions and a Monopoly Lawsuit”

  1. Idaho Razorback

    I’ve been to the “Old” Oakland Stadium and the new stadium. I had a lot of fun experiences at the old ball park. The new stadium, not so fun.

  2. cubchymyst

    The fatigue factor is good reason to give some of the players off days more often. I’d still like to see Castro get a day off. Was happy to see Rizzo get one off the other day.

    1. cubchymyst

      To anyone who saw the original study, the article says they compare April to September O-swing% did they take into account the expansion of the roster in September?

      1. demz

        I’m sure they had a min PA/game restriction in there.

        They would have to, otherwise the study would be total bunk.

        1. cubchymyst

          That is likely. I was just question it some since the write up said the combine results of the 30 teams and not player studied.

  3. King Jeff

    I’m glad to see the antitrust exemptions getting challenged. I think this has far reaching implications that could eventually drag in other major sports leagues that operate outside the law of normal business operations.

    1. mak

      Unfortunately, nothing to get excited about until a court rules that it no longer applies. There have been several “challenges” that all end in “if Congress intended to take away the exemption, it has had several opportunities to do so.” No reason to think it’ll change now.

    2. Edwin

      It’s an interesting topic. I’d be interested on an in-depth post covering both sides of the issue. To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought, and I don’t know much about antitrust laws, or antitrust exemptions.

      1. mak

        Antitrust law is complex, no doubt. But the basis for antitrust suits is, for the most part, based on two very simple rules (and then thousands of interpretive cases, rules, etc.)

        Section 1 of Sherman Act) Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.

        Section 2) “Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony”

        Obviously these cases deal with Section 1.

        In 1915, the Federal League sued MLB for Section 1 violations when MLB assisted its teams in hiring away players to MLB. The judge in that case was Keensaw Landis, a huge baseball fan (Cubs!) and future MLB commissioner. He ruled that because baseball has many unique needs to control the product on the field and make games uniform, it was special and exempt from the Sherman Act.

        That’s basically it in 100 words or less. Every time its challenged, the courts are bound to the Landis’ decision and only Congress may overturn the law with legislation. Over the years, of course, courts have chipped away at the exemption — for instance, the minor leagues are subject to the Sherman Act, licensing issues are as well and of course the labor market is subject to the Act (thanks Curt Flood).

        1. Edwin


  4. 70'scub

    These players that have gone to such lengths to cheat (last two years) need to be kicked out for life, and their stats need to be scrubbed from the books. Enough already, no industry should have to put up with people who cheat about it and get in your face with their high priced lawyers. Why can’t the players union protect the clean players?

    1. Edwin

      Why can’t the issue be about player heatlh instead of about morality and statistics?

      1. TWC

        Because we own them and their job is to play games for our edification and amusement. Jeez.

        1. hansman1982


        2. Edwin

          You’re so wise.

        3. DarthHater

          Then we should make it mandatory for them all to take PEDs and things will really get entertaining.

          1. Die hard

            Your high opinion of yourself is refreshing

            1. King Jeff

              Kettle, meet Die Hard.

      2. DarthHater

        Because if a player is too stupid to take care of his own health, that’s his own problem. But if he cheats and screws up the record books, then it also affects others. Human nature to be more upset about the second situation, than the first.

      3. 70'scub

        It is about preventing an arms race through drugs, some HS/College kid feels the need for PED’s to be able to compete. Some suggest the league MVP from the Brew Crew started drugging back in College. Clean players at all levels need protection.

        1. Edwin

          Agreed. I just think that issues with steroids should be more about the players’ health, and less about the moral issues of cheating, or statistics/records.

          The Players Union and MLB need to ensure that they’re maintaining a safe work enviroment. Allowing a culture to develope in which players feel pressured to experiment with drugs to maintain a competative edge is very much a problem.

          I think instead of offering Bosch a deal, the league should be going after Bosch, and any other dealer they can find. They should offer deals to players to expose drug dealers, and offer players treatment and therapy.

  5. gocatsgo2003

    My favorite part of the .gif is watching the catcher flail at the ball with his floppy softball mitt — if the catcher can’t actually corral the thing with that glove, it’s a semi-miracle when a player squares up a decent knuckler (though the “floaters” are essentially teed up).

  6. 70'scub

    50-100 games for cheating and life time ban for interfering with the official MLB investigation. Lying to MLB investigators is reason enough for the life time ban time, no more Arod’s-Braun’s and Melky should have been already banned for trying to cover up his cheating. We as fans need to be made certain that our hard earned cash is not used to support drug dealers is that simple enough to understand?

