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Cub Tracks’ beginning of the end?

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Windows MMXXII, trade KB, anti-trust, and other bullets

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Wrigley Field, Chicago by Franklin McMahon Photo by �� Franklin McMahon/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Manfred is a four-letter word. This kinda $#!% gets my dander up.

The Cubs’ competitive window apparently will close at about the same time that the game itself will close. Baseball and indeed all competitive sports have a history of being held hostage to the desires of the well-heeled big wheels that run everything, and damn the wishes of the players and fans.

For example, in 1889: The National League issues its reply to the Players League manifesto. Claiming that the League saved baseball in 1876 and that under the reserve rules players’ salaries have “more than trebled,” the NL denounces the Brotherhood movement as “the efforts of certain overpaid players to again control [baseball] for their own aggrandizement... to its ultimate dishonor and disintegration.” (BBRef)

In 2000: Citing statistics to a U.S. Senate panel, Commissioner Bud Selig states it is time for “sweeping changes” in the game’s economic make-up, raising the possibility of a work stoppage after the current contract expires on October 31, 2001. (BBRef)

It’s this kind of political football that made me vow not to spend money on anything NFL or NBA (and the Cubs are knee-deep in it). There’s a rich history of this in baseball... there are plenty of chronicles of financial malfeasance and influence-peddling on the part of the ruling class, and plenty of evidence that the behavior of the current group of owners amounts to conspiracy in its most basic sense as an agreement between disparate parties, and ample evidence of collusion in its most basic sense, to wit: “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.”

The Supreme Court declined to rule on the anti-trust exemption, leaving it up to Congress. The 100th anniversary of this gift is in 2022.

Coincidence? Probably. But the idea and its consequences surface often in my Baseball history unpacked series, and some of those consequences are before us now. What would it mean to change that**? Ask Josh or Tim again about the reserve clause, and what it means.

**In 1998, Congress passed the Curt Flood Act, which partially repealed the antitrust exemption to give the Players Association the same rights as the unions in the other major sports. Congress specifically stated that the exemption was still intact with respect to relocation, the reserve clause, the minor leagues, and broadcasting contracts. This Act also had the effect of writing the antitrust exemption into law, ensuring that a full repeal will only come from Congress, and not the Supreme Court.

Oh, and this is my 1,000th Cub Tracks. That’s right, Boomer — I’m now a Millennial. It’s going to be an interesting couple of years, Arte Johnson. Very interesting.

Here’s today’s Cubs News and Notes. As always, * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). {$} means paywall. {$} means limited views. Italics are often used here as sarcasm font.

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.