By Anonymous (not verified) on May 24, 2010

A steady thrum is increasing in volume outside Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's door to move the 2011 All Star Game out of Phoenix. Recent laws passed in Arizona—from banning ethnic studies in the Tucson public schools to mandating that the police demand the papers of “suspicious” immigrants—have mobilized people to take the Boycott Arizona campaign to Selig's door.

In addition to written requests to move the game from the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Congressman Jose Serrano, whose district includes Yankee Stadium, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking Selig to make the move.

As Favianna Rodriguez of movethegame.org said to me, "Not only are more than a quarter of the League’s players Latino, but so is a large part of the fan base. Now, in Arizona, these players and fans risk being harassed and even arrested on their way to the ballpark just because of how they look or their accent. We will not stand for laws like SB 1070, which treat Latinos like second-class citizens, and neither should Bud Selig.”

Subscribe to The Progressive

Selig, after weeks of hemming and hawing, came out with his answer last week. When asked if they would move the game, he fumed, “Apparently all the people around and in minority communities think we’re doing OK. That’s the issue, and that’s the answer. I told the clubs today: ‘Be proud of what we’ve done.’ They are. We should. And that’s our answer. We control our own fate, and we’ve done very well.”

It’s not clear what “minority communities” Selig is referring to, but if he believes that statement is going to isolate Major League Baseball from becoming ensnared in the immigration debate, he is being naive.

As Move the Game has documented, fifteen players have spoken out against the bill: Jorge Cantu, Augie Ojeda, Michael Young Frank Francisco. Alexei Ramírez, Adrian Gonzalez. César Izturis, Heath Bell. Rod Barajas, Scott Hairston. Joe Saunders. Bobby Abreu, Yorvit Torrealba, José Guillén, and Kyle McClellan.

Here’s what Cantu told the Miami Herald: “This hits me in the heart. I do not accept it. It’s a shame. It is sad news for my country, but not only Mexicans. Latin people. It’s just a shame for all those people here looking for a better life. They are looking for a better standard of living, and this knocks down their dreams. It is really upsetting.”

Of these players, Gonzalez and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen have said that they would be boycott the All Star game if played in Phoenix.

The tension on the field is exceeded by what’s happening off the field. The Arizona Diamondbacks have become the traveling road show for this legislation. This isn’t because they have the word “Arizona” in their name. It’s because their owner Ken Kendrick is a serious money man for the Republican Party.

We’ve now seen protests at every road stop of the D-backs since the law was passed: Denver to Chicago to Houston, to Florida to Atlanta. This coming Saturday, on a national day of action against Arizona’s laws, there stands to be the biggest of these protests in San Francisco, where people will be marching on AT&T Park. Diana Macasa, one of the march organizers, said to me, “We're marching on the Diamondbacks because if Arizona shows us anything, it’s that the attacks—no matter where you live—are escalating, and we want to send a message that this must stop now.”

The players on the field and the protesters off know that Major League Baseball, with its utter dependence on both the Latino players and the economic bonanza of the All Star game, is susceptible to pressure.

As McClellan said, “The All-Star game, it’s going to generate a lot of revenue. Look at what it did here for St. Louis. It was a huge promotion for this city and this club, and it’s one of those things where it’s something that would definitely leave a mark on them if we were to pull out of there. It would get a point across.”l

This is what Bud Selig is up against. He is going to have to understand that whatever his final decision, there is no untangling sports and politics here. Players and fans will view his final decision as a political choice.

Dave Zirin is the author of “A People’s History of Sports in the United States.” He writes a monthly column for The Progressive. This is from the upcoming July issue of The Progressive.

Subscribe to The Progressive

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

A new report by Human Rights Watch and the Columbia Law School focuses on the dubiousness of federal terrorism sting...

Starting on July 28, 1914, a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a series of European powers...

ALEC holds its 41st annual meeting in Dallas, Texas starting on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!