MLB Strikes Out

Take me out of the ballgame

By Cal Thomas

Tribune Content Agency

When the NFL decided not to punish players who kneeled during the pre-game national anthem, some fans reacted by refusing to attend games, buy league merchandise, or watch games on TV.

It took several years for the NFL to win fans back and some — like me — broke the habit and never returned, in person, or on TV.

Last season, some Major League Baseball (MLB) players also took a knee, but it did not appear to me to be as regular an occurrence as with the NFL. Perhaps it had something to do with the difference in the number of games each sport plays? Apparently, though, MLB is now trying to play catch-up.

The commissioner announced last week that the league is moving the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to a yet-to-be-determined location. The stated reason is because MLB believes a new Georgia voting law has made it more difficult for African Americans to vote. The charge has been denied by Gov. Brian Kemp, who has demonstrated he has a backbone by refusing to back down in his support of the law, the purpose of which he claims is to boost voter confidence in the integrity of elections. Those who have reportedly read the law say it doesn’t say what critics claim it does.

Delta Airlines and the Coca-Cola Company, both headquartered in Atlanta and caught between Democrats and Republicans, have appeared to bow to considerable pressure to oppose the voting legislation for fear of bad publicity and widespread boycotts.

Bullies can only be encouraged by these responses. Where are the CEOs and others who have the nerve to stand their ground and oppose people with nothing better to do with their time than to demand the removal of Confederate statues, change the names of highways dedicated to those who held viewpoints they disagree with, and engage in other unproductive behavior, like moving an All-Star game? Why don’t we hear them say “buzz off,” or use even stronger language?

MLB must know there will be financial consequences to their decision. Atlanta employs many African Americans in front offices, at concession stands, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, many of which rely on baseball, especially an All-Star game. Atlanta’s economy will take a hit at a time when the pandemic has hurt many businesses.

A statement by the Atlanta Braves said the organization is “…deeply disappointed by the decision. … This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city. … Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community. Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”

Baseball fans will think they are being taken for granted, as did fans of the NFL. They pay top prices for tickets and contribute to advertising dollars by watching sports broadcasts. They don’t want political correctness forced upon them. Sports are supposed to be an oasis where people can escape from the issues and politicians they have to endure elsewhere.

I have been a baseball fan since I was a child. I fondly remember games my Dad took me to when the Washington baseball team was known as the Senators. I have taken my kids and grandchildren to Nationals games in recent years.

This move by Major League Baseball may prove counterproductive to the brand and potentially harm the fan base. Just as I have found other things to do during football season, I can do likewise when it comes to baseball, as painful as that will be.

Washington baseball fans were forced to exist without a team for 33 years. I suspect the District of Columbia and fans of other teams can do without it if MLB doesn’t reverse course. If not, fans won’t be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but “Take Me Out OF the Ballgame.”

(Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

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2 Comments

  1. Robert Moore on April 7, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Baseball: So I use Delta or Delta Connect to fly to Atlanta for games. When I am at the game, I buy Coca Cola to drink. I have to have an ID to pick up my tickets at the will call window just like I need an ID to fly on Delta or Delta Connect. The new Georgia ID law for voting also fans to fly and attend the games. So why are Delta an Coke against the ID law. Does not make sense. Opponents must not want baseball fans to vote. Hey, isn’t that discrimination?

    Immigration: Long term illegal immigrants deported to their source countries have had a taste of democracy and freedom plus other education and English language skills they may have acquired in the U.S. that can only benefit their source country and spread the support for freedom and democracy. Without their return to their source countries, their source countries are being distilled down to despots and criminals. Failure to deport spreads dictators and tyrants.

    Green Power: Electric utility customers/rate payers are being taken for a ride. Each wind tower represents a minimum $300,000.00 investment that rate payers are stuck with funding for the next thirty years. Only twenty per cent of U.S. dams have a hydroelectric capability. The cost effective way to produce electricity is to power up the eighty per cent that have no capacity now. Next, the Federal Headwater Assessment Program provides funding, construction management, and commissioning services that is covered by a small assessment on rate payers’ electric bills that result in lower rates for all.

  2. Eric Niewoehner on April 8, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Sounds like you and I think alike. I posted my response on April 2nd. We are both long-time fans of the game.

    https://www.ericn.pub/non-fiction/open-letter-to-mlb/

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