Caving to the woke mob has become as American as baseball.
Last week, Major League Baseball moved its annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia, in protest of a bill aimed to protect election integrity. The bill, signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, was denounced by partisans such as former Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams as “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”
Of course, this wasn’t true. Even the Washington Post said that the law’s “net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.” But that didn’t stop Democratic politicians such as former President Barack Obama from praising the MLB for supposedly, “taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens.” President Joe Biden joined the fray, saying he would “strongly support” players pressuring the league to move the game.
Professional sports joining the progressive mob is not news, but there’s something particularly troubling about baseball joining the fray.
Baseball is so American it’s almost a cliché to say so. Like so many people, I have fond ballpark memories. As a born and raised Ohioan, going to a Cincinnati Reds game with my family for Labor Day was a pre-COVID-19 tradition.
But my baseball fandom is more for the sport itself than an individual team. (Although besides the Reds, I do slightly prefer the Oakland Athletics because of the movie Moneyball.) Baseball holds a sentimental value for me. And I’m not the only one.
There’s something unifying about cheering for your favorite team with others, even if that team is your favorite only for the three-hour game. People who on any other day would have little in common with each other put aside partisan politics, and sit together in a crowded ballpark, overpriced Pepsi in hand. Political commentator George F. Will put it well: “Baseball is Heaven’s gift to mortals.”
Some baseball players took a knee last year during the national anthem as part of protests associated with Black Lives Matter, but those were political expressions of individual players. As a league, the MLB itself has avoided making political statements.
But now MLB as a whole is in the business of political opinion. For many baseball fans, the All-Star Game will lose its appeal. As fans — many of them with politics that are right-of-center — watch the best players of the American and National Leagues compete in Denver in July, the implicit message will be clear: You’re a racist if you liked Georgia Senate Bill 202. Andrew McCarthy of National Review said that while he is “too addicted to the love affair I’ve had with baseball for 55 years to say I won’t watch it anymore,” he will watch it “considerably less.” And many others will share his disillusion.
As former President Donald Trump pointed out in a press release, baseball has been having a problem with attracting new fans for a while.
But alienating nearly half its base isn’t the way to improve that metric.
Seventy-five million Americans voted for Trump, and many of them are the average guy or gal sitting in the ballpark bleachers. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑Texas) tweeted a list of MLB sponsors — sponsors which included Bank of America, Chevrolet, and Google — who pressured the league to move the game out of Georgia. “Are all of them willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party?” the senator asked. I hope not.
Don’t trade “Take me out to the ball game, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks,” for, “Take me out to the ball game, but first I need to know if you think voter ID is racist.”
Sarah Weaver is pursuing a master’s degree in the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship.