If you’re a baseball fan – especially a baseball fan in Atlanta, Georgia – it’s been an interesting week to say the least. Unbeknownst to many national pastime aficionados, the sport is obviously heavily involved in politics. It seems the Office of the Commissioner and the Player’s Union in particular decided to remove the All-Star game from the City of Atlanta (well, technically, Marietta) because they collectively didn’t like a new law that had been passed by the Georgia Legislature that codified voting procedures in the State.
It occurred to me when I heard that news that the only group that didn’t get to weigh in with an opinion on moving the game was the ticket-buyers. That would be the folks who pay the salaries of the millionaires playing a kid’s game for a living, as well as the highly-compensated Commissioner. But why ask the paying public? I don’t know what the majority of fans would have said, but it would have been nice to have been asked. And I don’t just mean devotees of the Braves. All baseball fans should have had an opportunity to support or reject the abrupt cancellation. Especially since, if it could happen to Atlanta, what’s to prevent a similar disastrous action occurring in future cities should the Commissioner and Player’s Union take umbrage at a social posture within an affected state?
Wonder if the whole idea of yanking the game away from Georgia was really Andrew Cuomo’s idea? Think about it. The embattled New York Governor’s name and supposed shenanigans have been splayed across the width and breadth of newspapers and magazines throughout the country, cable news (well, except for CNN), and even the mainstream media for several months now. But have you heard anything about the “Love Gov” since the All-Star story hit? Seems to have dissipated a bit, don’t you think? Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has been getting far more facetime than Cuomo.
Whether you support the new voting measures or not, you have to admit the economic fallout of having the All-Star game leave the confines of the Peach State will be quite large. And that’s got many of those who were vociferously opposed to the Bill kind of walking back their strident rhetoric. Messages such as, “Well, we’re opposed, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want all that money flowing into the state,” are heard daily. Those who supported the Bill are still shouting, “Did you actually read the details, Commissioner?”
Even corporations such as Delta and Coca-Cola, longtime stalwarts of their headquarters City and State, felt they had to chime in. That can be a little dangerous since there are quite a few denizens of Georgia who might decide Southwest and Dr. Pepper are acceptable alternatives to travel and thirst-quenching.
Speaking of Delta, I wonder if the vendors that stand to lose the most money without the All-Star spending might be able to take a page out of the airline’s operating playbook. To wit: A change fee. In non-pandemic days, if you wanted to switch a booked flight on Delta, you had to pay for the privilege. Heck, payments of that ilk are kind of standard operating procedure for many companies that book trade shows or entertainment events. If somebody pulls the plug prior to showtime, they’re usually on the hook for a renege fee. It’s been estimated that Atlanta’s tourism industry will lose at least $100 million because of the pull-out. I would think a 50% penalty would be in order. That shouldn’t be too hard for MLB to swallow. Angel’s outfielder Mike Trout and Dodger’s pitcher Trevor Bauer make more than $50 million per year just between the two of them.
The powers-that-be in sports might want to tread lightly with their showcase events. It’s probably not going to be easy going forward to find venues that don’t offend someone. Even Denver, the newly chosen location for the 2021 All-Star game, may not be the perfect choice. MLB has a very strict policy against drugs. Colorado is big into legalized marijuana. Should the players refuse to show up because of that? Next year’s Summer Classic is scheduled for Los Angeles. With the governor being recalled, teachers refusing to go back to the classrooms, and businesses folding like cheap seats, California becomes squirrellier and squirrellier by the day. Do we want to trust baseball’s finest to be unscathed out there?
Maybe the Boys of Summer could play their game at the Field of Dreams ballyard, with cornfields for fences. Oh, wait. The Iowa caucuses begin in a couple of years. And they can get a little political. Better rethink that.