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Department of Justice opens investigation into PGA over anti-trust & LIV Golf

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
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July 12, 2022 3:20 pm

Department of Justice opens investigation into PGA over anti-trust & LIV Golf

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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July 12, 2022 3:20 pm

The United State Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the PGA over anti-trust & LIV Golf players who have been suspended by the PGA Tour for joining the LIV Tour series. Attorney Marc Edelman joined the show to discuss how the Anti-trust matter could shake out, and cites other cases in sports where this has taken place.

Also, Elliot Johnson, former Major League Baseball player, stopped by the show to discuss the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves as the two tops teams in the National East go head-to-head.

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At Truist in Atlanta, actually it's north of Atlanta, it's Cobb County. The New York Mets took Game 1 of the Big 3 Game Series from the Atlanta Braves. Max Scherzer dealt 7 innings, 9 strikeouts, 3 hits, and the Mets got a couple of runs batted in for Pete Alonso, who's in the home run derby again. Louis Guillaume with a run scoring groundout and a solo home run in the 8th. And Edwin Diaz was lights out in the 9th. And the Mets opened up now a 2.5 game lead over Atlanta. Pete Johnson, a former Brave, one of the legends of Durham Bulls baseball, joins us to talk about this series and maybe a couple of other things. Can I just say that, like a lot of other things have gotten in my way, it was really cool to sit down and watch a really well played baseball game last night.

It moved fast until the very end. Well, I mean, so first of all, Stone Temple Pilots to start the segment, well done. Second, you know, Scherzer, so it's interesting about watching him continue to be at the top of his game. Developing a cutter, which is kind of equalized lefties to a degree because, I mean, he was just messing with Olsen all night. I think he gets him with a change up and then he comes back next day and throws cutter in.

I mean, you can't cover everything and you have to pick one thing. So, specifically speaking, most of the guys are going to pick the fastball, but that's not always what you're going to get. And then I think he ended up getting, I think the biggest pitch was to Rosario. I think he finished him with a slider underneath the strike zone or cutter, cutter underneath the zone with two guys on. And I think that ended up being the biggest pitch of the night. Right, that was to get them out of the seventh inning and Scherzer was pumped up. Why the Fox broadcast was even speculating that he was coming out for the eighth, maybe because it's Max Scherzer.

But when everybody in the dugout is congratulating you after that inning, it's pretty much a done deal. He went as far as Buck Showalter was going to allow him to go. But look, I thought Max Freed was great. I was talking earlier off the air about Dontrelle Willis as an analyst. I think Dontrelle does a pretty good job. He got out a little bit over his skis with putting Max Freed potentially in the Hall of Fame down the road. But I thought Freed was good too. Well, Freed, he just needs to stay healthy. You know, the guy still looks like he weighs 160 pounds. So hopefully he can stay healthy because he, you know, short of going that far that he's already in the hall.

I'm not going to go that far. He's got a long ways to go there, right? He's 29 wins and he's 28 years old. He's on his path, right? I mean, it's a new era, you know, I mean, of not just Tom Glavin, Smolti and Maddox, you know what I mean? It's a new era of baseball. And if anybody's going to do it, he's probably on track to be that guy.

But, you know, I mean, I guess that's what everybody, you know, everybody kind of wants to pontificate these different things. And he's certainly deserving of all the praise in the world to this point. We're just maybe just getting a little ahead of ourselves there.

No disrespect to D train. He was a great pitcher and hitter in his time, but we're probably getting out a little early there. There's no question. He also called Turner Field historic, which, I mean, they did have some Olympic events there. So I'll just kind of leave it right there.

Elliot Johnson is joining us here on the Adam Gold Show. It's hard to say which teams are the best. We all think the Yankees are the best team in baseball. And by the way, Red Sox winning come from behind wins on Saturday and Sunday to get out of that series even was quite a feat. Where do the Mets and Braves stack?

Because I don't think there's a ton difference between the two, except the Mets might have higher end, not might, they have higher end starting pitching at the top of their rotation. They're pretty, they're looking neck and neck and then watch out for the Phillies. They're playing good base recently, too.

So, I mean, you know, it's interesting. I'm glad that the Red Sox can knock the Yankees down a few pegs. Trevor story coming up big with the bases loaded.

You know, I think the Mets I, you know, the Braves are great and they played great baseball. The Mets are getting healthy, though, and that's what's scary. You know, Lindor hasn't played great.

I think he's hitting 240, but he had a three for five night last night, which is great. They need to get him going quickly. I think tonight, Spencer Strider, he's probably I think the Braves probably have a better chance of winning today.

