Former Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Fay Vincent slammed MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred in an op-ed this week for his decision to withdraw the league’s All-Star Game from Atlanta after Georgia enacted a new law aimed at tightening the security of elections in the state.
Vincent made his criticisms of Manfred in an op-ed published on Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, calling boycotts an “act of desperation” and saying that Manfred made “a serious mistake” by rushing to pull the All Star Game out of the state “without first protesting the substance of the law.”
Vincent noted that the course of action that Manfred took effectively allowed him to bypass needing approval of the player’s union and team owners. An ESPN reporter noted this week that league sources indicated that the move was the result of corporate pressure, not the result of player-threatened boycott. The piece also noted that only people that will be hurt by Manfred’s decision are workers in Atlanta, a city that has a more diverse population than the new host city, Denver.
The talk shows and editorial pages are full of questions. What is the basis for acting so forcefully against Georgia? If Georgia is racist, how can baseball talk of doing business with China? Mr. Manfred failed to spell out specific criticisms of Georgia’s voting law. Now he’s put himself in the awkward position of having to defend Colorado’s voting laws.
During my time as commissioner, I learned that the American people view baseball as a public trust. They want the game to stand for the best and noblest of our national virtues. They see baseball as the repository of their dreams, even as they root for their favorite teams. They don’t want, and won’t accept, anything that separates them from the game’s history and leadership.
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.
The situation calls to mind the 2006 Duke lacrosse case, when many erred—like Mr. Manfred has here—by leaping to a conclusion based on assumptions rather than carefully considered facts. I’ve done the same thing, to my regret. Much rides on Mr. Manfred’s shoulders so he must be prudent. Perhaps he now sees how complicated these issues can become. I wish him well.
MLB’s decision to pull the game out of Georgia came after President Joe Biden said during an ESPN interview last week that he would “strongly support” the game being moved out of the state. Fact-checkers have reported that Biden has repeatedly lied about the new election law and the White House has declined to say if he will stop lying about it. Critics have also noted his rhetoric that the law is a new Jim Crow law is also wrong.