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Good Friday traditionally is honored by Christians as part of their Easter weekend religious practices to honor the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is where our focus should rest, especially for devout people of faith, Catholic and Protestant.
Sadly, Major League Baseball (MLB) chose to use the afternoon to pay homage to perhaps our newest and fastest-growing religion – woke progressive politics. To wit: under pressure from so-called “Civil Rights” groups and activists, they chose to relocate the 2021 All-Star game and draft scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia to another city, to be named later. My money is our national capital of wokeness, San Francisco.
The reason? Georgia’s new, unfairly maligned election reform law. MLB frankly lied by calling it “restrictive.” It is nothing of the sort, but no matter. The damage is done. It does make you wonder if anyone at the MLB either read or understands the new law, or bothered to consult with anyone who has. I guess they felt sorry for Coca-Cola’s and especially Delta Airlines’ miserable PR faux pas this week and felt misery needed company.
To their credit, the Atlanta Braves, my favorite new team, publicly disagreed with the decision. It is always refreshing to see an organization – anyone – stand up to wokesters.
One might think that baseball would have learned a thing or two from the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, both of which have seen fans and viewers divert their eyes and dollars elsewhere over obvious wokeness if not selling its collective soul to the Communist Chinese.
Let’s go to Newsweek’s March 31 reporting of a Yahoo News/YouGov poll:
As NBA ratings have declined over the current season, a new poll shows that more than 30 percent of Americans say they have watched less sports over political and social justice messaging.
The poll, which was conducted by Yahoo News/YouGov, found 34.5 percent of respondents saying they have watched less sports due to social justice campaigns. According to the poll, 11 percent of people said they have watched more sports as a result of the social justice messaging, and 56.3 percent said they have watched the same amount.
Looking at the different political party affiliations, 19 percent of Democrats said they have watched less sports in light of social justice messaging, while 13.7 percent said they have watched more. In comparison, 53 percent of Republicans said they have watched less sports due to social justice messaging, and just 8.6 percent said they have watched more.
Major League Baseball’s response? Hold my beer.
Relocating the game is no doubt a major economic blow to Atlanta, a city with one of America’s highest concentrations of African Americans (over 50% are black) and people living in poverty (21%). The game was estimated to bring an economic impact of between $37-$190 million to the city and the state.
But the real damage to baseball may not only be financial to its own coffers but something the US Supreme Court granted them, unanimously, on May 22, 1922; exemption from federal antitrust laws, particularly the Sherman Act. What’s the practical effect of that decision? To allow baseball to engage in monopolistic behavior. To wit, courtesy of philsbaseball.com:
Antitrust laws are statutes developed by the U.S. Government to protect consumers from monopolistic business practices and ensure fair competition exists. Or, as the Federal Trade Commission describes it, “These laws promote vigorous competition and protect consumers from anticompetitive mergers and business practices.” (2) These laws were made official by Congress through the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.
Seems that the Supreme Court, in an opinion penned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, was persuaded by an appeals court decision that said MLB games (National and American Leagues) weren’t “interstate commerce” but entirely “local games.” The fact that players traveled across state lines to play professional games didn’t persuade the court. Justice Samuel Alito, himself a huge Phillies fan, gave a detailed speech on the origins of the MLB’s antitrust exemption in 2009.
The law has been challenged a few times over the years, most notably in a 1972 Supreme Court case involving the legendary Curt Flood. The exemption stood, but resulted in the creation of “free agency” for players and changed the game forever. Again, philsbaseball.com:
Baseball’s exemption finally reached the Supreme Court again in 1972 in the case of Flood v. Kuhn. Curt Flood was an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals who was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969. Flood refused to play for the Phillies, instead requesting that he be declared a free agent and allow him to sign with the team of his choice. (3) When the commissioner declined, citing the reserve clause in Flood’s contract, Flood filed suit against MLB.
The Supreme Court let the old decision stand, but also criticized much of their exemption status. Justice Blackmun noted that “baseball is a business and it is engaged in interstate commerce,” a finding counter to the previous ruling. Justice Blackmun also admitted that the baseball exemption was “an exception and an anomaly,” but they were “loath . . . to overturn judicially” a decision which Congress failed to address, so they again left it up to Congress to handle.
Although Flood lost in court, his suit helped enable MLB players to earn the right for free agency. Flood’s case educated players about the “fundamental inequity of the reserve system,” which binded a player to “one club for life, or until that club decided to get rid of the player.” (7) It helped develop, outside of any court rulings, the first-ever collective bargaining agreement in 1968, allowing players the right to arbitration to resolve grievances. In December 1975, the players also won the right to free agency.
Thanks to the MLB ill-advised bending of the knee to woke politics, a lot of members of Congress appear poised to resurrect a debate that may, eventually, threaten the league’s antitrust exemption.
And this from US Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Good for them. It is time. A message needs to be sent to MLB and other professional sports, both by fans and by the government, that we will no longer stand by and patronize or protect these leagues from this kind of needless, even harmful political activity and virtue signaling.
Sports are supposed to unify us, to elevate us from the hum-drum of political and daily toils and tribulations to cheer for and celebrate the best athletes in our favorite sports. For me, I’ll be boycotting all things MLB until they reverse course, and stick with my NHL favorites, the Washington Capitals, and Colorado Avalanche. At least until they go completely woke. Let’s hope they’re willing to pass the test that the MLB clearly failed.Published in