Major League Baseball joined the American political animus with the decision to move its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. This comes just more than three months before its stars were to gather July 13 for the 91st All-Star Game.
MLB did not specify to which city it’d relocate the All-Star Game. Atlanta was awarded this game on May 30, 2019 in apparent celebration of the opening of a new stadium.
In moving the game out of Atlanta, MLB said the Voting Bill the state of Georgia’s governor signed into law motivated the decision.
MLB hit significant talking points echoed by the Democratic party alleging the voting law will disproportionately affect citizens of color.
On March 26, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation passed by both state houses to overhaul state elections. The law seeks to block vulnerabilities in the US elections and prevent any party from exploiting them to their advantage. These include voter ID requirements, reforming voting by mail, and other absentee balloting efforts.
Commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday said relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft is the “best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box, “Manfred said in a statement.
According to Manfred, “over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views.”
But Georgia’s governor Kent condemned MLB’s decision, describing it as a direct result of “repeated lies from President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections.”
“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” said Kemp in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
He urged Georgians and all Americans to fully understand what the “MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”
“I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections. Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision.”
In a statement, the Braves said they were “deeply disappointed” by MLB’s decision and that 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.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called the bill “sick” and “un-American” and on March 31 told ESPN he would support MLB moving its Midsummer Classic out of Atlanta.
The All Star Game is a three-day festival of baseball that includes the July 11 Futures Game, July 12 Home Run Derby and dozens of fan-focused events.
This year’s game was to honor Braves legend Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record in 1974 and remains an American icon; Aaron died Jan. 22 at age 86.
Stacey Abrams, a Democratic former Georgia gubernatorial candidate tweeted her support for MLB’s decision.
“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” Abrams wrote. “I urge others in positions of the leadership to do so as well.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said she supports MLB’s decision. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All-Star Game from Georgia is likely the first of many dominoes to fall until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Bottoms said in a statement.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has lobbied Rob Manfred to bring the All Star Game to American Family Field in Milwaukee.
“As you review alternative sites for the game, I ask you to consider Milwaukee,” Barrett wrote in his letter. “It is a particularly appropriate location to honor Hank Aaron, who is a revered and beloved former Milwaukeean. He started and concluded his Major League career with teams here.