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May 28, 2009

Gammons Slams Will on Sotomayor, Baseball
Posted by Adam Blickstein

Willbaseball Ok, this is slightly out of the international and national security purview of Democracy Arsenal, but I couldn't resist. George Will yesterday struggled to repackage conservative talking points on Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in terms of her "saving baseball," arguing that her pro-union, anti-capitalist decision to force MLB owner's hands during the 1994-1995 player's strike hindered, not rehabilitated the sport:

Will says that "in fact, what she did was take sides, took union's side against the management, and in so-doing, wasted 262 days of negotiations. That, far from saving baseball, consigned baseball to seven more years of an unreformed economic system, which happened to be the seven worst years in terms of competitive balance."

Sotomayor, Will says, "delayed the restructuring of baseball. So I would say that far from her saving baseball, as the president says, that in fact, baseball thrives now because we got over the damage that her judicial activism did in that strike."

Lack of context and historical accuracy on Will's part aside (negotiations between the owners and players basically dried up in December of 1994 and the owners and management were far from unified in using replacement players, which would have further splintered, fractured, and decimated baseball's future), his ridiculous assertions were slammed yesterday, though not directly, by real baseball expert Peter Gammons:

She didn't necessarily save baseball; she saved the owners from themselves. The people who tried to rig the system with collusion, pay-for-performance and the artificial attempt to implement their own labor system were, as usual, ill-advised and leaderless. When Sotomayor forced the game to resume and charged that they bargain in real faith, baseball under Selig went from a $1.3 billion to $7.5 billion business.

Hard to argue with those facts from Gammons. But as we all know, Will isn't one to use facts with terrible accuracy. I think he's just bitter cause his Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Maybe he should stick to lambasting Levis and not the Major Leagues.


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Wow. And here I figured baseball was the one topic on which Will was likely to be reasonably trustworthy.

What is your basis for this assertion? "negotiations between the owners and players basically dried up in December of 1994 and the owners and management were far from unified in using replacement players, which would have further splintered, fractured, and decimated baseball's future"

If they were so ununified, why was I watching one of the best exhbition games I've ever seen before with 42,000 other fans when Sotomayor ruled in favor of this multimillionaire trust for the 1995 season? It sure seemed like they had replacement players out there and ready to go for the season to me. Don't get a multimillionaire league of unionists confused with your local janitors union. Baseball was going on and no toilets were clogged and no one suffered poverty as a result of promoting more humble, deserving players.

More importantly, exactly how would getting player salaries under control have decimated baseball's future? What options do you think the players would have beyond eventual compromise? Do you think Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson would be playing for the Lakers for a higher salary? Of course not: at worst baseball would have had to do without deion sanders, if that is possible. Eventually the players would of had to deal because no matter what baseball was proposing, it offered a better life, job, and future than anything else 99% of the players could be doing. So please explain how baseball would have been decimated by playing replacement players until compromise was made, as I'd really like to hear what kind of convoluted nonsense you can come up with to explain this.

Will is not an unbiased source here either. At the time of the strike, he was (a small) part of the ownership group of the Baltimore Orioles. His strong por-owner views on baseball may be sincere, but they also were financially beneficial for him.

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