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Baseball arbitration competition is a big hit

February 26, 2014

Alex Winsberg (L ’00) of the Los Angeles Angels and Zack Rosenthal of the Colorado Rockies judge the finals of Tulane Law School’s 7th Annual National Baseball Arbitration Competition.

Alex Winsberg (L ’00) of the Los Angeles Angels and Zack Rosenthal of the Colorado Rockies judge the finals of Tulane Law School’s 7th Annual National Baseball Arbitration Competition.

Once both sides had made their pitches, would the trio of arbitrators decide the Kansas City Royals had prevailed, or that first baseman Eric Hosmer had justified the $4 million salary he was seeking?

The judges — including Alex Winsberg (L ’00), director of legal affairs for the Los Angeles Angels — called it for the Royals, giving the win at Tulane Law School’s 7th Annual National Baseball Arbitration Competition to Emory Law School’s Greg McMillin and Matt Wilson.

The January competition, organized and run by students in the Tulane Sports Law Society, attracted teams from 36 law schools to New Orleans for two days of simulated salary arbitration hearings before Major League Baseball executives, lawyers, agents and other industry representatives — plus networking with baseball professionals.

“It’s a nice experience to interact with the kids,” said Winsberg, who joined the Angels in 2013.

“It’s amazing how much work they put in,” he said. “It forces them to do the same kinds of things they would do in moot court, with information they would find interesting.”

Winsberg graduated from Tulane with a certificate in maritime law, which he practiced before joining a California law firm where he did transactional and litigation work for California wineries. “For a law school competition, it doesn’t get much better than this,” McMillin and Wilson both said — even before learning they had advanced to the semis.

The field of judges included Las Vegas-based baseball agent Marc Kligman (L ’95), who left a criminal defense practice in 1998 to found Total Care Sports Management.

“Salary arbitration is a very unique and often misunderstood process,” said attorney Jon Fetterolf, a former William & Connolly colleague of Tulane Law Professor Gabe Feldman, founder of the event. “It’s interesting to see the way people look at some of the cases.”

Fetterolf, a judge since the competition’s inception, has represented players and helped win an arbitration dispute for Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Ohlendorf in 2011, when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

John D’Angelo, who works in the MLB commissioner’s office as manager of salary & contract administration, said that because law students aren’t immersed in pay negotiations, they can come up with fresh ideas. He said the judging experience “helps me think about being clear and concise with my arguments.”

Colorado Rockies Assistant General Counsel Zack Rosenthal, who helped judge the finals, said that the attraction was baseball but that competitors were “learning a skill they can apply no matter what they’re doing.”

The Emory pair narrowly beat Tulane’s team of Jesse Stratos, Tarryn Walsh and Lamar Weeks in the quarterfinal round before guest arbitrator Jay Reisinger, a Pittsburgh attorney who has represented Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte and advised former Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa.

Tulane was the first U.S. law school to offer a certificate of specialization in sports law. The Sports Law program, now 21 years old, is the leader in the field and prepares students to deal with challenging legal and business issues confronting an increasingly complex industry.


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