Now here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to be writing this week: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred met with U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday to talk about MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league affiliates. Afterwards, Manfred issued a statement to the press:
Blah blah importance of professional baseball to communities blah blah obligation to local communities to ensure that public money spent on Minor League stadiums is done so prudently blah blah blah safe playing facilities blah blah we remain confident that solutions can be reached that satisfy the interests of all stakeholders.
In other words, there is no reason this cannot be all things to all people just because some people want the teams to stay and others want them to go away, why would you even think that?
Sanders replied something about how Manfred is “open to solutions” and added that he and other members of Congress will be “carefully monitoring the progress of negotiations on behalf of fans.” So yeah, the public statements at least are just a pro forma “we talked” notice, with no indication that any particular action will result. That’s likely going to turn on how careful that Congressional monitoring is, and how close it cuts to a potential revision of MLB’s antitrust exemption, which was put in place by the Supreme Court but which Congress can overturn with legislation — that Manfred found it necessary even to meet with Sanders shows he’s concerned about this, but that he issued such a perfunctory mealy-mouthed statement afterwards suggests that he’s not all that concerned, not yet, anyway.