Sonia Sotomayor, announced as President Obama's choice to succeed the retiring David Souter on the Supreme Court, has been involved in two huge sports cases over the years.
In one, during the baseball strike of 1994-95, she ruled in favor of the players over the owners, effectively ending the owners' ability to impose a tough contract on the players and start the season with scab replacement players in an effort to force them to agree. The ruling pointed out, in painstaking detail, the serial ineptitude of commissioner Bud Selig and his lieutenants as they presided over this mess. It was Selig's worst moment as commissioner and there wasn't a close second.
A decade later, Sotomayor ruled for a league over a player when, as an appeals court judge, she wrote the ruling that overturned a lower court decision that would have allowed Maurice Clarett to enter the NFL draft despite the age restriction that the union had collectively bargained.
The similarity in both cases, it seems, is a respect for the collective-bargaining process and the place of unions in the corporate world. In the baseball case, Sotomayor backed the National Labor Relations Board and slammed baseball for unfair labor practices. In the NFL case, she (and the justices who supported her position on the appeals court) supported the notion that labor law should trump anti-trust law in the Clarett case, and the idea that a union had the right to collectively bargain such an age restriction with an employer.
In other sporting news, Sotomayor apparently is a Yankees fan. Now that Jimmy Rollins has sort of predicted a Yankees-Phillies World Series, it would make for nothing if not an interesting opportunity for a wager if Sotomayor and Justice Samuel Alito -- an avowed Phillies fan -- would serve on the court together.
Loser wears the other team's cap during oral arguments one day. What do you say?