The historical what-ifs embedded in this paragraph are boggling:
In 1966, when he was elected to run the players’ union, Miller was in some ways too big for the job. An economist and leader in the United Steelworkers union, he had met and directly negotiated with American presidents and been offered both a visiting professorship at Harvard and work directing a long-term study for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Baseball, by contrast, was a backwater. The players were so naïve that he had to explain to them at an early meeting that they were being screwed over because their pensions didn’t have any mechanisms to adjust for inflation. He also warned his soon-to-be constituency that Richard Nixon, a rival for the job, probably had political ambitions beyond heading their union. (Later, he was able to gloat. “I was glad to see he had managed to find work after losing out on the Players Association job,” he wrote of meeting President Nixon in 1969.)
Nixon did have those ambitions, and because he didn’t get the job he was free to pursue them, no? Can anyone imagine what baseball would be like right now if Nixon had gotten his fangs into it in 1966? More important, wouldn’t the 300 million non-baseball players of this nation be a lot better off if he had? I dunno about you, but I’d gladly forego free agency if it meant the southern strategy had never been invented and implemented, wouldn’t you?