There was a great deal of controversy over the 2011 All-Star Game being in Phoenix in the wake of Arizona passing its controversial immigration bill last year. That more or less died down as an issue as far as baseball was concerned after the federal government sued Arizona over the law, suspending its implementation until the matter is resolved. Selig said that was good enough and everyone moved on to other things.
Dave Zirin revives the call for a baseball boycott of Arizona in a column in The Nation today, but he’s not just focused on S.B. 1070. Rather, he believes that All-Star Game should be moved because of it, the Giffords shooting, Governor Jan Brewer’s general mendacity and another new piece of proposed legislation — not passed yet — targeting school children who are illegal immigrants. Overall, Zirin wants baseball to move the All-Star Game because because Arizona is “dangerous and bigoted” and is “a state with aspirations of apartheid.”
I’ll say this much: the politics and general zeitgeist of Arizona make me happy I live in Ohio, and it takes an awful lot to make me happy I live in Ohio. That said, I think Zirin and others who are advocating for the All-Star Game to be moved are fighting a lost cause.
Bud Selig is the last man on the planet who would take a stand on anything. Especially a stand that would cost him or his fellow owners money, as moving the game at this late a date would do. There are contracts in place. Stuff has been printed. The room has been rented, if you will. Bud Selig would play that game in Arizona if God Almighty came down from the heavens and commanded him to move it. Bud would probably say something like “well, I understand and appreciate His objections, but I’ve been around long enough to know that there are two sides to every issue, so I …” and then he’d just ramble on a while more.
So Selig is a dead end. What would be more effective in my mind would be to reach out to the ballplayers likely to be selected to the game and try to persuade them to sit it out. As Zirin notes, there were already multiple players who said last summer they’d be loathe to participate in an Arizona All-Star Game as a result of S.B. 1070. Rather than picket the ballparks and demand that Selig do something, why not try to persuade them and others to take a public stand?
That game is going to be played no matter what. If the protests leading up to the game are to prevent it, they’ll be increasingly ignored as the game’s inevitability grows. But, if some big names noisily beg out, it will be much harder for people to ignore. The media will have to write and report about their absence. People will talk about it and the reasons for it. And ultimately, isn’t that the point?