Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Games provide the players (and presumably some fans) a much-needed break. The 2021 MLB All-Star Game, however, has been surrounded by controversy spanning both the sports and political worlds.
2021 MLB All-Star Game: Caught in a Web of Controversy
After losing the 2020 MLB All-Star Game due to the pandemic, the 2021 MLB All-Star Game was scheduled to be played in Atlanta, Georgia (Truist Park) this year, but recent political events sent MLB reeling, as the sport’s players, owners, and top-brass scrambled to avoid a public relations nightmare. Covid-19 concerns again? No. Some sort of wrongdoing by the Braves organization? Not even close. This is purely political.
After a presidential election that saw (and continues to see) allegations of voter fraud, the state of Georgia passed a law this week, designed to curtail alleged improprieties by voters. While most Americans would applaud measures to ensure a fair and proper electoral system, Georgia’s new law appears to have serious racial overtones and severe consequences for some minority voters.
The text and context of the law can be found in the link provided above. I will not provide an opinion here, but rather, will objectively report on the circumstances surrounding MLB and its reaction to the law. Whether you agree or disagree is a matter of drawing your own conclusions and opinions. Perception is reality. While some see nothing wrong with the law, a substantial amount of Americans view it as a blatant disregard for the rights of minority voters, coupled with obvious racism.
The 2021 MLB All-Star Game and MLB’s Decision to Move it
Due to the political pressure surrounding the situation, MLB has now elected to move the game away from Atlanta, to show solidarity with minority players and voters who have been directly or indirectly impacted by this law. The MLBPA (players union), along with several teams, has also announced that it would stand by MLB’s decision.
Ironically, the game is set to be played on July 13, 2021, just days after the 57th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed (July 2, 1964).
Sports should be an opportunity to escape from politics and the problems our world faces, but instead, the two are constantly crossing paths. The most memorable instance of this in recent years was probably the 1990s steroid scandal, which resulted in congressional hearings. Unlike the steroid scandal, MLB wasn’t directly involved in the current political mayhem, however, to hold the game in Atlanta would – right or wrong – signify to many that MLB was turning a blind eye to alleged racism by the U.S. government.
To further complicate the issue, MLB also feared the possibility of a boycott by those elected to play on the All-Star teams. Baseball has been fighting optics issues for several years now, and to take this one on the chin wasn’t going to be an option.
What a mess.
2021 MLB All-Star Game: The Possible Solutions
After losing last year’s All-Star Game to the pandemic, MLB wasn’t about to cancel for the second year in a row, and many sports books like LeoVegas Canada doubled down on the game moving forward. Multiple reports came out on Saturday (4/3/2021) which initially led fans to believe that the game would be played in Milwaukee, Chicago, or Kansas City.
Shortly after Olney’s tweet was issued, Nick Groke (Rockies beat writer for The Athletic) broke the news that Coors Field in Denver was the likely recipient of this year’s game. The Rockies’ first and only opportunity to host an All-Star Game came on July 7, 1998.
Coors Field isn’t a bad option to host the event, especially when it comes to the Home Run Derby, but it’s exceptionally disturbing that the current state of affairs in this country has forced MLB into a position to have to make this move.
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