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Bernie Sanders wants to remove baseball’s antitrust exemption

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Bernie Sanders would like to talk to you about MLB’s anti-trust exemption.

Bernie Sanders would like to talk to you about MLB’s anti-trust exemption.
Image: Getty Images

Major League Baseball may soon have another fight on its hands. There’s a reason that there was never a USFL or an ABA to challenge MLB in the 20th century. The league has always been exempt from the antitrust laws passed in the Sherman Antitrust act of 1890 that attempt to ensure open competition in the free market. MLB won a Supreme Court case that said the clubs operate as entities in their own state and don’t engage in interstate commerce.

That might have made sense in 1922, even though the club owners did do business with each other like selling Babe Ruth from Boston to New York, because at least back then games were only broadcast on local radio stations. With MLB’s national television contracts now totaling nearly $2 billion per year, if the freaking Voting Rights Act can’t stay completely intact, it’s probably time for MLB to follow the same open market as everyone else — or at least on paper the same way as other companies as well off.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) has introduced the Save American Baseball Act to Congress to remove MLB’s antitrust exemption. The lockout that threatened the 2022 season was the final straw for Sanders, whose frustration had been percolating since 2020 when, MLB dissolved its relationship with minor league clubs in 40 communities, including Burlington, V.T.

It is well known that Sen. Sanders is not a fan of the wealthiest of Americans’ insatiable appetite for more. However, he makes a great point in his first statement, that speaks to a national problem that can be seen in sports.

“You have a handful of billionaires who own the major league teams,” Sanders said to Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports. “Who instead of running a system that works for the fans, works for the communities, is focusing completely on the kinds of profits that they can make.”

First, let’s set aside how his sentiments can be applied to many societal ills that threaten the fabric of the global community. Let’s also ignore the reminder of just how spectacular Larry David was impersonating Sen. Sanders on Saturday Night Live. The big three sports all have a problem with a declining quality of their product.

While the NFL playoffs ended well this past season, most of the regular season was a complete dud. NBA fans have spent much of the regular season focusing on the General Hospital element of the sport rather than the exciting young players on the floor. With MLB, diehard fans and casuals all lament how unentertaining the regular-season product has become. The basic answer to all three of these is: Sports is not fun when the owners are concerned more about profit than product.

The NFL added an extra regular season game, for what? To add an extra week to the television contracts, and earn another week of revenue from another week of game day action at the stadiums. Most slates of games were terrible, because bye weeks stretched from Week 7 to Week 14, and an extra week of giant human beings colliding with each other results in more injuries. I’m not sure what’s less entertaining, a backup quarterback starting in an NFL game, or a legitimate starting quarterback playing behind a backup offensive line. Either way, it can put any football fan to sleep by 4 p.m. EST on Sunday.

In the NBA, there are too many regular season games. It’s why players sit so much more now than they used to when they’re relatively healthy. They realized there is no need to push it to play 82 games, especially when 16 of the 30 teams make the playoffs. Also, today’s players have been on a professional schedule since their early teenage years. American prospects take on a monster AAU schedule every summer, and in other countries, Luka Dončić starts playing in professional leagues at 16-years-old. The players come in with too many miles on their bodies and it has to be managed. At the 50 game mark, it’s usually clear which teams have the best chance to make through that two-month marathon of a postseason, but there is no way the NBA would shorten the regular-season schedule even 10 games, even though the games would have more significance and the players who bring in viewers would be more likely to be on the court every night.

For all of the arguments about pace of play or not hitting for contact, one of the MLB’s biggest problems is front offices refusing to be competitive. They don’t see the need for having a team that can hold fan’s interest all summer, even if it only results in 77 wins and no playoffs. Instead, as of today, there are, again four whole major-league ball clubs with payrolls under $60 million. There are 10 with payrolls under $100 million. That’s not to say that $200 million will win a team a World Series, but these teams at the bottom are contributing nothing to the sport. They take an uninteresting product to ballparks around the country, and make it difficult for their home fans to invest in the success of the team while the owners rake in revenue sharing money.

