ATLANTA — Major League Baseball has announced that the All-Star game and MLB Draft is being pulled out of Atlanta.
“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,” MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said in a statement.
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The new law makes ballot drop boxes an official part of Georgia election law and replaces signature matches on absentee ballots with a voter ID.
Critics, however, contend the new law is more about voter suppression than election integrity, especially the law preventing people from providing food and water to voters within 150 feet of polling places.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support,” the statement continued.
The Braves released a statement Friday afternoon saying they were disappointed by the decision.
“The Atlanta Braves are deeply disappointed by the decision of Major League Baseball to move its’ 2021 All Star Game.
“This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city. The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion. Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.
“Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision. We will continue to support the community legacy projects which have been planned and are in process.”
From the moment Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 202, Georgia’s new elections law has drawn withering criticism.
In a statement today, Kemp said:
“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies. Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections. I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections. Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision.”
The law has even drawn criticism from President Joe Biden.
In an interview with ESPN’s Sage Steele, Biden said he would “strongly support” moving the MLB All-Star game out of Atlanta because of the new law.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden said. “I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders. Look at what’s happened with the NBA, as well.”
Shortly after the announcement, reaction started pouring in from the metro’s lawmakers.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted.
Sen. Raphael Warnock released at statement saying:
“Businesses and organizations have great power in their voices and ability to push for change, and I respect the decision of the players to speak out against this unjust law. It is not the people of Georgia or the workers of Georgia who crafted this law, it is politicians seeking to retain power at the expense of Georgians’ voices. And today’s decision by MLB is the unfortunate consequence of these politicians’ actions.
“It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community. Additionally, the urgency to pass federal voter protection laws grows every day, and I will continue to be a leader in that fight.”
“Stacey Abrams’ leftist lies have stolen the All-Star Game from Georgia. This decision is not only economically harmful, it also robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics. But Georgia will not be bullied by socialists and their sympathizers. We will continue to stand for accessible, secure elections that are free and fair. And we will continue to speak truth despite extortion and intimidation,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement.
Stacey Abrams released the following statement:
“Republicans who passed and defended Senate Bill 202 did so knowing the economic risks to our state. They prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians.
Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out. I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well. As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.
Georgia Republicans must renounce the terrible damage they have caused to our voting system and the harm they have inflicted on our economy. Our corporate community must get off the sidelines as full partners in this fight, acknowledging that the provisions of SB 202 do not expand voting rights. They restrict those rights, affecting employees and consumers alike. And leaders must publicly support the voting rights provisions in the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to mitigate the harm being done in Georgia and other states.
As other events, productions and businesses weigh whether to patronize Georgia, I urge those who can to come and speak out, and I urge those who are here to stay and fight, to stay and vote. We need you. Please go to stopjimcrow2.com to find out how you can join the fight for voting rights in Georgia and around the country.”
Rep. Buddy Carter called MLB pathetic:
“The MLB is absolutely pathetic. The organization has completely caved to the lies of the Left and America’s pastime has now become a political tool for the liberal mob. Let’s be clear – Georgia will be losing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars because Democrats, including the President of the United States, have been spreading lies about Georgia’s Election Integrity Act. Georgians have a deep love for the sport, but this move from the MLB is an attack on both our state and on free and fair elections. Georgians can fight back with their pocketbooks just as I’ll be fighting back in Congress.”
“We all have a responsibility to live our values. This is our civil rights moment, and there are not two sides to this issue. Everyone deserves free and fair access to the ballot box. I am proud the Major League Baseball Players’ Union made their voices heard in support of voting rights,” Rep. Nikema Williams said.
“The @MLB needs to stop listening to their corporate communist sponsors and remember the little guys who buy their tickets. The same people who are now saying they are done with professional sports. Keep the politics off the field and stop ruining everything!” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said in a tweet.