Erin Brockovich II: Revenge of the Lifer

>> Wednesday

Rick Reilly has a notion:

I think minor league players like [Mitch] Jones should file a class action, restraint of trade lawsuit against Major League Baseball because they sat stewing in the minors while big leaguers were allowed to cheat.

On top of the small problem that this suggestion is completely insane, I have to quickly take exception with the two players he highlights in the column to make his point.

Mitch Jones, as Reilly points out, hit 39 HR in AA in 2004. Of course, that was a career year, and even then, his .880 OPS isn't eye-popping for a guy who plays 1B and corner outfield in a Yankees organization that employs an All-Star team.

Shawn Garrett did have a fine 2004 season playing in both AA and AAA, where he put up that .371 average Reilly cites (mind you, that was in 116 ABs in the notoriously cozy-ballparked Pacific Coast League). Other than that season, he never had an OPS over .805 higher than A ball, and again--that's not so spectacular when you play 1B and corner outfield.

That is to say, nothing on paper suggests that either of these guys would have scored huge MLB paydays. Maybe they did deserve more of a shot, but that's a far, far cry from saying they can claim other guys' juicing as the primary reason for their lack of opportunity.

Then Reilly goes here:
Stanford labor law professor emeritus William Gould IV says the idea "is very interesting" but that they'd need to prove three things to win:
1) A correlation between steroid use and better performance. (Please.)

What's hilarious is--as many of you may well know--the first web page that comes up on a Google search for "steroids+baseball" is this site that makes a pretty convincing case that the effect of steroids on performance is vastly overblown, if not illusory.

2) That baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use... [a bunch of stuff from the Mitchell Report]

Pretty fair claim.

3) "Nonstatutory labor exemption considerations," Gould IV says. That's just so complicated it makes our head ache, but a good shark would gobble it right up.

Mike, I'll let you handle that, but... I'm thinking that it's at least not something Reilly should gloss over. I don't know or care to know much about such things, but I do know that pro sports leagues have a lot of funky rules and structures that make them way different in terms of labor laws than pretty much any other industry.

If I felt like being obnoxious, I could make this post longer and slip in a bunch of stupid jokes, but I promised myself 20 minutes max on this one. I'm currently at 23. If I were one of those guys that defuses bombs instead of a blogger, I'd be dead.


Matt 2:35 PM  

I've got a better notion. Someone should get some guns...and clean up those...ghettos.

Vinnie 11:35 PM  

Hahaha... I only hope we get at least get one reader who doesn't know that reference and believes that to be your actual opinion. Aw, wait, I just blew it.

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