The 2021 MLB All-Star Game is scheduled in a state that just passed a Jim Crow voting law. This Just In – It Ain’t No More.
This is what we knew about the status of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game until a few minutes ago:
- MLB is gathering feedback from teams and executives about the status of its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta.
- The discussions follow the passage of Georgia’s new voting law that critics say will effectively reduce Black voter turnout.
- The event is scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park, the Atlanta Braves home field.
- The last two MLB All-Star games generated more than $60 million for cities that hosted the event. (Source: cnbc.com)
It Happens Sometimes…
It happens sometimes in this endeavor that just as you are writing what you believe and hope to be relevant and smack in the middle comes an announcement that makes the theme of the story yesterdays’ news.
That’s what happened here as MLB pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta today.
- Major League Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred announced Friday that the 2021 All-Star Game would no longer be held in Atlanta.
- The decision follows an election bill signed on Wednesday by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, which opponents say disproportionately disenfranchises people of color.
- MLB is still finalizing a new host city, and “details about these events will be announced shortly,” he said. (cnbc.com)
What precipitated MLB’s decision (I believe) still holds relevance to the outcome, and I hope you agree as you continue to read…
The MLB All-Star Game – A Money-Making Enterprise
MLB’s All-Star Game staging is always a highlight of the baseball year for both avid and casual fans. The Home Run Derby attracts as many fans as the game itself, as it allows MLB to showcase up-and-coming talent to our nation.
Almost immediately, the host city becomes a beacon for tourists and business booms through the metroplex.
But for these same reasons, Major League Baseball (MLB) has to be on guard regarding any negative attention that might be thrust on the host city – and by association – also on baseball.
At the Center Of The Controversy…
The center of the building controversy surrounds a bill that the Georgia State Legislature recently passed.
Critics of Georgia’s new voting laws say it will suppress votes, especially among people of color in underserved areas. In an ESPN interview, President Joe Biden criticized the changes, calling it “Jim Crow on steroids.” The president added he would support moving the MLB All-Star Game.
The first wave of protest from a player came from Yankees All-Star Giancarlo Stanton, who offered, “It’d be situations like this, topics like this, to move forward, talk about it (and) get the best game plan to move forward.”
The spokesperson for the Player’s Union told the Boston Globe. “Players are very much aware,” “As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we will look forward to having that conversation.”
But perhaps the strongest form of a threat to the MLB All-Star Game being played in Georgia came from Dave Roberts, manager of the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers when he suggested the possibility of a boycott against the game.
“I will certainly consider it,” the manager of the World Series champion Dodgers said. “I don’t know enough about it right now. But when you’re restricting — trying to restrict — American votes, American citizens, that’s alarming to me to hear it.
As we get to that point and we know more, I will make a better decision. But I do think that if it gets to that point, it will certainly be a decision I have to make personally.”
After all, what would be worse for MLB? Moving the game or having the game in Atlanta with several players, coaches, and umpires? not showing up?
MLB Hears The Ultimate Threat – Corporations
Joining the fray, too, are large corporations. On Wednesday, top Wall Street executives, including Merck’s CEO Ken Frazier, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, and former American Express CEO Ken Chenault, expressed displeasure about the new law.
Delta, it should be noted, has its hub set in the city of Atlanta.
This sets up then as a way for MLB to mask itself from being the sole mover behind moving the game from Georgia, but it doesn’t negate the logistics of MLB having to deal with a move to another city this late in the game.
The league has already printed tickets, made hotel reservations for players and teams in the Atlanta area, booked flights. Fans intent on coming to the MLB All-Star Game likewise have made plans costing upwards of thousands of dollars.
But in the midst of a very public trial underway in Minneapolis in which a white police officer stands accused of murder, can MLB afford to hide its head in the sand?
Accenting the complexity of the issue is the current breakdown of ethnicity in MLB. According to Infogram | MLB Players % by Race: White – 57.5% Hispanic – 31.9% Black – 7.7% (Oct 6, 2020)
On the surface, it stands to reason that the small minority of blacks in the major leagues, assuming they are united in a stand to have the game moved, will need some support from Hispanic and White players.
Throw, for example, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, and Marcel Ozuna into the conversation – and possibly then – the issue take more shape.
MLB Commissioner Manfred – It’s Your Move
In the end, I’m afraid this will fall into the hands of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who will do backflips to ensure the TV revenues from usually high All-Star Game ratings are not lost to the coffers of a $12 billion yearly enterprise.
Add to the mix is the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), who regretfully – understandably (take your pick) have bigger overall fish to fry in December when the current agreement with owners expires.
MLB: The Scene Shifts To Where And What?
Next question – how does MLB seamlessly execute its decision to move the All-Star Game to another city?
First of all, what city in a nation whose cities have yet to be not tarnished by elements of racism and civil rights defamation deserves MLB’s All-Star Game?
Can’t go to Chicago, the scene of police brutality during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Detroit or Los Angeles – where we saw riots and mayhem?
New York City, where Asian citizens are the targets of white supremacists regularly in the city’s subways and streets?
If there is a ballpark nearby to Selma, Alabama, where, for example, Rosa Parks claimed a movement that captured America’s attention – at least for a while – the Selma Cloverleafs played minor league baseball.
That would be undoable, but it should be the quest of MLB to find a suitable location for this year’s All-Star Game.
MLB All-Star Game – A Suggestion To Move On
My suggestion is to play the game in Kansas City, Missouri. The Negro Leagues Baseball Hall Of Fame resides, complete with a live tribute during the game’s national telecast to the all-time greats who preceded the players on the field tonight.
MLB can, and should, open up the pre-game ceremonies for the All-Star Game to an open-mic opportunity for players to say what they feel and want to say.
An opportunity, for example, for a player (black, white, or Hispanic) to say (paraphrasing) – “I’m here as a professional ballplayer. But as a citizen of these United States, I object strenuously to any infringement on the right of any person to vote in an election freely”.
Time will tell, of course, and we’ll see the outcome over the next few weeks as MLB struggles to deal with the backdraft of its decision to move the game.
Only a fly on the wall at MLB headquarters can tell us the reasons behind their decision to move the game from Atlanta, and chances are we’ll never know those discussions among the suits at MLB.
Someday, we need to know the reasons why. But for now, it suffices to say the MLB 2021 season – once again – will be like no other.
As Always, Readers Have Their Views…
No one is reading the legislation. Making racist political statements in this group is not what it is for
Agreed, and this is a deviation from what I usually write about. Hurt as it might, there is a place for journalism of this kind – especially here where I hope true fans of the game gather for discussion about the health of our National Pastime – tomorrow as well as today.