In the days following Major League Baseball’s move of its All-Star Game from Atlanta due to onerous voting regulations passed by state legislators and signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, the league and others supporting the game’s relocation faced a multi-platform fusillade of criticism that might be alarming, were it not so amusing.
From the halls of Congress to the cries of despair from fevered keyboard warriors frothing from their Facebook feeds, the vocal minority have shouted in unison:
That Major League Baseball is now an ultra-liberal, commie-loving cabal.
That it has capitulated to “wokeness,” a term already appropriated and mangled into disfigurement from its original meaning.
That they shall never throw out a first pitch or attend a game again, so long as … so long as … Augusta National member Rob Manfred is still running the league.
The arguments are thin, the attacks scarcely rooted in reality and they are particularly absurd for anyone who’s spent a few minutes around the game.
Just who, exactly, is this woke mob within “The MLB?”
Is it the players, whose clubhouse tables are often crowded with copies of Guns & Ammo and Field & Stream, and whose less-than-overwhelming acceptance of a vaccine that could preserve their season suggest an ideological lean away from the left?
Is it the executives, many who run their teams with a bloodless efficiency that would make the Wal-Mart empire blush?
Is it the owners, whose political contributions – even to the fringiest of politicians – are hiding in plain sight and give a fair indication which way they lean?
No, baseball remains plenty conservative. And it is clear their more rigorous embrace of social justice initiatives in the past year are not only on the right side of history but also, simply, good business.
A view of Truist Park in Atlanta. (Photo: Jason Getz,USA TODAY Sports)
Consider the “corporate champions” standing alongside MLB in its rebuke of Georgia’s voting laws: Delta, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup.
Not exactly Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.
As the corporate “mob” grows in voicing its disapproval, it becomes easier to understand how Manfred’s at the time stunning decision to move the game out of Georgia was executed swiftly and unilaterally.
So the game found a new home in Denver, and the league readied for the triggered indignation of the right, and now, nearly a week out, it is clear the blowback is nothing MLB can’t handle.
The national GOP? Reduced largely to Red-Baiting 101 and a silly conflation of ticket purchasing and voting rights, even as defections in its ranks rise.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? He issued a “warning to corporate America to stay out of politics,” yet immediately begged they continue giving money, you know, to him.
The unofficial mainstream media arm of the right?
A Fox News query to White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday, claiming voting regulations in Colorado, the new site of the All-Star Game, were similar to Georgia’s, was parried in less than 60 seconds. One might call it Psaki “dunking” on Fox News, but it was too easy.
See where this is going?
The furor will subside, and any notion of the game ever existing in Atlanta may drown in a chorus of oohs and ahhs from a Home Run Derby held at mile-high Coors Field.
Baseball survived through a half-century where it first barred Black players from the game, then faced blowback and boycotts and threats when it dared allow Jackie Robinson to play. It survived Jose Feliciano’s national anthem, a no-hitter thrown under the influence of hallucinogenics and the designated hitter.
A poorly-plotted and increasingly fringy culture war?
That’s a fight MLB knew it could, and will win.
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