MLB risked player walkout if All-Star Game not moved
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New York (AFP) –
Major League Baseball risked having several top players boycott the All-Star Game had it not been moved from Atlanta, according to some who celebrated Friday's announcement by commissioner Rob Manfred.
The July 13 exhibition showdown between National and American league superstars was moved after Georgia passed a law making it more difficult for Black people to vote.
"Any intent to suppress any American from voting, I disagree with," said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, the 2018 and 2019 All-Star Game manager for the National League.
"Certainly I'm saddened and disappointed for fans in the state of Georgia. They are the victims in this.
"It's a difficult decision but I certainly support it."
Manfred decided to move the game in the wake of protests that drew the backing of US President Joe Biden and such major Georgia businesses as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.
"It was a tough situation. I feel like it was the right decision," said 17-season MLB pitcher Edwin Jackson. "It's a powerful impact baseball has shown it has on the community."
Harold Reynolds, a two-time All-Star player now working as a television commentator, said MLB risked having players refuse to play had the game been staged in Atlanta in the wake of the restrictive voting law.
"Players were not going to play," he said. "That's part of taking a stand for social justice. And I'm not just talking about black players in The Players Alliance."
The alliance was a group of active and former MLB players, mostly but not all Black, formed last year in the wake of rising social justice concerns.
"We will use our voice, our platform, and our partnerships now more than ever to create real, tangible change for the Black community to stand up for every American's right to vote," the group said in a statement.
“We will not be silenced. We won't back down in the fight for racial equity. We will never stop breaking barriers to the ballot box."
- 'Not an easy decision' -
Curtis Granderson, president of the alliance and a three-time All-Star in 16 MLB seasons, was among those who spoke to Manfred as he consulted stakeholders about the decision.
"It was emotional," Granderson said. "He was taking a pulse. He was letting us know where he was at. It was great that he was receptive. It was great he reached out to us.
"We have to commend him. This was not an easy decision to have to make. He got a sense (of players' feelings) and the sense was to go ahead and make that decision to move the game.
"He made the decision to step up."
Other major sports events have been moved over social issues. The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte after a North Carolina state law was passed weakening anti-discrimination laws protecting the gay community.
The NFL moved the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday.
© 2021 AFP