Major League Baseball acts on Georgia voting suppression law

JAIME C. HARRIS | 4/8/2021, midnight
Major League Baseball, which has a history rooted in racial discrimination, took a hard stand against voter suppression in Georgia ...
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball, which has a history rooted in racial discrimination, took a hard stand against voter suppression in Georgia by moving this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado.

In response to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signing SB 202 into law March 25 at the state Capitol flanked by six white men, with a portrait of the Callaway Plantation, where more than 100 people of African descent had been enslaved serving as a disturbing backdrop, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced last Friday the showcase, long referred to as the Midsummer Classic, would not be held at Truist Park, the Atlanta Braves home stadium. On Tuesday, the league confirmed the July game would take place at Coors Field in Denver.

“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” stated Manfred. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred elaborated. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Consisting of 53 sections and 2,247 provisions, SB 202 among other restrictive measures limits easy access drop boxes, further constrains voting by mail through repressive voter-ID requirements, and makes it a crime to provide food and water to people standing in line waiting to cast a ballot.

Despite the disingenuous claims of Kemp and other lawmakers that put forth the narrative the law’s intent is to ensure the integrity and legitimacy of elections, it is manifestly specifically aimed at Black voters in some of Georgia’s largest predominantly Black counties, who were the collective driving force behind the victories of Democratic U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in runoff elections this past January.

Furthermore, Kemp and Warnock are up for re-election next year, so Republicans both in Georgia and nationally are seeking to retain the governorship and unseat Warnock employing voter suppression as a vehicle.

“Whether the game stayed in Atlanta or it was going to potentially be moved out of Atlanta, there were going to be a lot of people that were going to be disappointed at the decision,” said former Mets and Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson in an interview last weekend on the CNN show “New Day.”

The retired Granderson, who played for seven teams from 2004 to 2019, is the president of The Players Alliance, an organization of current and former Black players that has a stated mission of “building equitable systems in order to change the trajectory of diversity throughout baseball” as promoted on its website.

“I commend Rob Manfred for reaching out to different individuals,” Granderson continued, “different entities, different groups, including The Players Alliance, to gauge and get a pulse of where everybody was at. I think all that went into him making that decision, which he ultimately did.

“When you really take a look at it, if you don’t stand up for this situation, there’s going to be continued domino effects of more and more things that ultimately come about from the situation.”