Mitch McConnell calls Rob Manfred to push for baseball’s return

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As Major League Baseball considers any number of plans and scenarios to return, it’s probably worth noting that there is more to the push for its resumption than just the sport’s own personal interest. There is, and will increasingly be, political pressure for baseball to come back.

If you doubt that, note that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell was interviewed by a Louisville radio station yesterday and, during the interview, said that he called MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to push for baseball’s return.

“I called the commissioner of baseball a couple of weeks ago and I said, ‘America needs baseball. It’s the sign of getting back to normal. Any chance?’” McConnell said. He added, “It would be a great morale booster for the country and an indication that we’re going to begin to get back to normal.”

It’s hard to disagree with McConnell when he says that people would be happy for baseball to return. But given how there is an increasingly strong push from certain corners of America’s political class to simply re-open, regardless of what public health officials recommend, it’s not unreasonable to be wary of re-opening advice that is primarily symbolic or even political in nature as opposed to advice grounded in medical and scientific expertise. What is safe vs. what is unsafe is not a matter of mere opinion and one cannot defeat a pandemic via symbolism.

Anyway, That report came out yesterday evening. Also yesterday evening:

Ultimately, when baseball settles on a plan to return, it will be obligated to justify its plans scientifically and medically. Here’s hoping that, and not pressure from the likes of Mitch McConnell, is what leads the decision making process.

No lease extension, but Orioles and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.