A Mayor’s Pitch for the Baseball vote Op-Ed

| 22 Jun 2015 | 03:20

“Mr. de Blasio…has likened his administration to the ‘Moneyball’ Oakland Athletics, baseball’s foremost modern example of overcoming financial inequality.”

The New York Times

With polls showing that Yankee and Mets fans give Mayor de Blasio a paltry 40 percent approval rating, the mayor has introduced a series of proposals aimed at his baseball base. During several media appearances Mr. de Blasio has promoted his vision of leveling the Major League playing field.

“We must increase the luxury tax so that franchises struggling to sign free agents can compete with the one percent of teams that get 75 percent of TV revenue,” the mayor said on SNY’s Geico SportsNite. “We can not be a city where Legend Suite ticket holders are the only fans who can afford to attend games.” He also announced plans to introduce legislation that would require teams to add ten bleacher seats for every new luxury box.

Some baseball observers have noted that the mayor’s plans seem better suited for small-market cities, than a big market town like New York. “He will anger a lot of Yankee fans, since their team benefits from baseball’s financial disparity,” said ESPN’s Buster Olney. “His message is clearly aimed at the bleacher-bum vote.”

The mayor followed up his economic proposals with a call to reform stadium security practices. “No fan exercising their Constitutional right to enter a ballpark should have their bag searched without probable cause,” Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference in MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. “This is the baseball civil rights issue of our era.”

Mr. de Blasio’s plan to limit turnstile searches drew the ire of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “This would be an invitation for irresponsible fans to pelt umpires with glass bottles every time they disagreed with a call,” Mr. Giuliani said while appearing on the YES Network’s Michael Kay Show. “This mayor is intent on reversing the huge decrease in fights in the stands, that started with my administration.”

Despite the controversial nature of the mayor’s progressive agenda, his administration continues to challenge baseball’s status quo. In testifying before the City Council, schools Chancellor Carmen Farina asked legislators to provide funding for universal tee-ball. “It is disgraceful that we have little leaguers who don’t know how to hit the cut-off man or read a scorecard,” the chancellor said. “This lack of baseball education is why America’s pastime is increasingly dominated by Dominicans.”

City Hall is also making a pitch for health care legislation that would require insurers to cover Tommy John surgery for teenagers. “No parent should see their child’s career cut short because their health insurance won’t cover elbow ligament reconstruction,” mayoral spokesperson Marti Adams told reporters at a recent press conference.

The mayor’s health care proposal could put him at odds with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who reportedly believes that limiting pitch counts in sandlot games is the best way to curtail arm injuries. “We don’t need a Boston fan telling New Yorkers how to preserve young arms,” an unattributed source said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “The Red Sox have mishandled more pitching prospects than any other team.”

The success of Mr. de Blasio’s agenda may not be dependent on the governor, as he has taken a national approach to promoting his goals. The mayor is currently in San Francisco attending a conference of progressive fantasy league players, and he will throw out the first pitch at a Mets-Brewers game--played in Milwaukee.

All this travel has fostered speculation that Mr. de Blasio’s wants to run for Baseball Commissioner. But City Hall denies that the mayor has such ambitions. “The mayor is focused on New York,” New York City Sports Commissioner Kenneth Podziba wrote in an email. He is traveling around Major League cities to campaign for Mets and Yankees players on the All Star ballot.”

Records from the Board of Elections show that Mayor de Blasio has already made his All Star Game choices…a vote which he cast by absentee ballot.