Major League Baseball continues its over a century of government-sanctioned fraud, racketeering, suspension of civil rights, and illegal business practices this week by suspending the right to work of one of its players for one year on nothing more than the purchased testimony of a convicted criminal, circumstantial copied evidence of emails and purported receipts handed over by said criminal for the purchase of illegal (by league standards, not the nation’s) performance-enhancing substances. If this tried-and-true lynch-worthy witch hunt mastery of correlation equals causation ever happened anywhere else in this country we would be sickened, frightened, and outraged. But in the somehow eerie bubble of sport, it is seen as a triumphant moral imperative.
And this is why Major League Baseball must be shut down and re-examined as a legitimate business under the laws of the United States as such and not as it was deemed in a queer 1922 Supreme Court ruling as merely a Game. Therefore, in one of the most egregious loopholes in the sordid history of American law, MLB has enjoyed exemption from the anti-trust laws that govern the anti-capitalist practices of monopoly. Among other organized crime-like shenanigans, MLB merrily used this nonsense to keep the game all-white until Jackie Robinson’s heroic barrier-breaking season of 1947, which, for some reason baseball is given a social medal for doing so—you know, for allowing American citizens, who had the talent and comportment to earn a living alongside other American citizens.
MLB also used this boondoggle to treat its employees and its product (let’s face it, no one ever goes to a ballpark to watch owners, nor do they rush to box seats and wave down vendors for hot dogs unless players are there playing the damn game) as if indentured servitude until 1972, when a brave soul named Curt Flood said no to a trade. Before Flood, and later the court cases that won players the right to choose the city and team they wished to play for based on salary and personal comfort, players either ate shit or went back to plowing fields or pumping gas.
Oh, and when salaries and player movement became too much for owners, they colluded to deny players a fair marketplace in the 1980s and were summarily found guilty of this horrendous practice, but were left to police themselves, having that comfy exemption from U.S. law umbrella. It was the same umbrella that kept the U.S. Congress at bay during the last 25 years (the steroid era), overseen with dollar-sign gaiety by MLB’s commissioner, Allan Huber “Bud” Selig, who duly ignored all logical sense of law and business decorum in 1994 by orchestrating the lockout of players and the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in a century to force a league salary cap on the Players Association.
Teams abandoning cities, the civic raping of local jurisdiction to prize cash for massive, unneeded ballparks, outlandish license fees for logos, asinine lapdog television scheduling of games at all hours of the night and for a ridiculous length of time, and willy-nilly “for the good of the game” rulings against players, affecting careers and legacies is business as usual for The Game, which is an over $9 billion venture.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without drugs; as the famous home run chase of 1998 attested, bringing back a fractured fanbase and eroding interest of the game behind the might of the NFL and Michael Jordan’s NBA and capturing the imagination of media and fans everywhere. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were both jacked to the tits on steroids whilst obliterating 50-year records as the money rolled in. And no one seemed to care, least of all Selig, who not-so-quietly celebrated with his bosses, the owners, that their shenanigans of 1994, while it did not crush the union and put a hard cap to save themselves from their salacious selves, it did weaken its resolve and finally led to the later “come-to-Jesus” moment to expunge the evils of PEDs from the Game.
It was a systematic stripping away of players’ rights, to which they sadly agreed, with the random testing for anything under the sun, later becoming an abject mockery of the rights of one Alex Rodriguez, who was thrown out of baseball based not on the agreed and already insane baseball drug policy of a failed test, or even hard, direct evidence of use, but a connect-the-dots, leaking hearsay to the press, fixed arbitration personal assault.
But, as stated, this is all expected of baseball, which has treated players since day one as plow mules. What is most alarming is the paucity of defense or investigative queries from the sporting press. All but three voices out of hundreds, by my count, has even bothered to deconstruct the systemic problems with MLB’s draconian procedures: a New York City radio host, Mike Francesa, a national baseball journalist for MLB Network and Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal, and Deadspin’s brilliant Tim Marchman, who penned a remarkably scathing screed, “Major League Baseball’s War On Drugs Is An Immoral Shitshow” (must read), eviscerating the demented Selig, who hopes to now become the Clean Commissioner before retiring.
Okay, so sportswriters are the lowest form of journalism and this is the toy department of news, and Howard Cosell’s predicted “jockocracy of sports coverage” has come home to roost, but nearly everyone, and I mean everyone, has just dog-piled on Rodriguez as if it is some kind of overdue flogging. It reeks of the press’ weirdly quiet role in McCarthyism and those first months of the Iraq War, with all the flag-pin wearing, giddy imbedded reporter goofiness.
Maybe the worst, besides the NY Daily News, which for months acted as MLB’s print bitch, splashing the most heinous lies as fact and depicting Rodriguez as the bane of humanity, would be whatever is left of “60 Minutes.” This once proud news program, which already paraded a complete fraud as a key witness to the “Crimes of Benghazi,” gave airtime to MLB’s drug dealer witness—a drug dealer who was paid by MLB for information citing Rodriguez, which was the very “crime” the late George Steinbrenner was suspended by The Game.
Hell, even George Zimmerman, a man who shot a kid to death for getting his ass kicked in broad daylight found a defense in the press.
Not sure what will come of the lawsuits Rodriguez was forced to file in an actual court, where this monkey circus would have been thrown to the curb, but if it’s the right judge, and the rock that is MLB is allowed to be lifted, oh the slugs we will find.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight for Cinderella” and “Y”.