Senate

Sanders introduces bill targeting MLB’s antitrust exemption

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced a bill that would target Major League Baseball’s (MLB) antitrust exemption.

Sanders announced the legislation, called the “Save American Baseball Act,” on Tuesday during an appearance on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

“I’m very excited that we have introduced this legislation which should do away with the unique antitrust protections that Major League Baseball has enjoyed since 1922,” Sanders told Gumbel.

“I think the time is now when these billionaires should start paying attention to the needs of the fans and the people of this country, rather than just their bottom line.”

In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled that the MLB did not meet the criteria of “interstate commerce”, resulting in the court deciding that the league didn’t fall under the Sherman Act, which prohibits businesses from engaging in acts that suppress competition — hence the anti-trust exemption. 

Sanders raised the possibility of Congress removing the exemption following the MLB lockout, which threatened to delay the start of the season before a labor deal was struck earlier this month. 

The Vermont senator has also been a leading critic of the MLB’s cost-cutting decision to cut ties with dozens of minor league teams, many in smaller cities across the country — including Burlington, Vt.

“These are baseball oligarchs who, over the last year, eliminated their affiliation with over 40 minor league teams, not only causing needless economic pain and suffering, but also breaking the hearts of fans in small and mid-sized towns all over America,” Sanders said earlier this month. 

Recently, four former MLB-affiliated minor league clubs filed a lawsuit against the league over its minor league reorganization, also calling out the league anti-trust exemption, according to The Athletic. 

Sanders said that removing the MLB’s antitrust exemption would bring the league in line with other major professional leagues.

“It would mean that competition would arise,” Sanders told Gumbel. “It would mean that other people would have the opportunity to start different Major League Baseball leagues. It would mean that baseball would be spreading to areas that now don’t have it. In other words, there would be finally competition. And the Major Leagues would not be able to do simply what they wanted to do.”

Sanders added the league is currently focused on profits over their fans, noting that lawmakers on both sides should look into the matter, including the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This year’s lockout was the ninth work stoppage in MLB history and the first one since the 1994-1995 players’ strike, in which most of the 1994 regular and postseason were canceled.

Tags Bernie Sanders HBO MLB MLB lockout

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