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League meeting with Biden Administration; Union’s withdrawal

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Earlier in the week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic outlined a meeting between the Biden Administration and Major League Baseball – a meeting that the Players’ Union decided to sit out, citing their fear that the former two entities would work in tandem in an attempt to pressure the union to delay the start of the season.

The signs apparently point to the union being correct. It’s not news that MLB wants to push the start of the season back approximately a month; it’s also no secret that the new administration might object to a major sports league season beginning on its watch prior to vaccinations being distributed widely to its participants.

It’s perhaps an unusual request for the government to adjudicate a decision on behalf of a private entity like Major League Baseball while other leagues are operating in full force, sans fans. An observer in the comments section noted that the only reason the other leagues are operating is because they began prior to the change in administration. Still, the question remains how much sway an entity like the government should have in this type of situation.

Rosenthal closed his article by saying, “For now, however, all systems are go. Even though the government recommended against it.” This appeal to government rightness by Rosenthal is questionable. It’s nearly akin to a child appealing to another person that because “so and so” said so, then it must be the right choice.

I’m uninterested in standing on a political soapbox, but I do have to wonder what overstepping boundaries looks like in this context. For the government to insist that delaying the season is the right call, which appears to be what’s happening, is much different than stating that the league must shut down. Having an opinion on the situation is certainly not an infringement on anybody’s rights; I take more issue with the league’s dealings.

Given the recent propensity of Manfred and Co. to trip over their own feet, it wouldn’t surprise me if the league wanted to insert the heft of the American government into negotiations with the union about how to proceed with this season. Like Rosenthal, it seems as though the league is pointing toward the government and concluding their argument with, “Well, they said so.” In an attempt to appeal to a third party and absolve itself of villain status from both the players and the fans, the league has tripped itself once again.

Bear in mind: I’m speculating at the league’s intent. They, of course, haven’t explicitly stated any of these intentions – to do so would be laughably ill-conceived. I’m only relying on precedent over the last year, as well as what simply seems plausible.

While it’s unclear how this particular saga will unravel, it seems likely that the union will be unwilling to capitulate to either the league or the government’s demands – a result that is likely to garner support from most fans.