Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent on Tuesday said the decision to lower baseball into the swamp of divisive politics was a “serious mistake.”
Vincent, who served as commissioner from 1989 to 1992, made his comments in an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred acted to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta after Democrats howled their criticisms of an election integrity law passed by Georgia. Those criticisms were echoed by President Joe Biden, who said in an interview last week he would “strongly support” efforts to move the game in protest of the voting law, which he called “Jim Crow on steroids.”
The All-Star Game will now be played at Coors Field in Denver, which has sparked comparisons of Colorado’s voting laws with those of Georgia.
‘”Georgia has 17 days of in-person early voting including two optional Sundays, Colorado has 15,” Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said, according to Fox News. “So what I’m being told, they also have a photo ID requirement. So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
Georgia: Voter ID, 17 days of early voting.
Colorado: Voter ID, 15 days of early voting.
Atlanta is 51% Black.
Denver is 9.2% Black.
The Wokes are at it again, folks.
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) April 6, 2021
By moving the All-Star game, Vincent said, baseball must now pick one side over the other in the partisan debate over voting when it does not even belong in the middle of the duel.
“Mr. Manfred failed to spell out specific criticisms of Georgia’s voting law,” he wrote. “Now he’s put himself in the awkward position of having to defend Colorado’s voting laws.”
The former commissioner wondered how baseball can endorse some claims of racism and reject others.
“If Georgia is racist, how can baseball talk of doing business with China?” Vincent wrote.
But above all, he said, baseball should not be tainted with the brush of partisanship.
“Major League Baseball can’t become a weapon in the culture wars, a hostage for one political party or ideology,” he wrote. “It can’t be only for the rich or the poor, nor can it only be for one race, as it was until 1947.
“Baseball must always stand above politics and its dark elements of corruption, greed and sordid selfishness. It can’t go wrong by standing for national greatness.”
Vincent said that as commissioner, “I learned that the American people view baseball as a public trust.”
Americans do not want the game used as a pawn, he wrote, but to “stand for the best and noblest of our national virtues.”
“They see baseball as the repository of their dreams, even as they root for their favorite teams. They don’t want, and won’t accept, anything that separates them from the game’s history and leadership,” the former commissioner wrote.
Vincent noted that the decision harms the people of Georgia and no one else.
“The midsummer All-Star Game is an exhibition that benefits only the city where it’s played,” he wrote. “It was reported Tuesday morning that Denver will be the new host.
“The players will get paid no matter where the game takes place. MLB will get the same television revenue.
“The only people hurt by Mr. Manfred’s decision will be Atlanta’s stadium workers and local vendors.”
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