Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The most important fantasy baseball news ever

In what seems like several hundred Oliver Perez implosions ago, I wrote about the legal hurdles facing baseball. It seems that MLB, after years of granting fairly affordable licenses to purveyors of fantasy products, finally decided to exert more control over the publicly available statistics generated by its players during games. A lawsuit, of course, commenced. Surprising the entire sports industry, MLB lost at the trial and appellate level.

Well, MLB decided to appeal and were denied an "en banc" hearing (of all appellate justices) a few months ago. The only avenue left was the U.S. Supreme Court. This morning, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case. Ding dong, the witch is dead. This is a disastrous ruling for every major professional sports franchise. We are talking tens of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Now, instead of being able to dictate terms, prices, and ultimately force us to accept fewer choices that cost more, professional sports has lost any semblance of control over fantasy products (so long as they refrain from using team logos, names, mascots, colors, etc.).

Baseball, and the NFL, were so confident of victory that even after MLB lost at the trial level that they continued to send "cease and desist" letters to fantasy sites. Well, so much for that. Their unbridled hubris has left them in a far worse position than if they had just left well enough alone.


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