Play Ball!

The Yankees, Rangers, Phillies, and Giants will soon face off in the League Championship Series to determine which team will be the 2010 World Series Champions. It is timely to review items in the Brooklyn Law School Library collection on the subject of baseball. The most recent acquisition, Smart Ball: Marketing the Myth and Managing the Reality of Major League Baseball by Robert F. Lewis, II (Call #GV880 .L55 2010) examines the business of baseball, tracing the history of our national pastime from its pastoral roots as a sport and domestic cottage industry to its position as an economic giant with protected legal status. It also explores the challenges posed by unionization, racial diversity, the steroid scandal, and the international marketing of the business. The chapter on the development of the baseball monopoly is worth reading.

The author, a Cleveland Indians fan, traces his interest in baseball to the 1948 World Series contest when the Indians defeated the New York Yankees and won its last World Series title. But the 176 page book is not about baseball’s heroes, their statistics, or the strategies of team managers. Instead, Smart Ball looks at the business side of the game. Chapters, following the four bases that are part of the game, are titled: First Base – Baseball as a Sport: Creating Power; Second Base – Baseball as a Domestic Monopoly: Developing Power; Third Base – Baseball as a Neocolonialist Abusing Power; and Home Plate – Baseball as a Global Business: Balancing Power. This book is not for the casual baseball fan but is for those interested in understanding the business of baseball.

Another item in the BLS Library collection is The Little White Book of Baseball Law by John H. Minan and Kevin Cole (Call # KF3989 .M563 2009). The 226 page book looks at legal disputes from baseball history with an examination of some of the more arcane rules in baseball. The chapters use baseball’s inning structure offering eighteen innings (a double-header as stated in the preface) of legal disputes resolved by the courts. They include cases on ticket scalping, Lainer v. City of Boston, 95 F.Supp.2d 17 (2000), beanball pitches (Avila v. Citrus Community College District, 41 Cal. Rptr. 3d 399 (2006), and Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972). The authors use an “Umpire’s Ruling” segment after each chapter explaining a legal issue of the game. There is even an explanation of the “infield fly rule”. This book will appeal to both lawyers and sports fans with its short-story format and references to movies, songs, history, and other trivia.

As for the upcoming World Series, may the best team (the Yankees?) win.