MLBits: The U.S. Senate vs. MLB, Rutschman’s Debut Season, Moving the A’s to Vegas? #VoteHapp, More

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Senate are setting their sights on baseball’s century-old antitrust exemption.

U.S. Senate Targets MLB’s Antitrust Exemption

Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee have set their sights on Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have sent a letter to the non-profit Advocates for Minor Leaguers. Durbin and Grassley are seeking information on three things:

  1. The pay structure for minor leaguers.
  2. The MLB-orchestrated reduction in the number of minor league affiliates.
  3. The state of MLB’s international amateur system.

The two-page letter from Durbin and Grassley comes just weeks after the Department of Justice asked a federal court to limit the scope of MLB’s antitrust exemption.

Here’s what Dick Durbin said about the request in a statement:

“We need to examine how Major League Baseball’s 100-year-old antitrust exemption is affecting the operation of Minor League baseball teams and the ability of Minor League ballplayers to make a decent living,” said Durbin, the U.S. Senate Majority Whip, in a statement. “This bipartisan request for information will help inform the Committee about the impact of this exemption, especially when it comes to Minor League and international prospects. We need to make sure that all professional ballplayers get to play on a fair and level field.”

Major League Baseball has held its antitrust since 1922, in a move that Harry Marino of Advocates for Minor Leaguers says is a mistake repeatedly acknowledged by the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged that was an error and refused to extend the exemption to other professional sports,” Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said in a statement. “The Court has left it to Congress, however, to fix the mistake. Today, four senior United States senators — including two from each political party — took a significant step toward doing just that.

“Minor League players are far and away the group most negatively impacted by baseball’s antitrust exemption. MLB owners should not have a special license to underpay their workers. We are confident that Congress will recognize as much through this process and, ultimately, repeal baseball’s antitrust exemption as it relates to issues concerning Minor League players.”

Brett put together some thoughts on the situation earlier this month:

Rutschman, O’s Make Homer History in Seattle

Adley Rutschman’s long-awaited debut hasn’t rung in with the bang some expected, or maybe just hoped. The former No. 1 overall pick (2019) is hitting just .234 with three home runs in 121 plate appearances for the O’s. One of Rutschman’s three dingers came last night in Seattle, creating a special moment for Adley with his grandfather Ad in the stands at T-Mobile Park.

Rutschman’s grandfather Ad was watching Adley play in person for the first time on Monday night when Rutschman opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning. Rutschman one-upped his RBI single in his second at-bat with a home run to put the O’s up 3-0 in the second inning.

“Home run or not, just having him in the stands again, it’s so extremely important and special for me and my family. Having him be a person I look up to so much, it means the world,” Rutschman said. “Whether I hit a home run or had an 0-for-4 day, struck out four times, they’d still be smiling at the end of the game. That’s really what matters.”

Via Zachary Silver/MLB.com

Monday night wasn’t memorable for the former top pick alone. The Orioles made some history as a team in their win over the Mariners. Ryan Mountcastle hit a home run in the next at-bat in that second inning to put the Orioles up 4-0. Then Anthony Santander and Austin Hays did the same in the third inning. The pair of back-to-back home runs by Baltimore was the sixth time in franchise history they have accomplished the feat and the first time they’ve done so in consecutive innings.

The Orioles’ 9-2 win over Seattle was their ninth victory in their last 13 games. Baltimore has won or split each of their last six series and is 14-10 in June.

“We got a lot of confidence right now,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “Our dugout is as good as I’ve seen it here since I’ve been here. It’s just super positive, guys are really pulling for each other, and a lot of energy in there right now.”

Via Zachary Silver/MLB.com

The American League East is as tough of a division as any in baseball, but the Orioles, who haven’t made the Postseason since 2016 (Wild Card), appear to be heading in the right direction after a long rebuilding process that has seen them lose 455 games over the last five seasons. As for the cornerstone of that rebuild, Adley Rutschman is hitting .351/385/.784 (1.168 OPS) across his last 10 games after getting off to a very slow start.

Another Comeback Win for the Yankees

Fresh off of a come-from-behind victory on Sunday and two in their four-game series with the Astros, the Yankees had more magic up their sleeves on Monday night against the Oakland Athletics in The Bronx.

The Yankees were down 5-1 to Oakland early Monday when they began to chip away. Giancarlo Stanton homered in the bottom of the fourth, his 18th of the season, to make it 5-2. Then Aaron Judge drilled an RBI single off the outstretched glove of A’s shortstop Tony Kemp to plate DJ LeMahieu to make it 5-4. LeMahieu scored again in the fifth on a catcher’s interference to make it 5-4 and set up a bases-loaded at-bat for Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson drilled a two-run double down the left field line to put the Yankees on top 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jose Trevino and Marwin González drove in three more runs before the seventh inning was over to make it 9-5 New York. The Yankees would notch their MLB-best 23rd comeback win of the season and their 54th win of the season.

Odds and Ends …

  • Ian Happ is having a phenomenal season but will need a ton of help to get to L.A. for the MLB All-Star Game.
  • Happ deserves to be an All-Star this season, but regardless of whether or not he makes it to Los Angeles in July, his hot season has him popping up in trade discussions:
  • Tim Anderson is second in voting among AL shortstops. Anderson is hitting .339 with a .844 OPS, 145 wRC+, and 2.1 fWAR this season.
  • Angels interim manager Phil Nevin received 10 games for his part in Sunday’s brawl in Anaheim. Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker received seven games. In all, 12 players and coaches received a total of 47 games.
  • According to Josh Kosman of the New York Post, MLB is considering waiving the relocation fee for the A’s if they move to Las Vegas, a saving that could save the A’s up to $1 billion. Kosman reports that the A’s have been offered as much as $250 million in public funding to cover the costs of a new $1 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas.
  • Chad Kuhl tossed a complete-game shutout against the Dodgers on Monday night. Kuhl allowed just three hits over nine innings with five strikeouts and no walks on 102 pitches.
  • There’s no shortage of strong MVP cases as we prepare to flip the calendar to July:
  • Frank Thomas hit many home runs for the Sox, but Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams made sure he didn’t reach No. 500 in a White Sox uniform. On this day in 2007, The Big Hurt hit his 500th homer in a Blue Jays uniform. (Pain.)
  • We’ll wrap today’s bits with a wild stat:
  • written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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