MLB gave money to Cindy Hyde-Smith because Mitch McConnell told them to

Getty Images
73 Comments

For the past couple of days we’ve been talking about how Major League Baseball’s PAC made a maximum donation to the campaign of U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. Such donations have come under fire due to Hyde-Smith’s recent comments and actions making jokes out of lynchings and glorifying Confederate history.

As soon as the backlash hit MLB offered a non-explanation for the donation, saying — and I am not making this up — that it happened at a fundraiser. Which, yes, we know that, because that’s how fundraisers work. Major League Baseball did not say why it gave money to Hyde-Smith. Which, given that the donation came after she made pro-lynching comments, is rather relevant. Whose judgement was it that a donation to her campaign, in that amount, at that particular time, made sense?

The answer: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s judgement. That’s according to Jeff Passan’s report last night:

When a lobbyist who works for MLB could not attend a fundraiser put on by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in mid-November, the league was asked instead to donate money to Hyde-Smith, according to sources. The league cut the check for Hyde-Smith’s campaign on Nov. 12 or 13, two sources told Yahoo Sports – a day or two after the lynching comments were first made public by the Jackson Free Press. The campaign reported the contribution in a Nov. 24 filing.

This is not any better, of course. Last I checked, Mitch McConnell doesn’t have the authority to tell Major League Baseball what to do and does not have the power to make MLB’s independent judgment disappear. He may have asked for MLB to give money to a race he really wants his party to win down in Mississippi, but MLB didn’t have to do it. And, given that Hyde-Smith was in the process of showing some pretty ugly true colors at the time, MLB should not have done it.

So, chalk this up as failure number two on MLB’s part to explain its contribution to Hyde-Smith. The first merely being a description of where the donation occurred and the second being an admission that it did not use any judgment whatsoever in making the donation but, rather, inexplicably followed Mitch McConnell’s orders to do so.

At some point, someone with some decision making authority over Major League Baseball’s political operation needs to come forward and explain his or herself and explain how someone — anyone — is going to be held accountable or take responsibility for this. I won’t tell MLB what it should do, but having experience with campaign committees, I’ll say that this is the sort of thing people get fired over when public-facing businesses are involved or, at the very least, something for which they offer full explanations and apologies.

I’m not holding my breath, though. Indeed, the next thing I expect to hear from Major League Baseball regarding its community involvement or attitudes toward race is when it pats itself on the back for donating some equipment to an inner-city Little League team or for issuing the same, mildly-reworked statement it makes every year regarding Jackie Robinson.

Expecting them to say a thing about their clueless support for a person like Cindy Hyde-Smith — a person who stands in plain opposition to the values Major League Baseball likes everyone to believe it holds dear — is, apparently, too much to ask.