The New Political Rules of Baseball

So there are more restrictions for volunteering at a MLB game than MLB wants there to be to vote. Nice… mrossol

WSJ. 5/17/2021  by James Freeman

Remember last month when weak CEOs got bullied by leftists into condemning Georgia’s sensible voting reforms? The passage of time hasn’t made such corporate gestures any less empty. Take Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who attempted to signal organizational virtue by announcing he would move this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Now preparations for the relocated game in Denver, Colorado reveal why he never should have abandoned the Peach State.

The leftist canard has been that Georgia’s effort to ensure the integrity of the ballot is akin to the racist Jim Crow laws of years ago. On April 2 Mr. Manfred endorsed this nonsense when he issued the following statement:

Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. 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.
Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.

What restrictions? The law expanded weekend voting and ensured no-excuse absentee voting and drop boxes in every county. It also required proper identification to vote, which is broadly popular in America outside of tweeting leftists and the CEOs who fear them. A Journal editorial noted in March:

So what does the Georgia law do? First, it gets rid of signature matching, so election workers aren’t trying to verify mail ballots by comparing John Hancocks. This subjective process should concern both sides. It creates avenues for contested outcomes, with fighting over ambiguous signatures. In 2018 about 2,400 ballots in Georgia were rejected for issues with the signature or oath, according to a recent paper in Political Research Quarterly. Those voters were 54% black.
Instead of signature matching, voters will submit a state ID number with their mail ballots or applications. This way there’s no arguing over handwriting: The ID number either matches or it doesn’t. Georgians who vote in person are already asked to show identification. Anyone who lacks an ID can get one for free.

An April editorial added:

The public debate on Georgia’s new voting law has become a stew of falsehood, propaganda and panic… Start with President Biden, the great unifier, who on Wednesday to ESPN called the law “ Jim Crow on steroids,” while saying he’d “strongly support” moving the Major League Baseball all-star game out of Atlanta. He’s picking up the smear about Georgia from Stacey Abrams, who still hasn’t accepted that she lost the race for Peach State Governor in 2018.
“You’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock, when working people just get off?” he said to ESPN. “This is all about keeping working folks, and ordinary folks that I grew up with, from being able to vote.” Mr. Biden either doesn’t know what’s in the Georgia bill or he is lying about it…
On Election Day in Georgia, anyone in line by 7 p.m. gets a ballot. The new law requires an extra Saturday of voting, while specifying early voting hours: The minimum is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but counties may run 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In metro areas, “you might not notice a change,” explains Georgia Public Broadcasting. Elsewhere, “you will have an extra weekend day, and your weekday early voting hours will likely be longer.”

Little more than a month after this media storm of distortion, Major League Baseball policy is making it clear just how seriously Mr. Manfred takes this issue. MLB’s current position is that rigorous verification procedures should be reserved—not for elections to choose the people who will govern us—but for other societal activities, such as serving as an unpaid volunteer at baseball’s all-star game.

The MLB website provides helpful answers to questions likely to be posed by aspiring participants:

What is the volunteer registration process?
You will be invited by email to create a profile in our volunteer management system and to attend a volunteer information session in late May/early June. You then will be notified of your acceptance and sent a link to sign up for the specific opportunities for which you would like to volunteer during MLB All-Star Week. This information then will be processed and you will receive your confirmed schedule and orientation information. All unpaid volunteers must pass a background check to the satisfaction of Major League Baseball and the Denver Sports Commission.

Just to be sure that volunteering at an almost entirely meaningless event is more difficult than voting in Georgia, MLB adds a number of important safeguards:

Are there any requirements to volunteer?
Yes. All unpaid volunteers must be 18 years of age as of the date of their online registration, must sign a release of liability, waiver of class or collective action claims, agreement to arbitrate claims and eligibility form and must pass a background check to the satisfaction of Major League Baseball and the Denver Sports Commission. A valid driver’s license or state identification may be used as proof of age.

It’s possible that Mr. Manfred thinks that the democratic process at the heart of our constitutional republic really is less important than recruiting unpaid staff for his entertainment events. But who can believe that?

James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”


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