With the national television contracts that all three sports have recently signed, the owners may feel they can use these teams as ATMs until they feel like cashing for the biggest profit when they sell. However, sports does have the same problem as all of live television, young people are watching less. With the television landscape ever changing, teams are doing themselves no favors by, instead of improving the product, just giving us more of what they already have, while trying to pay less to do so.

If you’ve ever participated in one of those business class contests in school, the trick to winning was always to invest as much into research and development as possible. These days, sports owners not only want to invest less in development, but less into their teams period, while making record profits, and the net worths of these teams skyrocket.

They can keep trying to lessen their investment in the product to maximize profit all they want, but if they don’t want to make the effort to participate in the whole civic pride thing that sells sports, they can one day find themselves going the way of NBC’s Must See TV Thursday. Maybe Sen. Sanders’ proposal, while it will hurt MLB owners in the short run if it passes, is one tiny step that can help the league in the long run. It can force the clubs to try a little bit harder to do the thing that fans never hesitate to loudly demand of players: Compete.



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Cardinals’ J.J. Watt plans to play just days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm

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JJ Watt says he’s playing Sunday, just days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm.

JJ Watt says he’s playing Sunday, just days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm.
Image: Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals’ defensive end J.J. Watt posted an alarming Tweet Sunday morning just hours before kickoff of the team’s game on the east coast against the Carolina Panthers. Watt stated that some news about him had been leaked and was going to be reported today. Immediately, most who caught this tweet were probably racking their brains and thinking, ok, what happened? From there, Watt went on to explain the following.

“I went into A-Fib on Wednesday, had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday, and I’m playing today. That’s it.”

Wow! I don’t think anyone expected to hear that about Watt. Everyone is relieved that Watt is out of the hospital and seemingly “alright,” but the fact that he plans to play in this game today only four days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm is scary.

If the Cardinals won’t do it, someone from the league office or the NFLPA needs to step in and force him to sit this game out. After what we’ve seen in the past week, with Tua Tagovailoa suffering two concussions in less than five days, Watt needs to be held out of Arizona’s game today.

No, Watt didn’t sustain an injury to his head, but his heart was shocked so it would work properly. Even if Watt was cleared by his own independent doctor, precautions should be taken just in case. Yes, it’s football, we know that, and everybody is tough. You have to be tough to make it in the NFL, but these players also need protection from themselves regarding their health. It doesn’t matter if atrial fibrillation isn’t “considered” too serious. Take extra precautionary measures and be careful.

Last week, during coverage of the Tua incidents, multiple former NFL players were asked about head injuries along with others and if they’d ever lied to get back into a game. The answer was a resounding YES. Former Patriots and Chargers All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison went on Dan Patrick’s show and admitted to lying about head injuries and others. Harrison says he lied every time he had an injury to continue playing.

Rodney Harrison Discusses Tua’s Injury, Shares How Often He Lied About Injuries | 09/30/22

Patrick also told a story about Steelers legend Hines Ward grabbing his ankle after getting his “bell rung” because he didn’t want to come out of a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s the head or the heart. If it involves either, that player should be further evaluated and forced to sit out a game. We can’t continue to gamble with these guys’ lives.

If Watt ends up playing at 4:05 p.m., it could be the biggest story of the day on the heels of what happened with Tagovailoa over the last week. Left up to them, NFL players will choose to play virtually every time. The league doesn’t want bad PR, yet they continue to invite it at every turn.

The NFL is too concerned about trivial matters like players celebrating or not wearing the “correct” socks. The league fined Lions running back Jamaal Williams for a touchdown dance last week that may have been a little too provocative for their liking. A player can be put in harm’s way after clearly looking concussed and allowed to play a few days later, but heavens forbid a black player offends their audience by swiveling his hips after scoring, à la Ravishing Rick Rude. The NFL needs to be more concerned with the well-being of its players and protecting them as they claim.

Hopefully, someone steps in and talks some sense into Watt or takes the decision out of his hands.





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F1: Sergio Perez wins hectic Singapore Grand Prix as Max Verstappen misses first chance to seal title

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A heavy downpour 30 minutes before the scheduled start time led to an hour-long delay and the first wet start in Singapore since 2017 – when a first corner crash wiped out a Red Bull and two Ferraris, including title contender Sebastian Vettel.