It's hard for anybody to get to him. He's got an elite fastball and it really, really rides on everyone. So the Braves are probably going to win today and then we'll see who ends up with the rubber match, but they're pretty evenly balanced. The Braves have a great lineup. I just, I think that if you're going into a series, though, and you have to face Scherzer and then a healthy deGrom, good luck, right?

That's that's a one-two punch. That kind of reminds me of Randy Johnson, Kirk Schilling back in 2001. And on top of that, Tawon Walker for the Mets is a guy that he might end up on the All-Star team only because so many guys pull out of the All-Star game, which is fine. So they've got depth in the starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco can give them innings. They've got a lot of depth in their rotation. They miss Scherzer for seven weeks. Jacob deGrom has not yet thrown a pitch this year. Mets lineup has not been great. The one thing I would say about Lindor is that in spite of the fact that he's only hitting 240, he's got more than 60 runs batted in. Well, guys are getting on base, you know, Nemo's back. Yeah, Nemo's good.

Gourmet, I'm surprised. I'm really impressed with his production. He's an interesting guy because he come out of nowhere and watching him trot last night. He's not the most athletic guy in the world, but you don't need to be if you can hit like that.

No, no, it's interesting. They're scraping the barrel in some ways and then they've got their horses at the top. So it's again, it's amazing what a new owners ownership can do because they're obviously formidable and they're not just going to be good this year.

They're gonna be good next year, too. Yeah, I think a lot of that is Buck Showalter and hiring him was just the first credible smart thing they had done in that department in a while. Nemo, you know, there was a little subtle thing last night that I thought was key and I've always thought that base running was an underrated part of the game that people didn't pay enough attention to it. And I've seen enough bad base running costs, especially the Mets is my focus cost them runs and I don't have to go any further than go to Timo Perez in the first inning wasn't the first. I mean the eighth inning of game one of the World Series against the Yankees where he should have scored on a ball off the top of the wall, but he waited to see if it was going to be caught. There wasn't a human being alive that was getting to that ball and he ultimately gets thrown out at the plate. So the Mets, you know, get they cost them a run Nemo goes first to third on a kind of a flare into shallow.

I think it was left center that a lot of guys would have held up on but he knew right away. It was going to drop so he makes first to third easily and ultimately comes across on the Peter Lonzo ground ball. It's about being a good teammate right there because it isn't it's wonderful when you come to the dish and you don't have to get a hit to drive in a guy. Yeah, if RBI so bringing up Lindor with with driving guys in guys that are it's funny how that works out Adam and great observation by you because you get a guy on third with less than to look at Lindor is RBI total to reference your earlier statement.

It probably is a reflection of the guys always pushing the envelope to get the third with less than two. So it makes for more easy opportunities to get RBI even when you're hitting 240 Adam Gold here from my man coach Pete DeRuda with the Capital Financial Advisory Group. We are talking retirement.

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And so the game here is we know the rules a lot of people want to ignore the rules or act like they don't are familiar with them. But the IRS knows the rules and so we get to retirement. They're going to reach in and start taking some of their money out of your accounts. So the secret here is to put a force field around as much as possible by strategically moving some of our money to Roth IRA or some of the other vehicles that aren't taxed like special life insurance policies.

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All you got is call or you can text Adam to 21000 for coach Pete DeRuta. By the way, your statement about about the Braves. I think the Braves are excellent. So and I'm not the I'm the rare Met fan who doesn't hate the Braves. It's just never been like I want to beat the Braves and it's been frustrating, especially, you know, during the Chipper Jones era where they couldn't get over on Atlanta, but I've never hated the Braves.

I know I'm not crazy about their broadcast, but that's another story all together. But I think both teams are really, really good. And I think it's really good for baseball when you have the Mets and the Braves kind of battling it at the top of that division. Real quick about the All-Star game and all of that and home run Derby. Are you more of a home run Derby guy or has the as because to me the All-Star game is kind of lost a little bit, but I love home run Derby, even though it's the same over and over again. I mean, I'm a huge home run Derby guy. I mean, one of my first memories with Ken Griffey Jr. Backwards hat in Camden. I mean, if that doesn't make you a baseball fan, I don't know what does and then like they first unveiled the slow-mo camera in Safeco.

