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Sunday, January 06, 2021

legal juice
One of the odder tangents to emerge from the Mitchell Report: An ex-minor league pitcher is mulling a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball on behalf of all the farmhands who didn’t get a shot at the big show thanks to juiced-up work culture:

“If everybody was playing on the same level playing field, Rich would say, ‘OK, you beat me,’” says Hartmann’s attorney Michael Salomon. “But this is not right.”

Hartmann says several former teammates have agreed to join the lawsuit if it is filed, and Salomon says he is exploring legal theories that would serve as the basis of a lawsuit. But mostly, Hartmann says, he’s looking for a platform to point out that the biggest losers of baseball’s steroid era weren’t the fans, they were minor leaguers who were cheated of their dreams because a rival for a major-league job got a boost from steroids.

Hartmann never made it higher than the Class A Florida State League — in other words, the bottom rung of MLB’s developmental system. With a fastball clocking in at sub-90MPH, it’s a stretch to think he would ever have gotten within sniffing distance of a major-league roster, even accounting for the expansion and pitching dearth of the 1990s.

But even moving beyond Hartmann personally and considering the body of minor-leaguers who theoretically were competing against players with an unfair advantage, it’s still a tough sell. Career advancement in pro athletics comes down to meritocracy and timing: Not only do you have to perform at a top level, but you have to count on whoever’s above you to falter so you can take over his slot. A lawsuit here has to prove that performance enhancement drugs would have either opened up that slot (by MLB vigorously enforcing a ban) or given a minor-leaguer a better shot at moving up (by forcing the prospect to risk his health). Too many variables to conclusively prove that either scenario would have shaken up major league rosters.

That’s not to say that there’s no merit in a suit. A strategy of depicting a “steroid ceiling” that kept “honest” players like Hartmann from at least a fair shot at advancement would deserve a long legal look, as would the idea of Major League Baseball fostering a dangerous work environment that rewarded taking steroid-related health risks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/06/2021 07:31:39 PM
Category: Baseball, True Crime
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