Major League Baseball announced it would “relocate” both the All-Star Game and 2021 draft from Atlanta and said its values oppose “ballot box restrictions” after US President Joe Biden endorsed one had signaled such a step.
“I’ve decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is to move this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft,” said League Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. , on Friday.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes ballot box restrictions,” added Manfred, saying the decision was made after “thoughtful discussions” with member teams, players and others.
Here is the full version from MLB. Commission Rob Manfred’s money line: “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes ballot box restrictions.” pic.twitter.com/3tghCUDM47
– Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 2, 2021
The draft was supposed to start on July 11th and end on July 13th when the Atlanta Braves were supposed to host the All-Star game. The game would also pay tribute to Hank Aaron, an African American gamer who later became a Braves legend and passed away in January. A new location for the draft and all-star game is to be announced.
The MLB move comes under pressure from business and Democrats – including Biden – to punish Georgia for the electoral reform bill passed last month.
“This is Jim Crow in the 21st century,” Biden said after the state passed the 2021 Electoral Integrity Act in late March, referring to the nickname for infamous segregation laws against African Americans.
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Democrats accused the Republican majority of Georgian lawmakers of racism, saying the law sought to “suppress” African American (and mostly Democratic) voters by asking for photo identification, restricting postal voting, and early voting and counting deadlines of voting slips standardized. They also said the law criminalizes giving food and water to queued voters and closes polling stations early.
Neither of these things is true – according to, admittedly discreet – fact-checking in multiple mainstream media outlets that still insist that the voter ID is by definition racist and that Republicans in many states aim to “suppress” votes.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has denied that Biden was calling for a boycott or pressuring MLB to move the game out of Atlanta but “convey” that he would certainly support it if such a decision were made.
MLB isn’t the only company getting involved in Georgian politics. Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, also based in Atlanta, have spoken out publicly against the law after Democratic activists threatened a boycott.
In Friday’s statement, Manfred stated that MLB was the “first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance,” an allegedly non-partisan organization of over 1,000 companies committed to “strengthening our democracy”.
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In a statement on Friday, the alliance denounced “obstacles that create longer queues for elections or reduce access to secure ballot boxes” and said it stands in “solidarity with the electorate – and with black leaders and leaders at the top.” Movement – in our impartial commitment to equality and democracy. “
The same outfit declared on Jan. 7 that there was “no doubt about the integrity of the 2020 elections” and that the results were “determined by the will of the electorate, endorsed by each state and upheld by the courts”.
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