All-Star Game Moved! Should We Praise MLB?

Was moving the All-Star game political?

Does anybody remember the score of last year’s midsummer classic? COVID-19, MLB-0. Despite the NHL, the NBA, and the NFL adjusting and having some resemblance of normal seasons, MLB gave an abbreviated season, with expanded playoffs, no All-Star game, and no minor league seasons.

The last All-Star game was in 2019, in Cleveland, where the AL topped the NL 4-3. The 2020 AL Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber was named the MVP. The All-Star game honored cancer survivors, including a tribute to then-Cleveland pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The City of Cleveland was highlighted and praised for how well they handled the All-Star events.

Coming into 2021, MLB surely is looking at the July 2021 All-Star game as a chance to shine a good light on the game, the players, and the venue where the All-Star game takes place. Then MLB ran into a problem. The Atlanta Braves’ new home, Truist Park, is in the state of Georgia.

Recently the Georgia state legislators enacted new state voting laws. The laws are praised by some to bring voting integrity. Others, including President Joe Biden, have likened the new laws to Jim Crow. These laws have led some Georgia-based businesses, including Coca-Cola and Delta to condemn the laws with the Delta CEO saying, “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie.”

Eight days after Georgia enacted the new laws, MLB announced the All-Star game—and the Amateur draft—will be moved to a different, undetermined city.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star game.” He added, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said in a statement, “Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism and liberal lies. Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included.”

To the credit of MLB, they will continue to support the community with the All-Star Legacy Project. MLB will also honor the late Hank Aaron, as they had planned.

Does MLB deserve praise for its political position? Scorn for giving in to political pressure?

Nope. This decision wasn’t political.

It may appear that way, but politics had only a small part to play with this decision. Like most things around the business of baseball, it was capitalism that cost Georgia the All-Star game. Add that in with some outright terrible timing by Georgia.

Last year, George Floyd, an African American man, was killed during an arrest. As many people watched and recorded, an officer knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. This led to a large Black Lives Matter movement during the months following. Many businesses, including MLB, proclaimed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

In MLB, this led to The Players Alliance, a group of current and former MLB players focused on social issues. Commissioner Manfred cited this group as somebody he talked to when making his decision. The Players Association wanted to discuss the possibility of moving the game, but the game was moved even before the union could vote on the matter. Yes, this decision was made with only minor input from the players. This, certainly, was more of a business decision.

The new laws in Georgia forced the hands of businesses that supported the Black Lives Matter movement last year. It was time to put up or shut up. While over 150 businesses have condemned the law, MLB was the first one to put any real economic pain behind that condemnation. But as Atlanta Mayor Kieshah Lance Bottoms predicts, this is “likely the first of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”

MLB has to worry about how their sponsors are approaching the political hot potato Georgia has passed around. Corporations in Georgia are feeling the heat to comment on the law from both sides of the political aisle. Companies that felt relatively safe could, with the association of MLB and the All-Star game, be pulled into having to comment. Despite political leanings, it is fair to say that companies would prefer to avoid the situation and have told MLB this. Removing sponsorship to a game in Georgia would be easily justifiable and an overall smart strategy.

Why?

Beyond the added pressure of deciding to stand behind your support of the Black Lives Movement when racially charged laws are being questioned, there is the issue of the trial related to George Floyd’s death.

There is a powder keg waiting in Minneapolis. The verdict most certainly will bolster the BLM movement, either validating the protests or leading to further cries of injustice. Either way, having an All-Star game in Georgia is too much of a risk for most corporation’s marketing teams. This, I am sure, triggered the corporation sponsorship issues cited in Manford’s statement.

The game was moved, mainly, because of the bottom line. It certainly was going to cost MLB and companies involved with the events money. The best way to reduce that cost was to move the game while still supporting the community and saluting Hank Aaron. I guess that MLB will try to move the game to Milwaukee.

While I applauded MLB for making the decision and there certainly is political motivation behind it, in the words of Deep Throat: “follow the money.” The potential cost, given the importance of the All-Star game this year, forced MLB’s hand.

While Major League Baseball can usually weather keeping politics out of baseball, they can’t keep business out of baseball.

