Facebook and Google haves been in the headlines, alleged to be competitive menaces, but forget about it. Major League Baseball, in truth, is antitrust predator No. 1. In a lawsuit in formation likely involving the 41 American communities just savaged by MLB’s exercise of monopoly power, it will be shown that the 30 MLB teams have not merely colluded but that Major League Baseball is itself an antitrust conspiracy.

The Ogden Raptors’ and 40 other teams’ loss of their Major League affiliations, collusively decreed by MLB and its teams, was accompanied by MLB downsizing the minor league draft by a full 50%. Those were just the most recent overt acts of the conspiracy that has been the modus operandi for the majors since 1922. That year, the Supreme Court either naively or cynically ruled that baseball was exempt from antitrust law because it wasn’t a business but a gentlemen’s sport and didn’t involve interstate commerce, despite rabid rivalries among teams in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and other states. The 1922 precedent called Federal Baseball v. National League fits the classic criteria for the high court to overrule a previous decision. The decision is not only erroneous but was “wrong when decided.”

The 41 minor league teams that MLB just tried to kill — and has already succeeded with some like the Staten Island Yankees — are the heart and soul of diverse communities “all over this land.” They enrich life in states and regions red, blue, pink and purple. Among them are New York’s Capital region; Lowell, Massachusetts; Bluefield, West Virginia; Frederick, Maryland; Clinton, Iowa; Kingsport, Tennessee; Billings, Montana; and yes, Ogden, Utah.

The basis for killing these teams is simply that MLB decided it was their time. Most of the targeted teams had strong attendance and economics. Many played in modern or recently refurbished stadiums — upgraded at public expense. No matter, the MLB conspiracy and monopoly decreed “you’re done.”

Early in this plague year, MLB floated a list of 40 teams likely to get the axe. The final roster of 41 teams reflects a year of lobbying and pleas by elected officials that altered the final hit list. It also explains why Congress has failed for nearly a century to legislatively end the antitrust exemption for a business that profited by $11 billion during the last full season. Instead of ending the exemption once and for all, members of Congress pleaded and bargained with MLB to spare their particular community or to throw their city a bone. For example, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s pleas saved the Binghamton franchise, but failed to spare the Tri-City Valley Cats and the Staten Island team. The 2019 world champion Washington Nationals exist only because, when threatened with the loss of their antitrust exemption, MLB moved the Expos from Montreal to the District of Columbia to mollify and entertain senators and members of the House of Representatives.

That’s no way to play legislator or baseball. Congress has dropped the ball many times. The perverse baseball exemption must and will end only when the 41 targeted American communities band together, go to court and win this game.

Lloyd Constantine practices law in Manhattan. He was chief of New York’s Antitrust Bureau for a decade, taught antitrust law at Fordham Law School, testified before Congress on antitrust law numerous times and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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