Do Supreme Court robes come in pinstripes?
As you've no doubt heard by now, Sonia Sotomayor — President Obama's new pick for the country's top court — grew up in a Bronx housing project just three miles from Yankee Stadium. She has admitted to attending an occasional game at the House That Ruth Built, but her importance to baseball actually runs deeper than most federal judges.
As a federal district judge in New York, she was credited with helping to save the sport from its crippling strike, issuing a 1995 injunction that sided with the players on their labor rights and restored the terms of the old collective bargaining agreement.
Sotomayor also ordered the two sides back to the negotiating table, which resulted in a new CBA that was finally approved in 1996.
From April 1, 1995 editions of the NY Times:
"Ruling from the bench, Sotomayor chided baseball owners, saying they had no right to unilaterally eliminate the 20-year-old system of free agents and salary arbitration while bargaining continues. With those provisions reinstated, striking players have promised to play ball this season under the terms of the previous contract while the two sides try to hammer out a new deal.
"'This strike has placed the entire concept of collective bargaining on trial,' the judge said."
There's little doubt that Sotomayor is in for a hard fight before she's approved for SCOTUS, but she already has some supporters in the baseball blogosphere.
At least one blogger — Craig Calcaterra of Shyster Ball — already supports the nomination, "not because it indicates how she would approach labor issues, but because by ruling as she did, she made it possible for the Braves to win the World Series that year."
(Meanwhile, I'm guessing Jerry Reinsdorf and his conspiring crew of owners from the strike era will have just a little different view of Sotomayor's approval process.)