Pressure Builds on Bud Selig to Move 2011 All-Star Game

A steady thrum is increasing in volume outside Major League Baseball
commissioner Bud Selig's door to move the 2011 All Star Game out of
Phoenix. Recent laws passed in Arizona-from banning ethnic studies in
the Tucson public schools to mandating that the police demand the
papers of "suspicious" immigrants-have mobilized people to take the
Boycott Arizona campaign to Selig's door.

In addition to written requests to move the game from the Reverend
Jesse Jackson and Congressman Jose Serrano, whose district includes
Yankee Stadium, more than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking
Selig to make the move.

As Favianna Rodriguez of
said to me, "Not only are more than a quarter of the League's players
Latino, but so is a large part of the fan base. Now, in Arizona, these
players and fans risk being harassed and even arrested on their way to
the ballpark just because of how they look or their accent. We will not
stand for laws like SB 1070, which treat Latinos like second-class
citizens, and neither should Bud Selig."

Selig, after weeks of hemming and hawing, came out with his answer
last week. When asked if they would move the game, he fumed,
"Apparently all the people around and in minority communities think
we're doing OK. That's the issue, and that's the answer. I told the
clubs today: 'Be proud of what we've done.' They are. We should. And
that's our answer. We control our own fate, and we've done very well."

It's not clear what "minority communities" Selig is referring to,
but if he believes that statement is going to isolate Major League
Baseball from becoming ensnared in the immigration debate, he is being

As Move the Game has documented,
fifteen players have spoken out against the bill: Jorge Cantu, Augie
Ojeda, Michael Young Frank Francisco. Alexei Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez.
Cesar Izturis, Heath Bell. Rod Barajas, Scott Hairston. Joe Saunders.
Bobby Abreu, Yorvit Torrealba, Jose Guillen, and Kyle McClellan.

Here's what Cantu told the Miami Herald:
"This hits me in the heart. I do not accept it. It's a shame. It is sad
news for my country, but not only Mexicans. Latin people. It's just a
shame for all those people here looking for a better life. They are
looking for a better standard of living, and this knocks down their
dreams. It is really upsetting."

Of these players, Gonzalez and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen have
said that they would be boycott the All Star game if played in Phoenix.

The tension on the field is exceeded by what's happening off the
field. The Arizona Diamondbacks have become the traveling road show for
this legislation. This isn't because they have the word "Arizona" in
their name. It's because their owner Ken Kendrick is a serious money
man for the Republican Party.

We've now seen protests at every road stop of the D-backs since the
law was passed: Denver to Chicago to Houston, to Florida to Atlanta.
This coming Saturday, on a national day of action against Arizona's
laws, there stands to be the biggest of these protests in San
Francisco, where people will be marching on AT&T Park. Diana
Macasa, one of the march organizers, said to me, "We're marching on the
Diamondbacks because if Arizona shows us anything, it's that the
attacks-no matter where you live-are escalating, and we want to send a
message that this must stop now."

The players on the field and the protesters off know that Major
League Baseball, with its utter dependence on both the Latino players
and the economic bonanza of the All Star game, is susceptible to

As McClellan said,
"The All-Star game, it's going to generate a lot of revenue. Look at
what it did here for St. Louis. It was a huge promotion for this city
and this club, and it's one of those things where it's something that
would definitely leave a mark on them if we were to pull out of there.
It would get a point across."l

This is what Bud Selig is up against. He is going to have to
understand that whatever his final decision, there is no untangling
sports and politics here. Players and fans will view his final decision
as a political choice.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

© 2023 The Progressive