Is MLB Creating A Conflict Of Interest?

Hey, a chance to talk politics, business, and baseball!

Major League Baseball along with private equity firm, Seidler Equity Partners, are buying Rawlings Sporting Goods.

Now I realize that Rawlings has been making the official balls for the MLB for ages…but doesn’t this automatically preclude any other manufacturer from bidding on the contract? Does this put pressure on prospective and marginal major leaguers to use Rawlings gear? This just sounds like trouble to me!

Rawlings is being sold by its current owner, Newell Brands Inc., in order to reduce debt load and streamline its operations. Major League Baseball’s reason for buying it comes in the form of a statement from Chris Marinak, the league’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation:

“MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887. We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.”

And then there’s this:

That important on-field product has been in the news quite a bit lately, as Major League Baseball recently revealed that the composition of the ball had, apparently inadvertently, changed, reducing its aerodynamic drag, resulting in a record-setting spike of home runs over the past two and a half seasons.

What’s to prevent MLB from doctoring the balls in the future any which way they want to provide the version of baseball they think the fans want at the time.

If you can’t juice the players anymore…you can always juice the ball!


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