Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent blasted current Commissioner Rob Manfred for making a “serious mistake” in pulling the league’s All-Star Game out of Georgia.
Vincent, who served as MLB commissioner from September of 1989 to September of 1992, let fly with his criticisms of Manfred in a Tuesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. In the piece, Vincent accuses Manfred of having made a “serious mistake” by pulling the All-Star Game (ASG) from Atlanta. Specifically, he charges that Manfred should have first protested the “substance of the law” before acting out of “desperation” by enforcing a boycott.
Vincent also highlighted the disproportionate harm such boycotts have on minority communities. In addition to citing the hypocrisy of baseball pulling a special event from Georgia, supposedly because of a “racist” law, and then doing business with a gross human rights abuser in China. The former commissioner also questioned Manfred’s understanding of the Georgia law by harkening back to the incorrect and incendiary conclusions so many arrived at during the 2006 Duke lacrosse controversy.
The talk shows and editorial pages are full of questions. What is the basis for acting so forcefully against Georgia? If Georgia is racist, how can baseball talk of doing business with China? Mr. Manfred failed to spell out specific criticisms of Georgia’s voting law. Now he’s put himself in the awkward position of having to defend Colorado’s voting laws.
During my time as commissioner, I learned that the American people view baseball as a public trust. They want the game to stand for the best and noblest of our national virtues. They see baseball as the repository of their dreams, even as they root for their favorite teams. They don’t want, and won’t accept, anything that separates them from the game’s history and leadership.
Major League Baseball can’t become a weapon in the culture wars, a hostage for one political party or ideology. It can’t be only for the rich or the poor, nor can it only be for one race, as it was until 1947. Baseball must always stand above politics and its dark elements of corruption, greed and sordid selfishness. It can’t go wrong by standing for national greatness.
The situation calls to mind the 2006 Duke lacrosse case, when many erred—like Mr. Manfred has here—by leaping to a conclusion based on assumptions rather than carefully considered facts. I’ve done the same thing, to my regret. Much rides on Mr. Manfred’s shoulders so he must be prudent. Perhaps he now sees how complicated these issues can become. I wish him well.
Manfred decided to pull the game out of Atlanta due to the belief that the state’s recently passed voter reform measures represented an attack on the ability of many, specifically minorities, to vote. Those claims have been repeatedly debunked by Breitbart News and even, to varying degrees, by the Washington Post.
MLB has since relocated its ASG to Colorado. A state that requires voter ID and actually has fewer early voting days than Georgia.