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MLB's thinking that contraction isn't an impossibility
2006-02-11 09:52
by Bob Timmermann

The Marlins are looking for a stadium. The Twins lease is up at the end of the season. And Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune is worried that contraction may be back.

Under the terms of the Basic Agreement, MLB has the right to contract two teams before the 2007 season if it so chooses.

Don't worry folks, the Devil Rays are safe.

The relevant portion of the CBA is after the break.

H. Future Contraction
The Office of the Commissioner and/or the Clubs shall not undertake
any centralized effort to reduce the number of Major League Clubs
effective for a season covered by this Agreement. The Clubs shall,
however, have the right, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in
this Article XV(H), to reduce by as many as two (2) the number of
Major League Clubs effective for the 2007 championship season.
(1) Procedure
(a) The Clubs may not take a vote relating to contraction effective
for the 2007 season prior to April 1, 2006. The Clubs shall notify
the Association of any decision to contract effective for the 2007
championship season no later than July 1, 2006 and, on or before
that date, shall supply to the Association a tentative championship
schedule for the 2007 championship season reflecting such decision.
(b) Any decision to contract effective for the 2007 championship
season shall be subject to effects bargaining and such bargaining
shall commence no later than July 15, 2006.
(2) Covenants of the Clubs and the Association
In the event the Clubs vote to contract effective for the 2007
championship season:
(a) The Association, on behalf of itself and the Major League
Players, shall not bring in any forum any contractual or NLRA
challenge to the decision to contract (but not the effects thereof).
Moreover, the Association shall not pursue, encourage, finance or
assist any antitrust challenge to such decision to contract; and
(b) The Clubs shall not contend, in any litigation related to a
decision to contract effective for the 2007 championship season,
that the decision to contract is a mandatory subject of bargaining
under the NLRA. Notwithstanding subparagraph (a) above, the
Association may intervene in any such litigation to enforce the
covenant set out in this subparagraph (b).
(3) Exclusion
This Article XV(H) shall not preclude the owner or owners of an
individual Club from taking action (e.g., bankruptcy) that would
result in the elimination of such Club.

2006-02-11 08:08:18
1.   joejoejoe
Did they disband the judicial branch of government or did I miss something? Because last time they tried involuntary contraction Congress introduced legislation to strip MLB of their anti-trust exemption and Bud Selig shut up.
2006-02-11 09:21:29
2.   Bob Timmermann
I would assume that since the players and owners agreed to it through collective bargaining, that it must be OK.


2006-02-11 09:28:53
3.   Erik Siegrist
I'm pretty sure the deal with the last CBA is that the MLBPA simply agreed not to fight contraction through the courts, not that they agreed to it. That would still leave more than a few ways for the union to try to stop it, up to and including lobbying Congress to pick up their big stick and wave it around a bit.
2006-02-11 09:58:05
4.   Bob Timmermann
I posted the relevant part of the CBA. It looks to me that the Players Association agreed to not make any challenge to contraction if it is done before 2007 as long as the owners negotiate the effects.
2006-02-11 10:58:13
5.   joejoejoe
Bob Timmermann -
You may be correct about the Players Association not challenging the contraction but that doesn't prevent Congress, the fans, or community officials from challenging the contraction (and possibly the antitrust exemption) in court.

In Minnesota it was the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (operators of the Metrodome) that filed suit and received an injunction from the state courts preventing contraction. I don't see what has changed in the last few years to prevent the same thing happening again in 2006.

2006-02-11 11:17:34
6.   Bob Timmermann
Thanks for the comment. I see what you're getting at and it does seem like any team that is contracted would be dragged kicking and screaming out of the big leagues.

I wonder why nobody thinks Washington wouldn't be contracted since they don't have an owner.

2006-02-11 12:51:47
7.   Daniel Zappala
If I was king, I would contract:

AL: Devil Rays, Royals
NL: Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Nationals

Pittsburgh moves to the east, Houston to the west.

4 teams in each division. Much better baseball because the talent isn't so watered down any more.

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