MLB moves All-Star game out of GA amidst voting restrictions

Major League Baseball announced on April 7 that the Colorado Rockies will be hosting the 2021 All-Star game. The All-Star game was originally scheduled to be played at Triust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. Because of Georgia’s controversial new voting laws, MLB took unprecedented action and changed the location of the Midsummer Classic.

A New York Times article broke down the 98-page voting law and highlighted the significant changes of the document. Some of these changes include fewer ballot drop boxes, getting rid of mobile voting centers and handing out misdemeanor charges to those offering food and water in voting lines. Additionally, there are new ID requirements for absentee ballots, and a hotline with the attorney general to look out for any instance of voter fraud.

Soph Sunseri, ’23, suspects that these laws will restrict the voting process.

“It’s already difficult to vote in general,” Sunseri said. “Now they are making it more inconvenient in areas where there are less places to vote in-person.”

Sean Pickett, ’23, is also against the majority of these voting laws, but agrees with some of these changes.

“Having an ID (for absentee ballots) and monitoring the election sounds reasonable because we always want to protect our voting process,” Pickett said. “Yet, not providing food or water seems like a deterrent because voting laws, especially during election years, are very long.”

MLB has become more involved in social justice issues during the past year. There were  more conversations with Black baseball players about their experiences with racism. Even on MLB’s home page, there is a social justice section filled with tips and resources on how to be anti-racist.

Some baseball fans believe that moving the All-Star game has crossed a line. One former MLB player in particular presented his thoughts on Twitter. David Wells, who is famously remembered for throwing a perfect game and winning a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1998, refuses to watch baseball and wants to keep the politics away from the game.

Despite his shocking statements, Wells is speaking on behalf of baseball fans who are unhappy with MLB’s decision as the city of Atlanta will be directly impacted. According to Business Insider, the state will lose $100 million added to their economy because of the relocation. 

Pickett noted how the removal of the All-Star game is a devastating blow to the Georgia economy.

“A $100 million shot into the economy is very, very helpful,” Pickett said. “The introduction of a large amount of money into an economy is really good for it, and that benefit would have helped Atlanta a lot.”

Furthermore, leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, more political activists came forward about how BIPOC communities have fewer opportunities to cast their votes. Ironically, the relocation to Denver may allow less BIPOC to watch the Midsummer Classic in-person. According to the United States Census Bureau, BIPOC individuals make up 19.1% of Denver’s population, whereas the same community makes up 37.6% of Cobb County’s population in Atlanta.

“Even though MLB is saying this move is taking a stand on the communities that are impacted, it will actually have economic impacts on these same communities,” Truong-Son Nguyen, ’23, said. “However, this move will have an impactful change over policy making in the long term. So it’s kind of like sacrificing the short-term benefits in order to reap the long-term rewards,”

Additionally, the Braves had planned to honor Hank Aaron, a Hall of Famer and one of baseball’s best Black baseball players, at the All-Star Game this year. Aaron began his professional career in the Negro Leagues, appeared in 25 Midsummer Classics, and slugged the second most home runs of all time. Aaron passed away this year on Jan. 22.

The Rockies have received a great opportunity to host the All-Star game, especially after going from contenders to finishing last in the National League West. After making it to the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history (from 2017-2018), the Rockies gave then-franchise cornerstone Nolan Arenado, the largest deal in team history, valued at nine years, $260 million. The Rockies appeared to have one of their best groups of players in team history.

Inconsistent pitching and the lack of elite players surrounding Arenado forced the Rockies to trade their All-Star third baseman to the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason. The Rockies are poised for another last place finish, as shortstop Trevor Story will test free agency. Only time will tell how the Rockies will perform, but fans can watch Story and the Rockies host the Midsummer Classic on July 13 at Coors Field.

It’s already difficult to vote in general. Now they are making it more inconvenient in areas where there are less places to vote in person.

— Soph Sunseri, Class of 2023