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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Maple Bats and Antitrust Law

Professor Christopher Robinette of Widener University School of Law and TortsProf Blog passes along a provocative student note written by Steve Matzura, who will be graduating from Widener Law next May. Matzura's note, which is being published by the Widener Law Journal, is titled, "Will Maple Bats Splinter Baseball's Antitrust Exemptions?: The Rule of Reason Steps to the Plate."

Here's an excerpt:

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Maple baseball bats have become extremely popular among players throughout Major League Baseball (MLB). But maple bats continue to be a safety hazard because they break, injuring players, fans, and umpires. This comment explains the antitrust implications of an MLB rule that may restrict or qualify the use of maple bats to address the recent safety concerns. Any such restriction of the popular sports equipment may cause bat manufacturers, and perhaps players, to initiate an antitrust suit against MLB for an unfair restraint of trade. The comment’s analysis contemplates two judicially-created antitrust exemptions – the baseball exemption and the nonstatutory labor exemption – that almost entirely absolve MLB of liability for instituting a league rule even if the rule affects economic competition. The comment proposes that courts can interpret the exemptions narrowly to render them inapplicable, thereby reaching the merits to conduct a "rule of reason" analysis. The comment concludes that, even if a court finds the two antitrust exemptions inapplicable, the rule of reason and judicial deference to sports leagues will allow MLB to freely promulgate an equipment restriction instituted primarily for safety reasons–regardless of the effect on economic competition.

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To download the note from SSRN, click here.


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