SBD/Issue 163/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Arizona Gov. Says Taking MLB All-Star Game Would Be "Wrong Play"

Brewer Defends Immigration Law,
ASG In A Special To ESPN.com

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in a special to ESPN.com wrote urging MLB to "take away next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix is the wrong play." Arizona's new immigration law has "resulted in protests outside ballparks" hosting D'Backs games and has led to calls for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to "strip the City of Phoenix's opportunity to host baseball's Midsummer Classic in July 2011." However, Brewer contends "history shows that boycotts backfire and harm innocent people," and are "just more politics and manipulation by out-of-state interests." Brewer added, "It is critically important that all Americans understand the impetus for this new law and have a clear understanding of the law itself. ... Essentially, our border leaks like a team with a last-place defense" (ESPN.com, 5/5). Meanwhile, in Houston, Mike Glenn reports about 25 people "gathered in front of Minute Maid Park to picket" last night's D'Backs-Astros game, carrying signs with messages such as "Boycott Arizona" and "No Human Being is Illegal." The protest "sparked a counter-demonstration outside Minute Maid Park from those supporting" the law (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/6).

MORE PROTESTS PLANNED: Rev. Al Sharpton was in Phoenix at the Spurs-Suns game attending a protest to the immigration law and said he is "calling on" Selig to say the MLB All-Star Game "cannot come to Phoenix if this law stands." Sharpton: "The next rally we will have at Major League Baseball headquarters. We think sports can play a critical role here, particularly when many of the players across the board themselves will be and could be profiled if they come to this state" ("Countdown With Keith Olbermann," MSNBC, 5/5). In N.Y., Erin Einhorn reported N.Y.-based political group Working Families Party has created a petition calling for the Mets and Yankees to boycott the All-Star Game that it "planned to deliver to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Mets owner Fred Wilpon." Working Families Party Dir Dan Cantor in a letter to the group's supporters wrote, "If New York's baseball teams say they won't go, they could become leaders in a national push to move the All-Star Game out of Arizona" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/5). The petition as of presstime has 4,314 signatures (THE DAILY). Meanwhile, Washington Post political columnist George Will said, "Once you start down this path that interest groups are going to come out of the woodwork and start trying … to pressure baseball or other sporting operations because of some disagreement with what a some state legislature has done ... it'll never stop" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 5/5). 

BRING IN THE MOVING TRUCKS: In Orlando, George Diaz writes under the header, "Bud Selig Should Pull All-Star Game Out Of Arizona." The immigration legislation "goes contrary to the very essence" of what baseball is about. Diaz: "Here's a chance to rewrite your legacy, Mr. Selig. ... If Arizona wants to play games with racist policies, stand up for your players and tell Arizona you are packing up your bats and balls and taking the all-star show elsewhere" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/6). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes this appears to be a "relatively easy call for the commissioner: He ought to say he is taking the All-Star Game out of Phoenix" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/6). In L.A., Kevin Baxter: "Even if there are no good choices, there is an obvious one: Selig must move the game." Standing pat "runs the risk of angering his players, the union and an international fan base that Selig, more than any commissioner in any U.S. sport, has done a marvelous job cultivating" (LATIMES.com, 5/4). The NATIONAL POST's Jeremy Sandler writes, "Despite the conservative contingent among its owners, players and fans, baseball must make a statement or go down as hypocrites of the highest order. ... There are those who say Selig is right to sit this one out and leave the politics to the politicians. But civil rights are not a temporary avocation" (NATIONAL POST, 5/6).

STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE: In San Diego, Tim Sullivan wrote Selig "can't win on this one." These are issues Selig "can't hope to solve and problems where he really has no place." Sullivan: "Jesse Jackson's call for baseball to pull its 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix, and persistent media pressure for Selig to make some sweeping statement on behalf of hundreds of Latino players, seek symbolic solutions to life-and-death propositions" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/5). The Allentown Morning Call's Bill Kline wrote, "Let the courts decide the constitutionality of Arizona's new law. If the law holds up, then baseball has no grounds for a would be protest. If the law is struck down, there is no need to protest." The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers: "The bigger picture is that MLB has made so many progressive moves under the leadership of Bud Selig that it can weather any criticism on its lack of a knee-jerk reaction. ... Arizona has enough problems without MLB piling on." The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Juan Rodriguez noted the D'Backs "played no role in that misguided legislation passing," so why deny the team or "segment of baseball fans in the area who oppose it access to one of the sport's marquee events?" (LATIMES.com, 5/4). However, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams said MLB can't "bury their heads in the sand," and added that sports not getting involved in politics "is an antiquated way of thinking at this point" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 5/5). 

Gonzalez Has Said He Will Not Attend '11
All-Star Game If It Stays In Phoenix

HISPANIC PLAYERS NEED TO TAKE THE LEAD: In St. Louis, Alvin Reid wrote it is "really up to individual players ... to take action" and not MLB. Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez has stated he will not attend the '11 All-Star Game if it stays in Phoenix and the law is in effect, and Reid wrote, "If every Hispanic player -- either from America or overseas -- opted to not play in the All-Star Game, it would be a bold statement. If they could somehow convince some other players -- black, white, Asian -- to join them, you would have something going on." Hispanic players have "never challenged baseball's status quo," but this "is their chance." Reid: "If baseball is going to take action, it will be at the behest of the hundreds of Hispanic players that wear MLB uniforms" (GLOBE-DEMOCRAT.com, 5/5).

CALLING FOR SPRING TRAINING BOYCOTT: Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval yesterday said that the White Sox and other MLB teams "should pull their spring training operations out of Arizona if the state's new immigration law takes effect." Sandoval said that he "doesn't want money from Illinois taxpayers connected to Arizona." He noted that he sent a letter to White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, "asking him to move the team's spring training operations elsewhere" (SOUTHTOWN STAR, 5/6). Sandoval said of MLB's Latino players, "I thought about how they would feel as they traveled to Arizona" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 5/6). Meanwhile, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, "A couple of people asked me about it a couple of days ago -- if this thing continues in Arizona are you going to show up to spring training? Yes, because if I get fired, nobody from Arizona is going to take care of my family." Guillen acknowledged he is "very, very against the law." But he said of moving Spring Training, "That's Jerry's problem, and I don't think we have enough money to move anywhere else" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/6).

IMPACT ON OTHER EVENTS: The Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) yesterday issued a statement that it would not cancel its annual event scheduled for Phoenix later this month, but it is "likely" that it will not hold events in Arizona in the future as long as the state's controversial immigration law remains in effect. The SLA in a statement posted on its Web site yesterday said, "Many members of the Sports Lawyers Association have indicated that they strongly oppose the new Arizona immigration law and that they would probably not attend events held in Arizona in the future as long as the new law remains in effect. For this reason, the SLA board will weigh that factor in making decisions about where the SLA will hold future conferences and board meetings, and it is therefore likely that in order to provide venues at which all its members will feel comfortable, the SLA will not hold future events in Arizona while this law remains in effect." However, the SLA said in its statement the annual conference scheduled for May 20-22 will proceed, as to "cancel it at this late date would impose substantial cost on the SLA and its members" (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Filip Bondy wrote the USOC "should consider taking the initiative" to remove its endorsement of the June 5 Deuces Wild Triathlon in Show Low, Arizona (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 5/4).

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