There was no such flying debris at the start this time around but still drama aplenty as Perez leapt past pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton lost out to Carlos Sainz for third.

Verstappen, starting eighth, found himself bogged down off the line and had only recovered to ninth when a safety car was required on lap eight.

Nicholas Latifi, recently confirmed to not be staying in F1 next season, squeezed Guanyu Zhou, who is, into the wall at Turn 5 and both were forced to retire.

Verstappen was quickly up to seventh at the restart before Fernando Alonso, in his record-breaking 350th start, put up stout resistance for his next overtake.

Alas, the Spanish veteran’s Alpine could not match its driver’s longevity and his engine blew on lap 21. A string of virtual safety cars was then began with Alex Albon hitting the wall shortly after the green flag and Esteban Ocon’s engine popping once racing had resumed once more.

The prime time to swap to slick tyres began to dominate thinking as the second hour began on the two-hour limit, with 61 laps a far too ambitious total (perhaps even in the dry).

Hamilton, pushing Sainz for third, came in too hot at Turn 7 and headed straight into the barrier. Fortunately for the Brit, the damage was merely a broken front wing and he clambered out between the sparring Lando Norris and Verstappen.

Moments later, the trigger was pulled by the remaining cars (George Russell aside, who while struggling from a pit-lane start leapt for slicks far too early) and Hamilton was left in ninth place.

Yuki Tsunoda became the sixth retiree after sticking his AlphaTauri in the barrier fresh on Medium tyres, prompting a second full safety car and the fifth interruption to an already-delayed race.

Verstappen, who could have won the title in Singapore had a series of events gone drastically different, locked up lunging at Norris for fourth place and darted down the escape road. Having to pit, he was last for a brief moment before Russell suffered a puncture when giving Mick Schumacher a bump as he overtook the German.

Finally, with half an hour to go, a proper race for the lead broke out. Now on slicks, Leclerc dragged Perez into his crosshairs.

Singapore’s propensity for being a tough circuit to overtake at helped the Mexican survive an onslaught from the Ferrari but Leclerc began to make errors and Perez broke DRS to build out a comfortable lead.

Red Bull came into the weekend with some hope of crowning Verstappen as champion at the chequered flag but it instead heralded a second win of the season for Perez, with a lowly finish of seventh for the championship leader reducing his chances of getting the job done in Japan next week, too.



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Singapore GP: George Russell to start from pit lane after changing his power unit

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Mercedes driver George Russell to start the Singapore Grand Prix in the pit lane after taking a new power unit which exceeded the spending quota for allocated engine parts; the Brit suffered a shock Q2 exit due to a throttle problem and was due to start the race in 11th place on the grid

Last Updated: 02/10/22 11:23am


Russell was frustrated after failing to make it into Q3 due to a problem with the car's brakes in qualifying

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Russell was frustrated after failing to make it into Q3 due to a problem with the car’s brakes in qualifying

Russell was frustrated after failing to make it into Q3 due to a problem with the car’s brakes in qualifying

George Russell will start the Singapore Grand Prix from the pit lane after taking a new power unit which exceeded his number of allocated engine parts.

Russell qualified 11th at the Marina Bay Circuit but he will be demoted to the back after Mercedes changed his power unit.

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The British driver has enjoyed an impressive opening season as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate, finishing in the top five at every race he has completed.

But Russell will struggle to keep that fine record intact following his penalty.

There was a big shock in qualifying as George Russell failed to make it into Q3 in Singapore

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There was a big shock in qualifying as George Russell failed to make it into Q3 in Singapore

There was a big shock in qualifying as George Russell failed to make it into Q3 in Singapore

The 24-year-old, who was pipped to Q3 by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, apologised to his team on the team radio, saying: “Sorry about that I really struggled. Exactly the same issue as in practice. Ahhh!”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc lines up from pole position for Sunday’s race ahead of Red Bull driver Sergio Perez with Hamilton third.

Max Verstappen starts only eighth after Red Bull under-fuelled his car. The Dutch driver must win to stand any chance of taking his second title here with five rounds to spare.

Watch the Singapore Grand Prix from 11.30am on Sky Sports F1, with lights out at 1pm.





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