  7. Webb

    ” Tony Bosch… has reportedly agreed to provide details on the players he serviced, which could number in the dozens.”


    There was was a very distinctive mole…

    1. DrReiCow

      Takei voice: “Ohhh myyyyyyyyyy”


      1. TWC

        You’re a doctor now?

        1. DrReiCow



    2. Bric

      “Alex, drop your shorts and get on the table. Braun, I’ll be with you in about 15 minutes” – Actual audio from South Beach.

  8. steve123

    There may be some Cubs trade value that is gained through possible PED suspensions. Two off the top of my head would be Soriano/ Schierholtz replacing Nelson Cruz and possibly Darwin Barney replacing Peralta in Detroit. If Barney is traded, I would atleast demand something good (Smyly for Barney/ Gregg?), especially with his low cost the next few years.

    1. Webb

      With Sanchez on the shelf you could make a strong case to send Garza, Barney and Gregg to Detroit for long term quality prospects. Especially considering Mike Ilitch’s desire for a WS ring ASAP.

      1. steve123

        That would be a sweet deal, but i think the cubs would probably want atleast Chisenhall and more. Smyly and Chisenhall would be a sick deal. The cubs should also offer to pay all of Garza/Gregg/Barney’s salary for the rest of the year. This could make a deal slightly more likely and we have the money right now.

        1. steve123


        2. bbmoney

          Isn’t Chisenhall in the Indian’s org?

          1. bbmoney

            ha, got it.

            Not gonna get Castellanos for that though.

  9. cubbie blue thru n thru

    I read somewhere (can’t remember where exactly) that someone was saying San Jose used to be the A’s territory but they gave it to SF back when they were looking for a new stadium because they were looking in the San Jose area. take that for what its worth I have no idea if that’s what actually happened lol

  10. miggy80

    WoW that was a crazy story about the Biogenesis case. I think the MLB hands are the dirtiest of all.

  11. sprtswiz1

    That pitch to Jimmy Rollins is insane.

  12. JB88

    That is far and away one crazy, crazy story. 5-2 Quintin Tarantino buys the movie rights …

    1. miggy80

      I hope he gets a roided out Bruce Willis to play Porter Fisher.

      1. JB88

        It has to be Sly Stalone. I mean the symmetry would be just perfect.

        1. miggy80

          I wonder who Samuel Jackson would play?

          1. JB88

            Isn’t it obvious? Whoever the frank he wants to play.

            1. JB88

              I mean the man carried a wallet that read: “Bad Muthafucka” in a movie. He’s earned it.

              I nominate him for Bud Selig, personally. He’d really shine in that role, I think.

  13. Die hard

    Why would they think MLB would grant franchise if Monopoly struck down? Even absent this exemption MLB can vote move down

    1. mak

      Well, I think the point is, the courts would rule that MLB is not allowed to deny a franchise to any city/owner. Doing so violates the Sherman Act. So they aren’t trying to get MLB to grant them a franchise, they are trying to have the courts rule that MLB isn’t allowed to grant/deny franchises.

  14. Die hard

    Fatigue at end of season? Haha– don’t tell Durochers ghost about mishandling 1969 Cubs

  15. terencemann

    I’m no lawyer/judge but I’d be surprised if the Supreme Court would reverse itself on MLB’s anti-trust exemption and I sure as hell don’t see Congress doing anything to prevent itself from getting on tv every couple of years by calling MLB executives and/or players before Congress to testify. Seriously, Democrat or Republican, lawmakers really love being on tv.

  16. Joker

    Porter Fisher’s story is indeed straight out of a movie. The most realistic part? He seems to be a flawed “hero”. Not much of a hero at all, in fact – and not nearly as heroic as he believes himself to be. He clearly tried to screw over Bosch who in turn was a scumbag himself. With MLB acting as the heavies along with the other shadowy third parties, this does make a great story but who in the world could you root for?

    1. JB88

      I root for Chili Palmer. I mean the Shylock had it coming, right?

  17. TSB

    Simple, The A’s get the fans from San Jose, and the Giants can have the fans from Oakland; all four of them…

  18. 5412


    Filing an antitrust lawsuit sure will make MLB want to move to San Jose…..

    At the same time, isn’t that the 9th circut court? If so, that is the most liberal court in the land and MLB might get a surprise, which of course they would appeal all the way to the supreme court.


  19. jim

    No monopoly? I may have to become a havana cigaros fan ;-)

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