Most of the chatter I follow on Twitter is baseball-related. So I know some baseball fans aren’t eager to see the sport get involved in politics by, say, pulling the 2011 All-Star game out of Arizona to protest the state’s new immigration law.
“If MLB and dopey union retaliate against Arizona they lose this fan and many others,” tweeted “Strenuous,” a “physician-scientist” who lives in Arizona. “MLB has NO BUSINESS in Politics!!!” tweeted PokerJoeK. DouglasKendrick, from Illinois, went even heavier on the all-caps, tweeting, “MLB PLAYERS need to SHUT UP AND PLAY BASEBALL.”
So on the one hand, Bud Selig faces alienating part of baseball’s fan base if he voices any opinion on the Arizona law. But he also faces the ire of his players — and the powerful players’ union — if he stays silent. Several prominent big league figures, including Ozzie Guillen and Adrian Gonzalez, have spoken out against the law. In particular, Gonzalez has said he will not go to the All-Star game if it is in Arizona and if the law is still in effect. Rock, meet hard place.
If Bud were running a traditional business, we’d have to ask whether he’d go with a vocal segment of his “employees,” or a very vocal segment of his “customers.” Of course, he’s not running a traditional corporation. He’s running baseball, which just so happens to be our national pastime. For him, this is more complicated than a PR or legacy issue.
But for the players, and for the commentators in the media, it’s much simpler. All told, nearly 30 percent of major league players are foreign-born, a number that rises to 40 percent in the pipeline of the minor leagues. For me, there’s something very American about that — and something very anti-American about the Arizona law.
Perhaps, in your view, as a simple columnist, I have “NO BUSINESS in Politics!!!” But the reality is we’re actually all in politics all the time already, whether we like it or not. That’s why it’s called “democracy.”
For democracy to work, the participants have to do more than just vote. Informed debate is a key part of the system. For Selig, the law is a monkey wrench that must be handled — somehow. Not so for the players. They live and work in this country. Of course they’re entitled to their opinions; others are entitled to disagree. But picking up a baseball glove doesn’t — and shouldn’t — mean you leave your First Amendment rights in the clubhouse.
– Sarah Green also writes for UmpBump.com.
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