The office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball PAC donated $5,000 to the political campaign of Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is currently running to be a Mississippi state senator. Baseball fans across the country were immediately upset over this donation to a political candidate who is dropping race-based controversy in her wake. Hyde-Smith has been tagged by many as being racist based on her casual statement about attending a public hanging and past affiliations with racist institutions.
In the wake of these allegations against Hyde-Smith, several major corporations have demanded a return of their donations to her political campaign. Remarkably, the MLB made their donation after the allegations against Hyde-Smith, leading to a higher level of ire among baseball fans. Hyde-Smith’s denials of being a racist were remarkably insincere, yet MLB donated to her cause anyway. Thankfully, after a couple of days of being roasted throughout the baseball community, Big Baseball requested a return of their money.
The indignation of baseball fans over this donation stems from the optics of MLB seen as supporting a racist political candidate. While this anger is well-meaning, it’s only partially applicable in this instance. All one needs to do to find the true reason behind this utterly despicable political donation is to ask one basic question: Why would Major League Baseball be interested in a political candidate from the state of Mississippi?
Hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with what candidates have in mind for the state in which they’re running. As evidenced by their post-public hanging statements donation to Hyde-Smith, Baseball didn’t give a flipped bat about her political leanings beyond one issue, which exposed its motives as being just as contemptible as we suspected.
The purpose behind the donation to Hyde-Smith, and other politicians, is Baseball’s long-standing intent to deny paying minor league baseball players a living wage, and to limit the amount of time they’re paid for. Baseball owners recently lobbied Congress, and for their generosity, received a federal law that would guarantee minor league players a minimum wage.
While that looks admirable on the surface, they also tacked on stipulations that players would only be paid for a 40-hour workweek, receive no pay for playing in a sixth or seventh game in a week, for participating in spring training, or for the work they must do to remain in shape during the off-season.
The MLB argument is based on their insistence that minor league players are “seasonal workers”, similar to those hired by department stores for the holidays. Minor leaguers are paid by the parent baseball club that sponsors the minor league team, and most make around $1,150 a month. While I would love to play baseball for a living, I wouldn’t want to do it for wages that – per federal law – keep me at near-poverty levels.
While MLB has requested a return of their money from the Hyde-Smith campaign, and its feverishly issued PR statements about its commitment to being color blind may look like a victory, it’s important to note Baseball hasn’t requested refunds from any other of the politicians they bribed in the pursuit of personal legislation. Baseball backed away from Hyde-Smith because she has a rotten smell about her, but make no mistake, it will continue to buy politicians on both sides of the aisle, as long as they favor bosses over labor.
Yes, Baseball was supporting a possibly racist political candidate. That said, MLB wasn’t backing racism, but it was winking at it, in the name of greed.