On that Super League nonsense

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not completely learned in the ways of men’s soccer’s worldwide economics. I know enough to know, however, that the system that is in place — in Europe, not in the United States’ MLS version of the game — does a better job of promoting competition than an American league like Major League Baseball does. There is a reason that, over the years, you’ve seen more than one writer pine for the idea of relegation in American sport leagues, especially in one like MLB where tanking or actively not trying is so rampant: the threat of being demoted to a lesser league and replaced by a team that is actually trying would provide the kind of motivation missing from the day-to-day and long-term operations of quite a few MLB teams.

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Canada doesn’t want any part of MLB’s 2020 pandemic season

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The U.S. government would love to use MLB as a distraction, again

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A return to normalcy. It’s an empty promise when “normal” is so terrible for so many, when normalcy is what helped bring us to this moment in time where even more lives than usual are in danger, when profits are being placed above the welfare of people and their lives. It’s an old promise, though, and a time-tested one that’s effective in its messaging, even if what it promises is underwhelming or outright untrue.

“A return to normalcy” is basically all that’s powering the campaign of the assumed Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden, a campaign that’s hoping you’ll ignore that the “normalcy” it’s promising is what helped the current regime rise to power in the first place. It’s a card both the Dems and the Republicans can play to great effect, though, in terms of maintaining power and avoiding doing anything more than acknowledging the symptoms of some real issues. Just look at what Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell has been saying lately, about bringing Major League Baseball back:

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MLB will reportedly get their wish for a shrunken MiLB

Minor League Baseball, for over a year now, has been fighting Major League Baseball about shutting down or disaffiliating over one-quarter of its teams. It appears that fight is at an end, and if you were rooting for MiLB, you’re going to be disappointed.

Baseball America reported on Tuesday that, when talks resume on Wednesday between the two sides currently negotiating the Professional Baseball Agreement that governs their relationship, that MiLB will give in to MLB’s demands that they shrink to 120 affiliated clubs. It always felt like it was bound to happen, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that sealed the fate of 40-plus clubs. Federal, state, and local governments were going to be the greatest ally of these potentially disaffiliated minor-league teams, and with all of their attention now focused on handling a pandemic, MLB has MiLB right where it wants them: in a corner, alone.

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MLB wants to return by June, but that seems impossible

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COVID-19 sheds light on inequality, in sports and beyond

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been shining a light on social inequity and the lack of social safety nets in America, be it in how the government is responding (to means test solutions or not to means test solutions; insider trading to enrich themselves off of the pandemic itself), how people are responding (hoarding for price gouging; forcing their employees to show up for “essential” work that doesn’t fit that definition no matter how much you stretch it), and in who has access to being tested for the virus itself.

The last point is the one we’ll focus on here, and not just because it has a sports component that allows me to shoehorn it into a niche newsletter. Testing for the coronavirus still is not widely available… unless you’re rich and/or famous. On the night when the COVID-19 threat became real to many people, the members of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and Oklahoma Thunder were tested for the virus. When you add up players, staff, and so on, that was 58 tests: and those tests came from Oklahoma’s limited daily supply. In fact, the 58 tests comprised 60 percent of Oklahoma’s supply, a strong majority.

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Paying MLB’s stadium workers during COVID-19 suspension isn’t ‘complicated’

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Major League Baseball would like you to know something: paying stadium workers during the postponement of the 2020 regular season is going to be “complicated.” How do we know this? Because that’s what was reported on Sunday by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

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MLB is forcing MiLB players to leave spring training, without pay or hope

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Spring training is officially over, and the Major League Baseball Players Association sent out a memo to its members telling them they could stay at the spring training facility, go home, or head to the city that their team plays in. The allowances teams give to players during spring training, like for housing, are still in effect. The on-field facilities players use to prep for the regular season will remain open to those who stay, as well, and teams will assist in flying out the families of any players who had their families with them in Arizona or Florida, to boot.

According to minor-league players spoken to under the condition of anonymity, MLB’s response was much more terse and disconcerting: go home. It was left up to each individual team to craft their own message to their minor-league players that said as much, but that was what had to be relayed from above. Go home, whether you’re a domestic or international player. Go home, because you, as minor-league players, don’t have the protections and rights to negotiating an exit as unionized players.

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Mavericks will pay arena workers during coronavirus suspension, but what about every other team?

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American sports’ response to coronavirus is still lacking

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Despite the growing threat of coronavirus — which the World Health Organization is close to calling a pandemic, which now has over 1,000 confirmed cases in the United States despite America failing to test for the virus at the same rate as other afflicted countries — American sports leagues, for the most part, are going about business as usual.

Yes, the media is now barred from locker rooms and clubhouses across four major active sports (MLB, NHL, NBA, MLS), but fans are still attending those games. Media members can’t get within six-to-eight feet of a player to interview them, but 20,000-plus people still get to sit elbow-to-elbow, eating food from a concessions worker who can’t afford to take the day off if they have a cough, and then those 20,000 people disperse into the world once more, potentially carrying COVID-19 with them into their next interactions.

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