Kudos, condemnation over MLB’s decision to move All-Star game from Atlanta

Magic Johnson thanks MLB; California’s Newsom tells baseball ‘give us a call’
MLB announced Friday afternoon it is moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia's new voting laws. (Photo by Jessica Cox, Bally Sports)

Credit: Jessica Cox, Bally Sports

Credit: Jessica Cox, Bally Sports

MLB announced Friday afternoon it is moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia's new voting laws. (Photo by Jessica Cox, Bally Sports)

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s April announcement the league is moving its All-Star game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new voting law immediately unleashed a torrent of condemnation and praise over social media airwaves.

“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. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft,” Manfred said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” the statement continued. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

“We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities,” Manfred said. “In addition, MLB’s planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of our All-Star Legacy Projects will move forward. We are finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.”

President Joe Biden said earlier this week he would “strongly support” moving the game out of Georgia because of the state’s new voting law, according to an interview Biden gave to ESPN.

On Wednesday, Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid met virtually with Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB players’ union. After Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed a sweeping, 98-page elections law, Clark said players were ready to discuss moving the game out of Georgia.

The new law has been criticized by voting rights advocates, who claim it unfairly targets traditionally disenfranchised voters.

Similar pieces of voting legislation are being considered in other states with Republican-controlled state Capitols following a national election that gave Democrats control of the White House and U.S. Senate.

Georgia’s new voting law adds new voter identification requirements, limits ballot drop boxes, moves up absentee ballot request deadlines and prohibits volunteers from handing out water or food to people waiting in line to vote.

Biden told ESPN on the eve of MLB’s opening day that people look to professional baseball players as examples.

“They’re leaders,” Biden said. “Look at what happened with the NBA, as well. Look what’s happened across the board. The very people who were victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right. This is Jim Crow on steroids.”

Other sports have moved high-profile events because of social issues. In the early 1990s, the NFL shifted the Super Bowl out of Arizona after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday.

The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, when the league took issue with a state law that cut anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The NCAA for years didn’t hold championships in states where the Confederate battle flag was officially recognized.

This year’s All-Star game will include honoring Hank Aaron, the Braves’ Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22 at age 86.

MLB canceled last year’s All-Star game, which had been scheduled for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, due to the late and shortened season caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The 2022 game will be played at Dodger Stadium.

MLB has awarded the 2026 All-Star game to Philadelphia as part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

The 1972 All-Star game was played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and the 2000 All-Star game was at Atlanta’s Turner Field.