I think 2001 maybe right? Giambi Giambi going Safeco over and over again with that slow-mo camera, which is fascinating to watch him torque that bat, you know, so I mean and then really one of the more memorable ones was Josh Hamilton. In Yankee Stadium who went ballistic and then end up losing to if you can if you can drop who won this you're going to get tons of street cred here out of Justin Morneau. Boom right on the money. Well done. How about a tough one?

Nobody really gets out? I can't honestly I can't believe I did I didn't know you were going to ask me that I really just pulled it out of thin air. Nice Big Mac Big Mac at the in Boston hitting balls, you know close to the sitco sign Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas in Turner Field. I mean like these were my favorites, you know back when I was a kid and then, you know getting to play with some of these guys when they do it ultimately they just say I don't want to embarrass myself and I remember Bobby Abreu you having a great one. I think in Philly yet when he broke his bat not not broke it but like he wore it out to the point where it started breaking down.

He had to get a new one. So the home run Derby is the event pitchers in the all-star game take it very very seriously. And I respect that the not that the position guys don't I think their expectations of what they're going to get out of it are different because not all of them are going to play the whole game and they might get one at bat, right? So it's really hard to hit 1,000 against the best of the best. So I think it's a little bit different.

It's why you really don't see a whole lot of high scoring affairs because you know, generally speaking like my dad always used to say the same. So it's a feast off for pitching and there is no poor pitching in the all-star none zero poor pitching my favorite. I have two great memories of all-star games Dwight Gooden following Fernando Valenzuela think it was in San Francisco Gooden's was it? I think it was his rookie year in 1984 Valenzuela was great. And then good and just came in and through absolute gas and as a kid, my favorite player was Lee Mazzilli of the Mets and Mazzilli in Seattle hit a game tying home run off of Jim Kern and then walked with the bases loaded to force in the winning run in the ninth inning and didn't get the MVP. Oh, man, how is it possible that you can Homer for the tying run and get the RBI that drove in the winning run and not be the MVP and that's because Dave Parker threw out two runners at home plate in that all-star game.

That's fun. My memories of all-star games. Elliott Johnson, you're the best.

I appreciate your time. A friend was you like you like the Braves tonight and who knows? I don't even know who's pitching tomorrow. I just know it's not Jacob Jacob deGrom.

I might be Carlos Carrasco tomorrow. I don't know. I haven't checked that far in advance, but we'll check back.

I'm sure it's I'm looking forward to the rubber mats. But of course, they got to take care of business tonight. No question. All right, sir.

We'll talk to you very soon. Thanks Adam. You got it Elliott Johnson.

Thank him. We just geeked out on the all-star home run Derby. Pete Alonso is a two-time defending champion of the home run Derby and he's in it.

You know, who else is in it? Who Albert Pujols? That's nice little go.

I got go home tour type thing. We criticize Major League Baseball for a lot of things and they're almost all justified. Major League Baseball this year has started a policy where they're basically going to have like old guys who are on their way out. But stars on the all-star team Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are both on the all-star team makes sense to guys who are flat going into the Hall of Fame. It shouldn't even have to wait for it five years. And yeah, that is that is a very cool thing.

But Pujols is going to be in home run Derby as is Ronald Acuna Jr. By the way, looking forward to to all of that next week. June 19th, 2006, but it all started May 6, 1997 with the announcement that the Hartford Whalers were coming to North Carolina. It's a story of transition of heartbreak of figuring it out on the fly. The Canes Corner look at the 25th anniversary of the move presented by the Aluminum Company of North Carolina. Listen now.

Find Canes 25th anniversary wherever you get your podcast. I watched the Tiger Woods press conference this morning from the old course St. Andrews home of golf because you have to say home of golf. Otherwise, not official. And he was asked obviously questions about Liv and he had some thoughts about Liv.

There were no questions because Tiger wouldn't be able to answer these about the Department of Justice's investigation into whether or not the PGA Tour has run afoul of antitrust laws. So I thought, man, we need to find somebody who really understands this because I don't. I'm a dopey radio host, but we do. Mark Edelman, who is a professor, an attorney, sports ethics director, and also writes on any trust sports and gaming. And he joins us on the Adam Gold show. Not the first time he has been on this program.

I appreciate your time, counselor. So let's get right to it, because the Department of Justice is launching an investigation. They've already contacted players. What are we what kind of an antitrust violation are we possibly talking about here?

