Oregon Law Review : Vol. 89, No. 2, p.581-622 : Truly Sovereign at Last: C.B.C. Distribution v. MLB AM and the Redefinition of the Concept of Baseball
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As this Article discusses, post–World War II societal changes, some directly impacting baseball and others with an indirect, but no less forceful, impact, have led to a societal and, therefore, judicial, separation of the traditional connection between Major League Baseball and the larger, more symbolic, concept of “baseball,” all of which led up to the C.B.C. Distribution decisions that sought to protect the game but no longer entrusted Major League Baseball with this role. The rise of the Players Association, the diminishing status of club owners as a result of the corporate revolution of the sixties, and the public demonization of both that occurred as a result of nearly four decades of labor unrest (including, most notably, the cancellation of the 1994 World Series) will all be discussed to show that, although the symbolic pull of the concept of baseball may still be as strong as ever, the power of Major League Baseball as a cultural force is clearly on the wane. As a result, although federal courts are just as likely now as they ever were to alter the legal rules of the game to protect baseball, the C.B.C. Distribution decisions perhaps signal a shift in judicial deference toward Major League Baseball, as opposed to the game itself. From now on, perhaps the federal judiciary will be more likely to rule as the C.B.C. Distribution courts did and to recognize that the sovereign nation of baseball is truly sovereign, not even answerable to Major League Baseball itself. For decades, such a conclusion would have been unthinkable. Now, perhaps, it has finally become a reality.