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Bernie Sanders Slams ‘Baseball Oligarchs’ In MLB Deal

 |  March 14, 2022

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed Major League Baseball team owners as “baseball oligarchs” on Thursday after they took nearly 100 days to reach an agreement with the players union. 

“We are dealing with an organization controlled by a number of billionaires who collectively are worth over $100 billion,” he said in a statement after the lockout ended. “It should be clear to all that these baseball oligarchs have shown that they are far more concerned about increasing their wealth and profits than in strengthening our national pastime.”

In his statement, the former presidential hopeful and progressive icon also blamed owners for negotiating “in bad faith for more than 100 days in a blatant attempt to break the players’ union.”

Critics of senator Sanders’ statement, however, have pointed out that the Senate could have prevented the lockout in the first place by passing a bill that Sanders’ colleagues declined even to bring up for a vote. The bill has remained buried in the Senate for more than a year.

The antitrust exemption allows baseball to control where its teams play. If the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays cannot get new ballparks and decide to move, MLB alone makes the call, reported the LA Times. The NFL does not have an antitrust exemption, which factored into St. Louis winning $790 million after the Rams’ move to Los Angeles.

Since 1950, according to Indiana University professor Nathaniel Grow, Congress has held more than 60 hearings to debate the MLB antitrust exemption, never repealing it. In 2019, when Sanders and other members of Congress confronted MLB over the plan to eliminate minor league teams, Sanders told me “many, many members of the House and the Senate … are prepared to take a hard look” at the antitrust exemption.

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