Former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent says current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made "a serious mistake" by rushing to move the All-Star game out of Atlanta.
Vincent’s remarks came in a column posted by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
"Major League Baseball decided last week to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta after the Georgia Legislature passed changes to the state’s voting laws that many, including President (Joe) Biden, called racist," he said.
"Activists urged Commissioner Robert Manfred to punish Georgia. By rushing to do so without first protesting the substance of the law, Mr. Manfred made a serious mistake.
"Organizations like Major League Baseball have sometimes participated in public debates over policy. Moving directly to an economic sanction suggests that Mr. Manfred believed the Georgia law required drastic intervention. But consider what he didn’t do: He didn’t limit the number of home games the Atlanta Braves will play. He’d need the approval of the players’ union to do that, and Braves owner John Malone would surely resist.
And he added: "To move the site of the All-Star Game is one thing; to ignore union and ownership powers is quite another."
Manfred announced last week the game would not be played in Atlanta as scheduled due to new voting laws approved in Georgia that critics consider restrictive.
"I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft," Manfred said. "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."
Georgia officials estimated a loss of around $100 million based on moving the game from Truist Park.
In his column, Vincent said: "The midsummer All-Star Game is an exhibition that benefits only the city where it’s played. It was reported Tuesday morning that Denver will be the new host. The players will get paid no matter where the game takes place. MLB will get the same television revenue. The only people hurt by Mr. Manfred’s decision will be Atlanta’s stadium workers and local vendors."
Vincent, who served as commissioner from 1989-1992, said during his time overseeing American’s national pastime, "I learned that the American people view baseball as a public trust." And he said Americans want the game to "stand for the best and noblest of our national virtues."
"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."
He cautioned that Manfred "must be prudent."
"Perhaps he now sees how complicated these issues can become," he said. "I wish him well."
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