Real reason All-Star game was moved?
And what of the relationship between MLB and Fox Sports?
Good morning, all! I hope your week is going well.
Major League Baseball’s move to yank the All-Star game out of Georgia, because of that state’s new voting law, has set off a firestorm I don’t believe the sport expected. (The game has been moved to Coors Field in Denver, CO.)
As with everything else in this country, MLB’s controversial move into the political arena has ignited the left vs. right debate yet again. Republicans and conservative talk radio are coming down hard on the game and its commissioner. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio even wrote Commissioner Rob Manfred a letter, asking him if he would give up his membership at Augusta National. Manfred has yet to give a reply. Do not expect one.
Also, do not expect Manfred to have a change of heart. I believe his ulterior motive was different from the speculation making the rounds. It was the MLB Players Association that first pushed for the All-Star game’s removal from Georgia. It makes no difference that the association may not have read or misread the bill. It makes no difference that the economic impact of the game’s removal from metro Atlanta will be north of $100M. It makes no difference that the minority-owned businesses may be hit the hardest from the game’s removal.
The agreement between the association and owners expires in December. It is expected negotiations will be contentious. Association head Tony Clark, a former player, has been spoiling for a fight ever since he was taken to the cleaners in the last contract negotiations between the sides.
This move by Manfred - and it was a quick one just days after the association stated it wanted the game out of Georgia - may be his way of trying to ease the tension. If it is, it may come at a heavy price. The game is being lambasted on talk radio, as conservative talk show hosts and callers remind the audience “baseball is too slow anyway,” “shut up and pitch- when the pitcher gets around to pitching the baseball,” and “their TV ratings are in the toilet.”
A baseball work stoppage in December would have more of an economic impact on the sport than the ruination many of these businesses in Georgia will face, now that the game has been yanked from the Peach State. It is why Manfred really had no choice but to appease the union, no matter how righteous his statements may be.
What of Fox Sports and baseball?
It will be interesting to witness whether the relationship between Fox Sports and MLB will change with the All-Star game’s shift. Although the sports and news departments are separate, the Fox News Channel has ripped MLB for moving the game. It has devoted numerous shows to the commissioner’s decision, since it was announced on Friday.
Granted, Fox and FS 1&2 have carried MLB games for more than two decades and Fox is the flagship station for the World Series. And yes, the network is forking over billions to continue that relationship, but I am sure the commissioner has heard FSN’s constant drumbeat of criticism. Might he put pressure on one of the game’s television partners? There is precedent. When ESPN tepidly nudged the NFL about its concussion protocol and the players who allegedly engaged in domestic violence, the thin-skinned league turned the screws on ESPN, and the network backed off. It would not surprise me if we hear similar stories this time.
The Masters golf tournament begins Thursday and Jordan Spieth’s first win in nearly four years at the Valero Open last weekend has changed the odds. In case you missed it, here are the odds for this week’s tournament as posted by the William Hill Sportsbook
Dustin Johnson, favorite 9-1
Jordan Spieth, 10-1
Justin Thomas, 10-1
Bryson DeChambeau, 11-1
Rory McIlroy, 14-1
That is it for today. As always, thank you for your support.