Baseball is a rare example of how the coexistence of dynamism and traditionalism can sustain an institution that appreciates its past as much as it yearns to shape its future. After over a century and a half of baseball, the rules remain as unchanged as the flow of the game itself and the reliable cadence of the long season that spans from the end of spring to the beginning of fall.
The beauty of baseball is that, despite holding onto its traditions, the game always intersects with broader American culture.
The enormous sacrifice of Major League Baseball and its players in World War I would be eclipsed during World War II when over 500 major league players left the game to serve in the military — including 37 future Hall of Famers.
Like many American institutions, Major League Baseball suffered its fair share of setbacks amidst the struggle for equality and civil rights. Still, one of the game's trailblazers, Jackie Robinson, led the way on integration and will forever be celebrated as a civil rights icon.
In 2001, President George W. Bush showed America's strength as he threw out the first pitch of the World Series in New York City just weeks after the Sept. 11 tragedies. Baseball provided a similar showing of strength and resiliency in 2013 when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series just months after the Boston Marathon Bombing.
This year, Major League Baseball celebrated the hiring of its first female general manager, Kim Ng. Ng is the first woman, the first person of East Asian descent to lead a Major League Baseball front office and the first female general manager in the history of North American professional men's sports.
Baseball's uncanny ability to regularly intersect with American culture and help create consequential change reminds us why the game is foundational to American society. Baseball reminds us that we can retain tradition while simultaneously enacting prudent change.
In baseball, when change occurs, it is thoughtful, not reactionary.
Whether it be introducing mandatory drug testing, negotiating collective bargaining agreements or deciding to expand the size of the league — every decision in baseball is made with prudence and foresight. This approach to change is comparable to the cerebral decision-making players and managers engage in during a baseball game.
On Friday, Major League Baseball abandoned its tradition of prudence when the league announced that it would relocate the 2021 All-Star Game, which was scheduled to occur in Atlanta.
The league's decision to relocate comes after the passage of S.B. 202, a divisive new Georgia law that updates the state's election procedures.
President Biden has referred to the bill as "Jim Crow of the 21st century." When asked if he would support Major League Baseball moving the All-Star game out of Georgia, President Biden said he “would strongly support them doing that.”
Considering Jim Crow was a systemic effort of oppression and violence that affected Black American's daily lives, this is a serious charge. A charge that the MLB took seriously and acted on accordingly.
In a statement about the new Georgia Law, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said, "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.".
President Biden's characterization of the bill and Major League Baseball's subsequent reaction would be justified if the bill's characterization were accurate. It's not.
Georgia Law S.B. 202 does not offer the slightest resemblance to the Jim Crow Era. In fact, in many ways, the bill expands voting access beyond that of other states.
The new law mandates that precincts allow 17 days of early voting, including two Saturdays, in the lead-up to the election. President Biden's home state of Delaware currently doesn't allow any early in-person voting. In New York, where Major League Baseball is headquartered, the state only mandates nine days of early voting.
The new Georgia law also allows for no-excuse absentee voting to remain in place. This means that any Georgia resident will be able to vote absentee. The law also requires that online registration for absentee ballots be made available.
The law also allows for drop boxes to permanently remain after their adoption on an emergency basis last year.
In the 2020 election, Georgia election officials were required to determine an absentee ballot's validity by matching a voter's signature on the ballot with the signature on record for that voter. Instead of maintaining this subjective and time-intensive practice, Georgia now mandates that voters verify their identity when applying for an absentee ballot by providing a photocopy or digital picture of their driver's license or voter identification card.
All voters can obtain a voter identification card for free.
The new Georgia law also allows election workers to begin counting absentee ballots two weeks before election day to prevent significant delays in reporting results. Under the new law, they are also mandated to announce the total amount of votes cast by 10:00 p.m. on election night. This way, confusion is mitigated and voters will know how many outstanding ballots remain.
President Biden and his allies continue to assert that the new Georgia law prohibits voters waiting in line from receiving food or water. This is a lie and has been given four Pinocchio's by the Washington Post Fact Checker. The new law prohibits campaign members from electioneering or giving out food and drink to voters while they wait in line. Polling places can still provide voters with water, and voters can order food and drink while they wait in line.
President Biden and his allies continue to lie and spread disinformation regarding the new Georgia Voting Law. It is not Jim Crow of the 21st Century.
Despite the spread of rampant disinformation regarding the new Georgia Law, a national Morning Consult Poll recently found that more respondents favored the bill than opposed it.
Now, Major League Baseball has decided to relocate the 2021 All-Star game to Denver, Colorado. The move will cost the Atlanta community, whose population is over 50% African American, $100 million in lost revenue. Instead, Major League Baseball has decided to move the All-Star Game to Denver — a city with a 9.2% African American population.
Like Georgia, Colorado prohibits members of campaigns from electioneering or giving out food and drink to voters while they wait in line, requires voter ID and has no-excuse absentee voting. Unlike Georgia, Colorado still requires signature verification for absentee ballots and requires two days less of early voting.
Major League Baseball abandoned its tradition of prudence and caved to a campaign of disinformation. Now, Major League Baseball is taking their business out of one of the largest majority African-American metro areas in the country and taking it to a state with relatively similar voting laws.
Baseball struck out on this one.
Tripp Grebe is a Sophomore studying Political Science with Certificates in Political Economy, Philosophy, and Economics. Do you think Major League Baseball made the wrong decision moving to Colorado? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.