That's a great question. If you look at the PGA Tour, the PGA Tour is not is probably not a single entity. But rather, it's composed of several separate tournaments, which in many ways could be likened to, say, the NFL, which is also not a single entity, but composed of 32 separate teams. If you accept the idea that each of these tournaments is its own entity and one could reasonably argue one way or the other. But if you accept that idea, then when the individual tournaments of the PGA Tour get together and they put in place a rule that says any golfer that competes in a rival set of tournaments would be boycotted or preventing from competing in their tournament. One can make an argument that it's multiple actors coming together to boycott a competitor, boycott a party that works with a competitor or a competitive entity. And that gives rise to challenges under Section one of the Sherman Act, which, without getting overly technical, states that any contract combination of conspiracy amongst multiple parties and restraints of trade, if unreasonable, would be illegal. Is there an argument, though, and I would make this argument, that the tournaments, while sort of separate, are all under one umbrella and that the tour negotiates television packages and contracts and the tournaments all operate under the schedule of the PGA Tour?

So it isn't one in, you know, however many 42 separate events, but really one event with like a like a concert series. Well, Adam, that's a great counterpoint. Maybe after your days of being on the news, you can come over and go the legal route with us. That certainly is an argument that you will see if this case were to move forward. The PGA Tour members would attempt to use. In fact, the NFL had many times tried to make the same argument that their teams have a collective television deal and thus should be exempt from antitrust. And that issue was so hotly contested that it made its way all the way up to the US Supreme Court, which ultimately said that in the context of a professional sports league like the NFL, you do not have a single entity, but you have 32 separate teams because they have their own center of decision making and their interests are not perfectly aligned. Now, interestingly, and I love the fact that you brought up the joint broadcasting. Interestingly, the reason why today we are able to see NFL games on a joint broadcasting deal on television and the same in the other professional sports leagues is something known as the Sports Broadcast Act, which is a particular exemption from antitrust to allow for that. So I don't think the combined broadcast rights would carry the debt. The best thing that the different tournaments in the PGA Tour would be able to argue with this particular respect would be somehow they're not the same as a professional sports league like the NFL, but somehow there's greater integration between the tournaments than one another. Some form of equally shared revenues where one's interest would not be disparate for another. So whereas the Giants and the Jets technically compete to sell tickets with one another and the owners of the Giants make more money if you buy Giants tickets than Jets, if somehow the PGA Tour were able to show that there is only one center of decision making and their financial interests are fully aligned with one another, then it becomes a more interesting question under the law.

Mark Edelman is joining us here. He is an attorney and has an expertise in antitrust and the Department of Justice is investigating whether or not the PGA Tour is in violation in that regard based on their banishment of live tour players. The PGA Tour essentially, it's not a union, it's an association and they like to say that the players are the tour and there are 225 or so members of the PGA Tour, the top level of the tour. Now the PGA Tour is not banning those other players who left to go to the live tour. They're not banning them from participating on the live tour, so they're not preventing them from essentially earning a living even in the United States. Why can't the PGA Tour enforce their own rules? Well, the question is whether these rules are anti-competitive. In the short term, there's an alternate place for these workers to go, but what they really seem to be attempting to do is create a chilling effect to dissuade golfers from being willing to go to the live tour. And while it has not been that successful so far, if you think about it from the standpoint of a young golfer who's just breaking in, the threat that if they play in this other tour, they could never at least in theory come back and play in the PGA would incentivize someone that might go and play for what would be the competition from never doing that so in the first place.

And that probably would be seen as overly restrictive. Now, I know people here want to talk about golf and I know I keep on coming back and talk about football, but it's the closest analog we have. And the case I want to come back to is a different case involving the NFL that went all the way to the Supreme Court and involved a football player turned coach by the name of William Radovich. Now, nowadays, our four premier professional sports leagues don't really have any U.S. competition. But at several points in time in the past, there have been startup leagues that have formed, either in the United States or elsewhere, that have attempted to compete against the premier professional league. And one thing that the NFL did back in the late 40s, early 50s, was they passed a rule that said if a football player were to go and play in a new startup league, well, then they could never come back and play for any NFL team. And all of the NFL teams agreed to this. Now, the reasonable ramifications for most players is instead of choosing between an NFL team and a rival startup team, there would be a lot of fear about going to the rival startup team because that league might not exist in a couple of years and they would never have the NFL opportunities.

That was hurting them in the first instance. Radovich had gone to a rival league and then when the NFL teams refused to hire him as a player or coach, he sued the NFL teams, arguing that each of the individual NFL teams was separate actors and that any given team could make the decision not to hire him for any reason but not an illegal reason. So any team could say, the New York Giants could have a rule that says we are not going to hire players that played in the rival league. But when each of the teams came together and combined reached the same agreement, that amount is where restraints of trade in the labor market in violation of section one of the Sherman Act.