 

Photo by apardavila on Flickr | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mat Kovach

Despite being an Indians fan in the late 70's I grew to love baseball. I started throwing spitballs when I was 10 and have been fascinated with competitive shenanigans in baseball ever since.

  • Avatar Mick says:

    Read Orwell and Huxley and Solzhenitsyn and Jefferson then come talk about your perspective. Socialism doesn’t win fair elections, not in Venezuela and not here.

    • Avatar Bill says:

      Somehow every Western European country requires a picture ID to vote…are we to expect any less from Americans? Are we to believe that Americans do not have picture ID’s to drive cars, cash checks, get on a plane, pick up a prescription at a pharmacy, be granted a social security check, request unemployment benefits, or vote as member of a union?

      Is this really discrimination to request people to identify who they are prior to voting? Is it discrimination to request an ID when boarding a plane? This is political and also about money. What MLB has forgotten is that most of us watch sports as an escape from politics and other things.

      I have cancelled my MLB At Bat subscription and am not going to attend any baseball games this summer. Did anyone notice the NBA ratings went into the tank after they got political last summer? People want their sports to be free of politics. We just want to watch a sporting event without having to deal with politics or anything else, but the game.

      I enjoy the pitcher list articles and website, but would also implore your site to write about baseball only…that’s what the people that read your articles come here for.

      Thank you.

      • Avatar plan9fromouterspace says:

        ‘I enjoy the pitcher list articles and website, but would also implore your site to write about baseball only…that’s what the people that read your articles come here for.’

        Bingo, well said!

      • Avatar Mark Antoch says:

        The legislation includes provisions making it harder to vote absentee and, most importantly, changing the state’s oversight process for elections. No longer will the secretary of state be a voting member of the State Election Board, for example, with the heavily Republican legislature choosing the head of that body and being able to replace county-level elections administrators. If the new system had been in place in November, the five-person State Election Board could have been led by a “nonpartisan” official chosen by Republican lawmakers. The board could have removed elections administrators in heavily Democratic counties and replaced them with ones more amenable to Trump’s bogus fraud claims. Surprise, surprise, Trump then somehow wins. Keep talking about the ID issue though which is a pimple compared to the backroom rigging they are trying to do.

        • Avatar Travis L Brown says:

          It limits absentee because it should. The expansion of absentee was put in place “because of COVID”, as everyone has conveniently forgot, and now all of the sudden it’s about race. There’s no reason to vote absentee unless you are serving, or have some sort of disability. Outside of that you need to have a valid reason for doing it other than “I don’t want to go in and vote in person”….which is still completely allowed. As a matter of fact they EXPANDED early voting days. It’s typical government crap. Get an inch for one reason, then make up some other reason so they can take a mile.

      • Avatar Tom says:

        Very well said, Bill

  • Avatar Travis L Brown says:

    They caved to blackmail, by politically motivated sponsors, which highlights what is wrong with the league in the first place. Garbage leadership. You talk about “business” and “follow the money”, but don’t even consider the impact this could have on the fans who pay and watch the game….the most important part of the league. Shows you where their priorities lie.

  • Avatar J.R. Caines says:

    Great article.

    As society moves towards justice, its economics will do the same. Companies and organizations are motivated by money, for sure, but money will follow the passions, ideals, and beliefs of the society (for better or for worse).

    This was the right thing to happen regardless of the reasoning.

    • Avatar plan9fromouterspace says:

      ‘As society moves towards justice’

      Please explain how ‘justice’ is in any way involved ? Have you or the author read the bill? Are you saying that ‘justice’ is defined as letting our election system erode by allowing voter fraud?

      You do realize that MLB just recently expanded a contract with Chinese firm Tencent. If the MLB made decisions based on ‘justice’, perhaps they would have thought twice about continuing a relationship with a foreign company that blocked NBA games because a GM made positive comments concerning pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

      The decision by the MLB has nothing to do with ‘justice’, and conflating the opposition to this bill with ‘racism’ is inherently incorrect and/or ignorant.

      • Avatar Jack says:

        Voter fraud is a virtually nonexistent problem and this bill was created not to fix a non issue, but to target methods of voting favored by Black voters like early and mail in voting, as well as to make it harder for them to wait in the long lines that they are disproportionally subjected to

        • Avatar omar says:

          “Voter fraud is a virtually nonexistent problem”

          You obviously aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in Arizona.

