Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to protest Georgia’s new voting law by moving this year’s All-Star Game out of the black majority city of Atlanta, Georgia to the overwhelmingly white majority city of Denver, Colorado. In explaining his decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that it was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.” The only “value” Manfred demonstrated with this scandalous decision was his organization’s cowardice in bowing to the social justice warriors who run today’s cancel culture.
“Yesterday, Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists,” Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp said at a news conference the day after the announcement of Major League Baseball’s decision. He bemoaned MLB’s willingness to sacrifice “the economic well-being of hard-working Georgians who were counting on the All-Star Game for a paycheck.”
Atlanta is ranked the 5th best city for black-owned businesses in the country out of 124 cities studied by the career resource website Overheard on Conference Call. MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game to Denver, which ranks 106th in the study, hurts thousands of black business owners and their employees. Placating President Joe Biden and his progressive left base with a show of wokeness was more important than providing actual economic benefits to blacks and other minorities in and around the city of Atlanta.
All-Star Games generate an average of $84.4 million a year in additional economic activity in the host city, according to MLB data. Manfred’s virtue-signaling will cost thousands of black and other minority-owned businesses in the Atlanta area millions of dollars in lost revenue. The owner of the Atlanta area restaurant, Tudy Rodney of Rodney’s Jamaican Soul Food, is just one example of a person of color directly impacted by MLB’s move of the All-Star Game. “We’re trying to build back from a pandemic that happened last year, and something like this is not good for business,” said Tudy Rodney, whose restaurant is near the Atlanta Braves’ ballpark. “Rodney’s will suffer.”
Commissioner Manfred sanctimoniously declared in his All-Star Game statement that “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” If that were so, then why choose Colorado as MLB’s alternative to Georgia? Colorado has its own voting restrictions including voter ID requirements. And while Georgia’s new law expanded early in-person voting to 17 days, including two optional Sundays, Colorado provides 15 days for early in-person voting. Neither state limits absentee voting only to those furnishing a permissible excuse to vote by mail. Colorado does automatically send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state while Georgia will send absentee ballots out only upon request. However, this should not be surprising considering that Colorado has far more experience running elections by mail than Georgia does and has approximately 3 million less registered voters to whom to automatically mail ballots.
The marginal differences between the election laws in Georgia and Colorado hardly justifies penalizing business owners and employees of color in the Atlanta area by precipitously relocating the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred asking him whether he intended to maintain his membership at Georgia’s famous Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the annual Masters Tournament classic. Rubio knew the answer to his question. “I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” Rubio wrote. “To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All Star Game from Atlanta.”
The baseball commissioner’s display of his own personal hypocrisy is bad enough. However, the organization he leads has taken hypocrisy to a whole new business level. Just one day before Manfred announced Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s new voting law, it was reported that MLB had expanded its business relationship with the Chinese media giant Tencent. MLB and Tencent had reached an agreement back in 2018 to live stream MLB games in China. Now, under a three-year contract that runs until the end of the 2023 season, Tencent will also be live streaming MLB games in other Asian countries via its international over-the-top platform WeTV. That includes All-Star Games.
Tencent’s founder and CEO Ma Huateng has served as a member of the Chinese Communist regime’s National People’s Congress. In doing business with Tencent, Major League Baseball is profiting from a Chinese company that performs as the Chinese Communist regime’s eyes and ears spying on its citizens. According to a 2019 report by Sarah Cook, a Senior Research Analyst for East Asia at Freedom House and Director of its China Media Bulletin, Tencent “facilitates Chinese government censorship and surveillance.” Tencent does so particularly through its subsidiary’s social media platform WeChat. And the situation is only getting worse.
“A sample of cases tracked in Freedom House’s China Media Bulletin over the past year,” Sarah Cook wrote in her 2019 report, “feature penalties against numerous WeChat users for mocking President Xi Jinping, criticizing judicial officials, commenting on massive floods, sharing information about human rights abuses, or expressing views related to their persecuted religion or ethnicity, be they Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, or Falun Gong practitioners.”
So, Major League Baseball is eager to do business with a company in China that enables China’s repressive government to go after and punish a Chinese citizen for daring to mock or criticize government officials or express any views that dissent from the regime’s party line. Major League Baseball will be profiting from Tencent’s streaming of the very same All-Star Game that MLB pulled out of Atlanta because Georgia’s new voting law violated its so-called “values as a sport.”
In his letter to Commissioner Manfred, Senator Rubio asked rhetorically, “Will Major League Baseball now end its engagement with nations that do not hold elections at all like China and Cuba? Will you end your lucrative financial relationship with Tencent, a company with deep ties to the Communist Party and actively helps the Chinese Government hunt down and silence political dissidents?”
Again, Senator Rubio knew the answer to his own questions. “I am, of course, under no expectation any of this will happen,” he wrote in his letter. “Taking the All-Star game out of Georgia is an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout. But speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party would involve a significant loss of revenue and being closed out of a lucrative market.”
Major League Baseball’s sellout to the woke crowd and its sheer hypocrisy in doing business with a company under the thumb of the repressive Chinese regime is way beneath even a bush league’s way of operating.