In this case, Radovich went all the way to the Supreme Court and he won, overturning the collective ban. So if we bring this back to golf, if you take a single PGA tournament, you can take something like Pebble Beach. And if Pebble Beach wants to have a rule that says for their tournament, we are not going to have any golfers out there that competed and lived in the past three years.

That probably would be okay under section one of the Sherman Act. It's about collusion that would completely be okay. Now the problem comes in when you don't have the individual tours making decisions on their own. But when each of the tournaments on the tour agree to the same rule, the same restraint, now you have collective behavior and collective behavior, which in essence is meant to exclude the new tours from being able to compete in the marketplace. And that's again where the issue lies. Mark Edelman is joining us here as an attorney with an expertise in antitrust.

It almost seems like we're getting to this point. If there's a paper trail or a credible relaying of evidence of a threat that if Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, said to, we'll just say Dustin Johnson, who was the first big name player to go to the live series. If he says to Dustin, if there's an email that said, if you go there, you will never play on the PGA Tour again.

That would be the problem. But if there is no longstanding threat, if it's left vague, then maybe the PGA Tour is not in danger? Well, you know, a conspiracy can be shown under antitrust laws based on the totality of evidence, based on excluding alternative possibilities, based on a growth change of behavior that would not otherwise exist. You know, only in the worst cases will you find that smoking gun documents. In the early days of antitrust law, these smoking gun documents were out there all the time.

I guess in the real beginning of email, they came back when people had not realized that their emails would be available. But a conspiracy could be shown from all the circumstances, even without that. If I can now go to baseball for a second and just make the point, these weren't antitrust cases, but there were three very famous cases in baseball, three consecutive years. They were labor grievances. The owners of the Major League Baseball teams were argued to have colluded against the players, not to sign free agents. And they took place in 85, 86 and 87.

And all three times, the Major League Baseball teams were found liable for having colluded. Well, the first case came in 1985. And in the 1985 case, there was a smoking gun email. I believe it was Lee McPhail, who was a senior executive for one of the Major League Baseball teams, had this document. And the document explicitly said we will not sign each other's free agents. And that created a pretty much open and shut case.

For 86 and 87, there were no such smoking gun documents, but based on the change of behavior, behavior that you wouldn't expect to find otherwise, that would seem to be enough. Now, interestingly, if we come back to the PGA tour for a moment, and we talk about reasonability of a rule, and reasonability is economic reasonability. There are certain components to a rule that might limit you from playing on a rival tour that might be okay. And there might be others like a complete ban that would not. So, for example, if the different PGA tour competitions had a rule that said you are not eligible to compete in a tour if you have competed in another tour in the past seven days.

You know, there might be some reasonable basis as a matter of health to say you can't be in two in seven days. There might be some reasonable basis in terms of marketing the athletes about that. But when you get to a blanket rule that says if you played in this other tournament, you can't compete with no end direction in place. I mean, that seems very much like it's intended to thwart competition. And, you know, leaving aside the question of whether this is something the DOJ should get involved in. From a pure antitrust perspective, there is a real potential for a claim here. I mean, this is not a frivolous claim. This isn't the DOJ playing around with nothing. I mean, reasonable minds could ask the question of should the DOJ be the party to bring this suit? Or should we require a golfer that's not happy by it? Or one of the LIV tours that's not happy about it to bring the action themselves and fund it? But leaving aside those reasonable questions, I mean, the antitrust substance is very real.

And at a minimum, there's a colorable and perhaps a strong case against some of what the PGA is doing. All right. Real, real quick, because we have to go. Mark Edelman, I appreciate your time. You can follow him on Twitter at Mark Edelman. Would if which side would you like to argue? I think I think it would be a lot more fun to argue the side against the PGA.

OK, there is I personally like the point inside, but also to be really frank, there is enough here and what the PGA has said publicly, which does not look very good for them. Mark Edelman, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. And hopefully we can talk again. My pleasure. Have a good one. You too, Mark Edelman.

I appreciate his time. This is the Adam Gold Show. Over the crossbar! And the Hurricanes have won the Stanley Cup! June 19th, 2006. But it all started May 6th, 1997, with the announcement that the Hartford Whalers were coming to North Carolina. It's a story of transition, of heartbreak, of figuring it out on the fly. The Canes Corner look at the 25th anniversary of the move presented by the Aluminum Company of North Carolina. Listen now. Find Canes' 25th anniversary wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-13 08:16:19 / 2023-02-13 08:28:24 / 12

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