Baseball and Politics Have Always Been Intertwined

Since last week, when Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred decided to strip Atlanta of the 2021 All-Star Game due to Georgia’s newly-passed discriminatory voting laws, those opposed to this move have launched thousands of idiotic tweets, ridiculous press releases, and angry op-ed’s decrying the decision. Most of these call for something stupid like a boycott or they trash baseball (hey, it isn’t for everyone). But the worst, and absolute laziest takes on this whole situation is that somehow politics got mixed up with baseball. Or is it baseball getting mixed up with politics? (Reminds me of this, to be honest). Either way, this line of inanity, which generally comes from voices on the right who can’t imagine corporations doing anything but their bidding, has seeped into the writings of far too many sportswriters, as if a collective amnesia has befallen them and dispossessed them of their ability to process anything more than box scores, draft rankings, and contractual details.

Whether we like it or not, politics has been intertwined in sports in general, and baseball specifically, for years, so please I hope that people stop with the tired narrative that they need to stay separate. These folks never piped up to whine about politics infecting sports when MLB was granted antitrust protection, or it excluded black and Latino players from the sport entirely, or when rich, white owners tried to break the union (1972). And tried again (1981). And then tried again (1994). Or when rich, white team owners extorted billions of dollars in tax revenue from cities for gleaming new ballparks in order to keep a team there. Or when MLB lobbied Congress to ensure minor league ballplayers wouldn’t be subject to minimum wage laws. Or when MLB decided to ax 40 minor league teams in the face of major opposition from Congress. That’s all politics. But now, when issues facing minority players, or minority fans come up…suddenly, politics should be out of sports? C’mon, that’s ridiculous.

Politics is a part of life each and every day. It affects all of us, all of the time. The world of baseball is no different. It is time that we realize that salient fact in order to protect the interests that matter most to us all, not just to the millionaires and billionaires that populate the sport.

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