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Can Mayor Adams end the baseball lockout? How he could put pressure on the league.

We publish the following article that our good friend, Dr. Carry Goodman had written to all of us baseball fans. It was originally published in the Daily News
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By Dr. Cary Goodman
As Mayor Adams has plenty on his plate — but if he focuses on a crisis nobody expects is his to solve, he just might be able to come to the rescue. I’m talking baseball: Adams is positioned to save us from the plague of greed that has replaced COVID as a threat to the spirit of our great city and help end the lockout. New York City works towards recovery and the nation worries about the war in Europe, people from Staten Island to San Francisco have been robbed by the Barons of Baseball of the hope that the national pastime’s return is imminent. The feeling of rebirth that arrives with baseball each spring is instead replaced by a sense of sadness. Small businesses that depend on baseball, especially in the Bronx and Queens, are suffering. Adams can provide the energy and strategy to overcome the malaise of despair gripping New York City and the nation.

 

Here are the five steps the mayor can take.
One, he can use his position to rally his fellow mayors through the National League of Cities. It is not just Yankee and Met fans who are distraught about the prospects of losing this baseball season. Cub and White Sox fans in Chicago, Giant and Dodger fans in California, Ranger and Astro fans in Texas all want the same thing: a new season of 162 joy-filled days. Mayors Lori Lightfoot, Eric Garcetti, London Breed and others should rally and join a national campaign and pressure their team owners to end the lockout.
 Two, Adams can recruit the New York’s congressional delegation to help. They, Republicans and Democrats, can announce their intention to revoke the anti-trust exemption for baseball unless the owners get their act together. One hundred years ago, team owners were granted the right to conspire with one another without fear of being prosecuted by the Sherman Act, which prevents businesses from colluding to fix prices and suppress competition. As a result of congressional and court approval, Major League Baseball became a monopoly. As with any monopoly, power at the top (owners and the commissioner) is almost completely unchecked. The players can try to resist this enormous force, but there’s only so much they can do in the face of legally-sanctioned larceny. Led by electeds from blue and red states, the owners’ power can hang in the balance.

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Three, Adams can convene a meeting of the top executives of the broadcast community and solicit their help in pressuring Major League Baseball. CBS, ESPN, Fox and TBS all carry games and have major offices in the Big Apple. They are spending billions every year to bring the sport to millions of fans. They are vested in the reputation of baseball and stand to lose substantial revenues if the game is stained by a shortened season or a nasty drawn-out fight. Though the owners don’t depend on the broadcast revenues to pay for their lavish, personal lifestyles of private jets and mansions, their teams and the league make their living from the beer and car commercials that are beamed into our living rooms with every game. Adams can recruit allies to his End the Lockout campaign by mobilizing these media moguls.

 

4. The mayor can use his bully pulpit to amplify the voices of millions of New York baseball fans. Convene a rally at Citi Field. Hold a prayer vigil with Cardinal Dolan and other clergy in front of Yankee Stadium. Make the owners feel the enormous frustration that exists because of the lockout.
5. Maybe the biggest weapon that Mayor Adams has is the power of the purse. The city owns the land under Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. But as a result of a sweetheart deal made decades ago, neither the Mets nor the Yankees pay property taxes or real rent. Adams can move to rework these leases and claw back the billions of dollars in subsidies that the teams enjoy.
It is downright disgusting, for example, that the Yankees play in one of the poorest neighborhoods in urban America, make hundreds of millions of dollars every year, yet contribute nothing to the tax base. The small business bars and souvenir shops across from the House that Jeter Built are on the verge of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the Bronx bombers reap the benefits of free municipal services like cops, traffic agents, firefighters.
Adams should pressure our local billionaire owners, Hal Steinbrenner and Steve Cohen, to carry the “End the Lockout” message to the other owners. Governors and mayors across America can exert similar economic pressure on their barons.
Mr. Mayor, Your Honor, the time is right for you to throw out the first pitch. Help end the lockout.

Dr. Goodman is the founding executive director of the 161 BID, in the Yankee Stadium district. Carygood@aol.com

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