It’s Looking Like MLB (I.E. Rob Manfred) Jumped The Gun On This One

Rob Manfred feeling the Stress (Dallas Morning News)

MLB’s decision to move this year’s All-Star Game and Draft from Atlanta was a rash and knee-jerk move by Rob Manfred. Protest is mounting.

Major League Baseball (MLB) can hardly be considered a standard-bearer for the Civil Rights movement in America when you consider its players embodied the equivalent of 20th Century slaves until Curt Flood courageously pulled the plug on the reserve clause.

Pushed and prodded by changing American culture but never in the forefront of social change, MLB is most accurately cast as the hare trying to catch up to the tortoise.

But whoever said that MLB has to be anything other than our National Pastime, a boys game played by young men with billions of dollars on the table to make all associated with the game very happy and content with their status in life.

So it came as a surprise when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced his decision to move the All-Star Game and Draft from Georgia, a state that last week passed a voting rights bill that President Biden labeled as “Jim Crow on steroids.”

MLB And The So-Called Crux Of The Matter

A bill, it was said, that was specifically designed and written to limit the number of votes cast by blacks in future elections.

Biden draws a line in the sand (
Biden draws a line in the sand (

As claimed by extended voting rights supporters, the new law is a blatant attempt by the conservative governor and Georgia State Legislature to circumvent Biden’s triumph over Trump and the ensuing election of two Democrats to the U.S. Senate.

Bear with me for a minute here (this will be about MLB and baseball), but it’s important to note that each state in the union constitutionally has the right to conduct elections via its own laws. (Article I, Section 4, Clause 1)

This is relevant because it’s becoming increasingly clear that no one at MLB, least of all Rob Manfred, took the time to read the law passed in Georgia. More on that in a minute.

More to the point, though, is there was no “groundswell” of protest emanating from teams or players that demanded action from Manfred and MLB.

As chronicled in yesterday’s essay on the same subject, only Giancarlo Stanton and Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts had weighed in suggesting action was needed, and both of their comments had come almost a week earlier.

With the All-Star Game looming and scheduled for July 13, a full three months from now, a question that can be legitimately raised (now) is – “What’s the rush, Rob?”

MLB Manfred And The Rush To Judgement

Why not take a few days to explore other means of resolving a beef with the state of Georgia, short of pulling a boon to the economy out from under the city of Atlanta?

Shining a spotlight on the importance of the one-man-one-vote pillar of American democracy, while a worthy goal by MLB, may have been better exercised in any of several ways during All-Star Weekend in Atlanta.

For one, who not have an “Open-Mic” segment just before the rating splash Home Run Derby in which players are (voluntarily) invited to “speak their minds and hearts”?

“I am here tonight as a professional major league ballplayer first, and as someone who graciously and thankfully accepts and appreciates all that baseball has given me.

But I am also a citizen of the United States of American, the beacon of democracy throughout our planet.

And therefore, I envelop and support all means that ensure each of my fellow Americans their right to participate and vote in all elections – with no encumbrances and every manageable means to encourage – not thwart if and when it presents itself – our right to elect our representatives.”

Immediately following that should be a video detailing and acknowledging the life and times of Atlanta’s home-town hero and recently passed – Henry Aaron.

Drawing attention to an issue or problem is always the first step toward reaching a solution. What betters a stage than a national TV audience of millions to inaugurate a discussion?

Is there Another Side…

Georgia Governor Kemp challenges MLB (
Georgia Governor Kemp challenges MLB (

Earlier today, I found myself watching Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s press conference (full video here)

It struck me that his attack on MLB and Rob Manfred has some salient points that need to be heard.

Kemp began the press conference with this statement (paraphrasing): “If Rob Manfred believes what he says, he should pull MLB headquarters out from under New York City and State.”

He then went on, and the video speaks for itself, to suggest that New York State, a bastion of liberalism, has laws on its books more stringent than the law just passed in his state (again see video).

Now, how is this relevant to MLB?

It’s relevant only because baseball in Rob Manfred’s name should have read the Georgia law, citing specific clauses or language (which it didn’t in Manfred’s statement) that it found exculpatory evidence that Georgia had defamed the game of baseball.

Regretfully, what we have here is a case of an MLB Commissioner who is on a mission to solidify his legacy.

Others have come before him, and more will soon follow with only a need to justify their job until the position is released from beholden to the team owners who elect them.

Who can read into the mind of Rob Manfred yesterday, as he saw a need to tweak the sport he was in charge of – but the question stands as one needing more discussion and investigation as to why his decision came about so rashly.

If he wishes, Manfred can lamely hang his hat on the NBA’s decision to move their 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, due to the state’s notorious “bathroom bill” – but doesn’t that seems like a century ago given all that’s occurred since then?

So what if the pendulum (now) swings the other way?

What if, as I’m seeing in comments sent to me, there is now a backlash that MLB is not equipped to deal with?

Rob Manfred giving everyone a headache (USA Today)
Rob Manfred giving everyone a headache (USA Today)

I’m not sure about you, but I can’t see Rob Manfred up on a platform begging mea culpa, mea culpa, maxima culpa – oops – maybe we should rethink this thing.

Heroism, when there is no valor, is not a mark of bravery.

Rob Manfred has reached beyond those boundaries with a decision to move the All-Star Game from Georgia that is not as necessarily wrong as it is premature.

This story will, and should, have “legs,” as they say in the business.

And with apologies to those who still cast their head in the sand, politics and social issues have a place in MLB and how the game is played and staged today – there will be (because there must be) a follow-up to this article as merited.

Readers Have Their Say Here…

That press conference by The Governor today just absolutely eviscerated Manfred’s decision. I especially loved the point he made that MLB has its offices in New York – A state with far more restrictive voting laws.
Not rash. Practical. Many Players would likely have turned down invitations to play. Protests follow every decision about anything, not unusual. People can agree or disagree, watch the ultimate game or not, follow baseball or not. Up to them. Life is about choices. And there are priorities within and beyond sports.
Obviously, Manfred is an idiot. Stay out of politics and quit messing with the game. Why hurt the people of Atlanta?
With all due respect to you, Manfred was getting ahead of a guaranteed player boycott of the ASG. Politically it is always wise to take the lead where your workers/players are headed. Georgia, Texas, and Arizona know other leagues will keep showcase sporting events from them if they don’t change. It’s been done before.
What Kemp and the defenders never talk about is how the legislature can take over any local election board they want. Or how the secretary of state has been pushed out. That’s pure Jim Crow, and anything to put pressure on them is good trouble.
No matter which side of this debate each of us is on …..let’s all agree not to argue or post our opinions on political subjects. There’s a game today.
Chris Buckingham

We can and we will enjoy the game and all the happiness it brings us today and tomorrow. But there’s always another time for reflection…

The whole “don’t mix Sports with politics” gripe is really tiring. Learn some history.

Author’s Note

There are far too many comments that have been received so that with objectiveness I can’t keep up with them, and therefore include them in this article.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.