  • Avatar Steve says:

    My first comment every on this site, which I enjoy reading about fantasy baseball. You should probably rethink posting this opinion piece, it’s completely devoid of facts and actual substance and instead pushes a socialist ideology, blame capitalism, re-enforce lies and falsehoods about a bill that the author of this opinion or few have bothered to learn about and instead parrot and push a political agenda detached from facts about the topic. Stick to baseball, or cut your audience in half (or greater). As someone who’s family was destroyed by marxist socialist movement overseas, I have little tolerance for people that push it. I’m actually pretty disgusted you guys stopped to this level. Hopefully you will reconsider and use your better judgement to slide this piece of the site.

  • Avatar Mario says:

    Good article explaining that there is more at play than just politics.

  • Avatar Eccentric Chemist says:

    It is shocking how many writers are socialist idiots, but I guess that is what happens when they learn horrible standards in the university system from leftist professors pushing an agenda rather than looking at the facts and making a proper evaluation.

    This is a baseball site, so stick to baseball opinions, if you want to talk about politics go apply to the leftist rags of huff post or vox.

  • Avatar CaptainNoodle says:

    ‘This is a baseball site, so stick to baseball opinions, if you want to talk about politics go apply to the leftist rags of huff post or vox.’

    Amen to that…..

    Yes, MLB likely made a BAD decision by implicitly siding with those who wish to undermine secure, fair, elections. The Georgia law should be applauded, and if the MLB is trying to gain financially from this in some way, it could likely backfire as more fans abandon live attendance and broadcast subscriptions.

  • Avatar Mario says:

    Look at all the snowflake conservatives getting “triggered” here

  • PitcherList is one of the top baseball-related websites out there and I’m happy to see them write about whatever the hell they want to write about.

    Businesses and organizations make decisions based on what they believe is best for their bottom line and MLB is simply following the path of plenty of other businesses who have made “political” decisions on both the left and right for decades. I agree the GA voter bill isn’t quite as bad as some on the left say it is (after most of the worst parts of the legislation were removed) but it’s still based on The Big Lie and will make it more difficult for some folks to vote without any real justification. I’d love to see all government leaders in the US do everything possible to make it easier to vote as long as there continues to be zero evidence of significant voter fraud.

  • Avatar Jim says:

    I am sure you guys feel like you “have to” publish an article like this because this was an MLB news story and you are a baseball website, but this is a fantasy baseball site, it’s not Yahoo Sports or The Athletic. People come to your page looking for fantasy news.

    Having said that I expected to disagree with everything here but you make some good points. But I think saying it was not political but “capitalism” that forced them to move it just lazy. Whether I agree with their decision or not your point that it was based on financial reasons is probably correct. Although, I think moving a major event will hurt a lot of the businesses that were depending on incoming tourism money that comes along with such a huge event. You can make an argument that cities shouldn’t be ponying up the kind of tax dollars that are needed to lure an ASG type of event, but there’s a lot of workers, cab drivers, vendors etc. that depend on these types of opportunities to get paid – and a lot of those people probably fall within the demographic that MLB claims they are supporting (even Stacey Abrams made the same argument).

    Now they have to find another city to host, one with I guess different voting laws? So if they plan on only hosting their events in cities that they feel present the kinds of favorable policies they are looking for, their options are going to start to dwindle. 47 out of 50 states are working on passing new voting laws.

    • Avatar Jake Hogan says:

      Why are people so afraid of new Georgia law? If you only vote once and get free ID picture then why care. If anyone stops to think only the illegal voter is mad.

  • Avatar Jack says:

    All these clowns complaining about this article would be mad about a special Jackie Robinson call up piece if they were alive in 1947

  • Avatar duder says:

    Reading this comment thread where all the snowflake Trumpers have come out of the woodwork makes me… happy. I like to imagine that it’s these doofuses that are giving me their money in pro leagues every year.

    • Avatar omar says:

      Jokes on you, bud. MLB moved the game to Coors field. Pete Coors is a Trump supporter and fund raiser. And Colorado has stricter voting laws than Georgia. Clown world.

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