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Still waiting for legislators to play ball

Every year, right around now, this newspaper and most other media outlets become deeply entrenched in the election process — and well, a few other things.

It’s not uncommon for the newsroom to start ramping up for election season right around the start of Major League Baseball spring training.

This year, I’m not so sure about either.

Normally, this would be the election cycle when candidates would be seeking federal and state legislative seats for statewide offices like governor and U.S. senator, and for countywide races like county commissioner, county auditor and a few others.

Here in my newsroom, we always know how important it is to get to know the candidates and issues so that we may inform you, dear reader, so you can make informed choices at the polls.

We mail questionnaires seeking information from candidates in contested races, and our reporters spend time tracking them down to speak about their ideas and goals.

Of course, this newspaper’s editorial board, of which I am a member, also participates in many of the candidate interviews. We review completed questionnaires, candidates’ histories and any campaign literature they share with us. And then, in some races, we offer our endorsement. Time usually does not permit us to endorse in every race, but we do look at a broad spectrum as a service to our readership.

As I’ve stated many times, we never believe our opinion is the “be all end all,” but rather it should be viewed as a starting point for debate and discussion.

That’s kind of like the guidance that sports writers might provide for our readers who are preparing for their MLB fantasy draft.

In a normal year, around the start of MLB season, our sports department would be sharing critiques of returning starting pitchers, analyses of the young prospects with a shot at the “bigs” this year and sharing stories about the home team’s outlook.

However, thanks to the ongoing redistricting debacle in our state legislature and now also in the Ohio Supreme Court, this is far from a normal year. Nobody knows if we’ll see approved legislative districts in time for regularly scheduled spring primary elections.

Likewise, thanks to the work stoppage in the MLB due to contract disputes, our baseball season is equally questionable. Nobody knows if we will get an inked contract in time for the regularly scheduled, 162-game regular season to get underway.

Pitchers and catchers should have reported to spring training weeks ago. Instead, they remain at home, probably constantly checking their cellphones for any sign or word that the season might start on time.

Regarding the election, we can get to work researching the countywide races, which won’t change. But boundary lines separating state legislative and congressional districts have yet to be finalized. The latest district map offered up last week is sure to be challenged yet again.

Here’s a glance at some similarities involving the two situations that are majorly affecting our lives.

Discussions for both — legislative districts and an MLB contract — started slow, with no side seemingly willing to give an inch. Then, as deadlines loomed, talks started to pick up. Are these negotiations under way in earnest? None of us waiting in the wings can say for certain, but frankly, nobody I talk to is holding high hopes.

To be sure, many other parallels exist when comparing the two sets of negotiations. Legislators and the MLB negotiators both seem to spend a lot of time playing games. And while they all should be focused on the little people — the fans and the constituents, that is — at the end of the day, it’s much more likely that they all are just way too focused on their bottom lines.

Despite all this, one very significant difference between the two sets of negotiations is very clear.

If the baseball players can’t reach an agreement, fans will be mad — but not nearly as mad as a few members of the Ohio Supreme Court. And baseball fans don’t have the power to hold anyone in contempt and throw anyone in jail.

Please, can’t we just play ball?


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