Claiming its “values” are at stake, Major League Baseball announced Friday it is moving the 2021 All-Star Game and 2021 draft from Atlanta in protest of a new Georgia election-integrity law that critics claim discriminates against minorities.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement the league is “finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.”
“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,” 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 and MLB Draft.”
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill, reacted to the announcement, charging Major League Baseball “caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies.”
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included,” said Kemp.
“If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”
Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, called out MLB for accusing Georgia of human-rights violations while partnering with the communist nations of Cuba and China.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced a huge deal with China’s biggest tech company, Tencent, to stream 125 games this season, including the All-Star Game. Tencent, which boasts more than 1 billion active users, also has deals with the NBA, the NFL and the NHL.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said on Twitter he’s instructed his staff to begin drafting legislation to remove Major League Baseball’s federal antitrust exception.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, commented, asking why MLB still has antitrust immunity.
“It’s time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations—especially those that punish their political opponents,” he wrote.
The Atlanta Braves organization, which was hosting the All-Star Game, issued a statement saying it is “deeply disappointed by the decision.”
“Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision,” the statement said.
The Braves statement regarding the moving of the MLB All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/0Iapm3eIre
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 2, 2021
Abrams, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Georgia governor but since has become a prominent voting-rights activist, also was “disappointed” by the decision but said she was “proud” of MLB’s “stance on voting rights.”
Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression. On behalf of PoC targeted by #SB202 to lose votes + now wages, I urge events & productions to come & speak out or stay & fight. #gapol
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) April 2, 2021
The newly elected far-left Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock of Georgia also expressed disappointment.
“It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community,” he said in a statement.
The three-day All-Star Game event was expected to generate between $37 million and $190 million in economic impact for the Atlanta area and its businesses, according to Cobb County Finance Director Bill Volckmann.
Biden: ‘Jim Crow on steroids’
The MLB announcement comes after President Biden endorsed moving the All-Star Game, calling the Georgia law “Jim Crow on steroids.”
In an interview with ESPN and in statements to media, Biden has repeated the false claim that the new law prohibits food and drink at polling places and mandates the polls close at 5 p.m.
The Georgia law does implement restrictions distributing food and drink near polling places, but they are similar to restrictions in Biden’s home state of Delaware and other states. The intent is to prevent lobbyists from influencing voters. The law does not ban voters from bringing or ordering food. And poll workers are allowed to set out self-service water stations and distribute food donated for general use.
And the law does not change change voting hours. In fact, it expands voting access for most state residents. It also adds ID requirements for mail-in votes and restricts the use of ballot drop boxes, which were introduced in the 2020 election.
The Washington Post fact-checker on Tuesday gave Biden its maximum five “Pinocchios” for his statements. Biden repeated the claims, nevertheless, in an interview Thursday with ESPN.
Black voters support voter ID
Democrats long have charged that voter ID requirements are racist, contending they disproportionately affect blacks and other minorities. That’s a notion – the idea they don’t have a photo ID or are less capable of obtaining one – that many black leaders have condemned as patronizing and racist in itself.
In fact, a recent Ramussen survey found 69% of likely black voters favor voter ID laws. Only 21% are opposed to such a requirement. And overall, 75% of U.S. likely voters support voter ID laws.
In his statement, the commissioner said Major League Baseball “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
On Wednesday, Georgia’s Republican-majority House voted to remove a multi-million dollar jet fuel tax for Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company’s CEO released a memo to employees calling the new voting laws an “excuse” to “restrict voting rights.”
Jeff Blehar, the co-host of the National Review podcast “Political Beats,” said that, unlike most people, he’s read the law, and it actually expands ballot access, with “sensible safeguards.”
Describing himself as a “friendly RINO,” or Republican in name only, the attorney wrote on Twitter that the media coverage of the law was “pure misinfo.”
“MLB moved the All-Star Game anyway,” he said.
“I’m the last person in any given room to want to admit that it’s a culture war, but it’s a culture war now.”
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