The governor of Texas threw a curve at Major League Baseball on Monday by taking the side of the people of Georgia — and every American who supports election integrity.
Only hours before the Texas Rangers’ home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays game was set to begin at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott informed the Texas Rangers he was canceling a commitment to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the game.
Abbott made the decision to protest MLB’s decision to move this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta over new Georgia’s new voting law, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas.
In a Twitter post publicizing his letter to Neil Leibman, the Rangers’ chief operating officer, Abbott wrote that he had been “looking forward” to the pitch — that is, until Major League Baseball “adopted what has turned out be a false narrative” regarding “election reform laws in Georgia.”
“It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics,” Abbott wrote.
I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game until @MLB adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia’s election law reforms.
It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics. pic.twitter.com/pNJApYBHpw
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 5, 2021
Abbott is, of course, referencing MLB’s asinine decision on Friday to move the All-Star Game in light of Georgia’s new “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The bill, signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on March 27, made various changes to voting laws, including tightening rules regarding absentee voting.
Under the new law, for example, voters requesting and returning absentee ballots will be required to present “either your driver’s license number, state ID number” or “a copy of acceptable voter ID” according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Apparently, a state having routine identification requirements for voting is so repugnant to Major League Baseball that, according to a statement by Commissioner Rob Manfred, moving the All-Star Game was the “best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”
Manfred continued, “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. 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.”
This is the false narrative MLB is continuing to push: The idea that voter ID laws somehow limit “fair access” to the voting booth. However, as Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at National Review, wrote in March, a 2019 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research specifically stated that voter ID laws “have no negative effect on registration or turnout.”
Abbott wrote in his letter that it’s “shameful” that MLB is “not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives,” and he’s absolutely right. MLB should not be involving itself with the woke agenda and yet it continues to entrench itself in it.
The governor closed his letter with a declaration that he would “not participate in any event held by MLB,” and that the state of Texas “will not seek to host the All-Star Game or any other special MLB events.”
Most news outlets reporting Abbott’s decision are ignoring how unusual it really is. Turning down an opportunity like the one he was presented with is extremely rare, and the governor should be acknowledged for it.
Throwing the ceremonial first pitch to start off a Major League Baseball team’s season is an honor most politicians would envy, but Abbott has clearly decided to take his own stand for his values, and the values of those he represents.
In the modern political climate, which has seen governors locking their own constituents away while they eat at luxury restaurants and force nursing home patients into unimaginable danger, Abbott is an example of honor.
The Texas governor — who is rarely shy about making his positions known nationally — is also symbolically standing in solidarity with former President Donald Trump, who has spoken out against the MLB decision.
On the same day Manfred announced the All-Star game would be moved, Trump released a statement decrying “woke cancel culture” and called for “Republicans and Conservatives to fight back” by boycotting MLB, among other companies.
“For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them,” Trump’s statement said. “Now they are going big time with WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections. It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back—we have more people than they do—by far! Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck.”
Of course, the market will do its work as the baseball season plays out, proving whether Americans really care about the All-Star Game decision in the first place.
However, it’s still important to let businesses know that the MLB decision is not a good example of corporate behavior.
Thankfully, leaders like Abbott are actively doing as much, and taking the side of a state that took a stand for election integrity.
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