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Baseball Arbitration Competition Brings Heavy Hitters to Tulane

January 23, 2018 3:29 AM

It was a battle of players versus owners last week as Tulane Law hosted the annual International Baseball Arbitration Competition which brought dozens of law school competitors to campus for mock negotiations. The competition, which is run by the Tulane Sports Law Society, simulates a salary arbitration which mirrors closely real-life procedures used by Major League Baseball (MLB).  This year, 40 teams from law schools across the United States and Canada competed before more than a dozen top MLB executives, agents, and sportswriters. “This competition is important, not only as an amazing networking opportunity for all of the students with top executives in the baseball industry, but also as a way to gain real arbitration experience they can bring to their future careers,” said Erika Cheung, co-chair of the competition. Tulane Law alum Alex Winsberg (L’00), director of legal affairs with the Los Angeles Angels (Anaheim), has judged the competition for 10 if its 11 years. The event has evolved greatly since his first year judging, he said, largely in the quality of students and their presentations. “These guys come in prepared, the quality of their arguments, the research they do, is top-notch,” he said. “This has become a go-to thing in baseball. If you’re in this business, you want to participate, to meet students preparing to enter the field. Some people really get upset if they’re not invited to judge.” For students, there’s an effort to do well, and show your mettle. “It is rare that one gets the chance to practice doing what they intend to make a career of, and get feedback from the most accomplished people in the business,” said Cheung, a third-year law student. The list of this year’s judges is a who’s who of those working in major league baseball, representing players or writing about them: Scott Barber - Ballengee Group Craig Calcaterra - Lead Baseball Writer, NBC Sports Greg Dreyfuss - Major League Baseball Players Association Jon Fetterolf - Zuckerman Spaeder LLP Rex Gary - Turner-Gary Sports Vanish Grover - Major League Baseball Marc Kligman - Total Care Sports Management Mike Parnell - Texas Rangers Scott Pearson - Independent Sports & Entertainment, Baseball Division Dave Prouty - Major League Baseball Players Association Jay Reisinger - Farrell & Reisinger, LLC Jen Tedmori - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Alex Winsberg - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim In an article for NBC Sports online, Calcaterra described his experience judging in the competition as “one of the most entertaining and enlightening baseball and legal experiences I’ve had in some time.”

In the end, a two-person team from the University of Virginia Law School (1L Katharine Whisenhunt and 2L Luke Zaro) took top honors in the competition. Both successfully argued in a mock arbitration simulation that Houston Astros pitcher Ken Giles was an elite closer and deserved at least a $4.5 million salary. The second place team was from Pace University, representing Astros’ management. Two other awards, one for best written materials and another for best oral advocacy, went to Rutgers University and Pepperdine University, respectively. “This is one of the cornerstone events of the Tulane Sports Law Program,” said Professor of Law  Gabe Feldman, the program’s director and co-director for the Tulane Center for Sport. “The competition provides students with a unique opportunity to hone their oral and written advocacy skills in the context of a simulated baseball arbitration hearing.” During the three-day event, organizers also sell raffle tickets for autographed baseballs and tickets to MLB games to raise money for the local chapter of the MLB Urban Youth Academy, which gives inner-city youngsters year-round baseball and softball instruction as well as exposure to careers in the industry. “We value our partnership with the MLB Urban Youth Academy. We love going and teaching different topics about the law, and having them here to observe what they were learning,” Cheung said. “Our raffle every year is to benefit the program, and we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with such great kids.“