Baseball’s All-Star Game: Anywhere but Arizona?27 Jul 2010
Mere politics sullied the purity of the turf during this year’s All-Star Game, in Anaheim, California, as civil rights advocates, religious leaders, and even some of the players went on record in favor of boycotting baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game, if it takes place as scheduled in Arizona. The possible boycott is a response to Arizona’s now-infamous immigration law, SB 1070, that allows law enforcement officials to demand proof of lawful immigration status when they have reason to believe a person is in the country illegally. (See All-Star Boycott Coming? Baseball Players Lash Out at Arizona Immigration Law, by Brian Montopoli, CBS News, 13.Jul.2010.)
With this year’s All-Star break now passed, and implementation of SB1070 set for the end of July, pressure is mounting on Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner, Bud Selig, to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Arizona. CBS News quoted several Hispanic players sounding off about the Arizona immigration measure, with some of them flatly promising – or at least considering – a boycott of next year’s game. As CBS reported, “Another All-Star, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo, added, “If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott.” CBS quoted Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba, as saying “I think they should move [the game], because it’s going to be a lot of Latin players in the All-Star Game. I guarantee you they want to take their families. In my mind, I would be like, ‘I wonder if my family is all right here?'”
In a related article, San Diego Padres’ infielder, Jerry Hairston, Jr., went even further, telling ESPN.com that the Arizona law “…reminds me of seeing the old movies with the Nazis when they ask you to show your papers,” adding, “It’s not right. I can’t imagine my mom – who’s been a U.S. citizen longer than I’ve been alive, who was born and raised in Mexico – being asked to show her papers. I can’t imagine that happening. So it kind of hits home for me.” (See Immigration Law Looms Over 2011 Game, by Amy K. Nelson, ESPN.com, 13.Jul.2010.)
A significant number of fans appear to feel the same way. CBS News cited an Arizona Republic report that a group of protesters recently visited Commissioner Selig to deliver a petition – with upwards of 100,000 signatures – demanding that MLB move next year’s All-Star Game, in protest of SB 1070. It remains to be seen whether this, and other lobbying efforts, will have any effect on next year’s game.
As of this writing, the MLB Players’ Union has largely stayed on the sidelines, considering its options, according to ESPN.com. ESPN.com reports that, although 27.7 percent of the players on MLB’s Opening Day rosters were born outside of the United States, many Latino players have been reluctant to voice their opposition to the Arizona measure. For its part, the union is steering clear of controversy, citing the “wide difference of opinion on the merits of this law within our membership,” according to Michael Weiner, MLB Players’ Association executive director, who was quoted in the ESPN.com article. If they are lucky, the entire issue will be long forgotten by the time of next year’s All-Star game, with the offending law suspended in legal limbo while the real fight continues out of sight, in the courts.