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

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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.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”