GOP House and Senate Take a Swing at MLB

April 20, 2021

If the bosses over at Major League Baseball think fans have moved on from their Georgia stunt, they're wrong. It's past time to deal with our pastime, Republicans say. And this week, a group of House and Senate leaders have unveiled a bill that would make the Commissioner Rob Manfred's All-Star move hurt. A lot.

"It's not fair to the game," two-time World Series winner David Wells said, "when you've got one knucklehead who's trying to act like [Joe] Biden." In his mind -- and so many others' -- that "knucklehead, Manfred, has really done Americans a disservice. By turning baseball into the latest political statement, he's made fans choose between a sport that they love and their values. "People watch sports to be entertained," Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) argued, "not to be lectured about politics."

Look, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said. If companies want to undermine the integrity of our election process, then they're asking for "increased scrutiny of their business practices." Major League Baseball has enjoyed a 100-year exemption from anti-trust laws, he pointed out on "Washington Watch." Many people have argued it's unconstitutional. "No other sports league has been shielded [like them]," Duncan said. And if they're going to go pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta in a decision that "reeks of politics," then they need to know that they'll pay for it. "They don't deserve special favors from government."

Under his new House bill, cosponsored by almost 30 Republicans, and the companion Senate bill from Mike Lee (R-Utah), MLB won't be able to keep its special monopoly. That means, Forbes points out, the league probably wouldn't be able to keep its contract with minor league teams; it would have difficulty with trademark rights for manufacturing; the gambling industry wouldn't be able to centralize certain statistics; there would be lawsuits from competitors and fights over things like salary caps and team location changes. For Manfred and the owners, it would be a disaster. That's the price, Duncan says, of bowing to the whims of the mob.

"It's wrong," he insisted, "and I think this is backfiring on Major League Baseball... They're not going to go broke over it, but it's definitely going to hurt their bottom line." Already, the Morning Consult says, the league is in major trouble with Republican fans. MLB's net favorability fell through the floor -- cratering 35 points almost overnight. Only 12 percent of conservatives have a positive opinion of the league after Georgia. "I think ultimately they're going to hear from the fans who wanted to come to Atlanta and experience a great night of baseball in the south, who may not go to Denver, who may boycott Major League Baseball in general. That's where the pressure is going to come from."

In the meantime, this is a shot across the bow. If Manfred is going to dabble in leftist politics, then baseball needs to be treated like every other business. "No more special treatment," Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) argued. "No more No more corporate welfare." No more sweetheart deals. "Americans are tired of being lectured by corporate hacks who don't share our values."

And if Republicans retake the House and/or Senate in 2022, then it's fair to say: the league -- and every other business -- has been warned. Americans "will soon stop tolerating your lies, your attempts to denigrate them, and your attempts to control the way they think, act, and talk," Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) insisted. "Let me give you woke corporate leaders a heads-up: Everybody can see the game you are playing. Everybody can see your lies. You are the naked emperor. So, cancel as many people as you can right now. Make as much money off of slave labor in Communist China as you can now. Keep telling your customers how racist and sexist and unsophisticated they are. The backlash is coming."