Why (Baseball) Owners Hate Good Government

With major-league baseball’s new season upon us, it’s worth remembering that the sport used to have good government. That governance started in 1920 following the Black Sox gambling scandal. Team owners selected Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a former federal judge, for the job of baseball commissioner. He took it on the condition that he would have outright authority over all aspects of the sport.

Landis ruled until 1944, and he was followed by seven other independent commissioners, a string that ended with the forced resignation of Fay Vincent in 1992. Vincent had supported the players during the lockout of 1990 and scolded owners for colluding against the players. The owners, with the connivance in particular of Bud Selig of the Milwaukee Brewers (the current “commissioner”) and Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, had stolen $280 million from the players by rigging the signing of free agents. With the heist uncovered, the money was paid into to the players’ union.

In perverse retaliation, baseball owners ejected the umpire. In the infamous coup of ’92, they got rid of Vincent and busted the sport’s independent governing authority. They made Selig acting commissioner and, in 1998, gave him the full title. With a wink and a nod, Selig presided over the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which conveniently added home-run glamour to the game while boosting ticket sales. He helped the sleazy process of replacing many of the iconic stadium names with come-and-go corporate names. Houston Astros fans had to fight off bouts of schizophrenia as the home field’s name bounced from Colt Stadium to Astrodome to Enron Field to Astros Field to Minute Maid Park.


Are Right-Wingers Simply Stuck in Adolescence?

Not every modern conservative had a grandpa who made moonshine whiskey. With no family history of being pursued by federal revenuers, where does their extreme dislike of government come from?

The mentality is expressed succinctly in a reader’s comment about my previous article on the conservative psyche:

Conservatives simply want the Federal government to back-off. We don't need any elitist Washingtonians telling us what to eat, what to drive, how to illuminate our homes or educate our children. Real oppression comes from a nanny-state Federal government. The Federal government should focus on its constitutional purpose of defending the nation and enabling interstate commerce.
We can all agree that elitist Washingtonians, whoever they are, are the devil’s own brood. But we don’t usually think of nannies that way. Yet we’re just now discovering (thank you, Scott Walker) how nefarious our teachers are. Have we overlooked the nanny threat? As Glenn Beck has probably noted, the word does rhyme with canny.

Okay, for the moment let’s concede that the federal government is a nanny, a mean mother-figure who pushes us around. What about corporations? They can get pushy, too. To paraphrase the reader’s comment above, corporations determine what many of us eat (adulterated, genetically modified foods), produce what many of us drive (gas guzzlers), and sell what many of us use to illuminate our homes (inefficient light bulbs).