Saturday, May 1, 2010

Purpose Pitch

If you've been reading the comments on Sarah's great post earlier this week, you probably already know my stance on the Arizona immigration law (in brief, it sucks). What you may not know if you've never met me is that I'm a big baseball fan, and whenever baseball and politics collide I get really excited.

So you can probably understand that when I saw this gem, I had a little nerd freak-out. In case you don't feel like reading the link, it was reported yesterday that the Major League Baseball Players Association (one of the most powerful unions in sports) has officially condemned the law, with the union's executive director Michael Weiner (pictured) issuing a statement.

I was thrilled to see this, but not really all that surprised. First of all, for the baseball novice, there is a team based in Phoenix -- the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the 2001 World Series on a base hit by the franchise's best and most popular position player, Luis Gonzalez...a Cuban-American. That leads into the main reason I'm not surprised by this move. Over a quarter of the players in the majors this year are, in one way or another, of Latino descent. That number is even higher in the minor leagues, and many of the game's biggest stars are Latino. Albert Pujols, Johan Santana, Manny Ramirez, and other players you have actually heard of all could conceivably be stopped by police when they come to play the Diamondbacks. Additionally, many teams hold their spring training in Arizona (meaning half the league spends a month and a half each year in Arizona), so the union pretty much had to act.

The team's managing general partner Ken Kendrick made a concurrent statement that was less strongly worded, but called on the federal government to fix this issue, acknowledging the fact that this law is going to affect his players and others. (By the way, the team's owners are evidently big-time Republican contributors. This discovery really upset me, because I've rooted for them since they beat the Yankees in 2001, and my brother's a fan.) If there's alignment between the players and the owners on this, it's highly possible that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig could be forced into making an official statement.

If Major League Baseball wants to make a really strong statement, there are already some pushing for an extreme move. The 2011 All-Star Game is scheduled to be played in the Diamondbacks' home park in Phoenix, and there's a movement afoot to have the game moved from Arizona in protest of the immigration law. As a leftist baseball fan, this would probably be the best possible outcome for me, as it would put politics and baseball together in a way they haven't been combined since the Senate steroid hearings.

I'm not sure whether a threat to move the All-Star Game would actually have an effect on the political end, though -- it's a moneymaker for the state, but it would set a bad political precedent to bend to the will of a sports league, especially considering the fact that MLB isn't nearly as strong as the NFL. If this actually happens, it would basically make Roger Goodell the unofficial King of the United States. But I am glad to see the MLBPA take the action it's taken, and I'm hoping that there will be more major public resistance to this law. This is what will help change the law; if people and groups across the country stand up and tell Arizona to quit doing its 1980s South Africa impression. They may not listen to Bud Selig alone, but they may listen to all of us together.

And I hope you'll all join me in cheering on my Mets when they play in Arizona from July 19-21. Here's hoping our starting shortstop, center fielder and catcher, our best starting pitcher, our worst starting pitcher, our closer, and our general manager don't all get arrested.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)


Andrea Watts said...

YES! Thomas, you are such a rock star.

Great post :)

Side note: a retired professor from Ball State used to teach a Politics and Baseball summer class, you would have loved it!

ShamRockNRoll said...

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