SBD/July 11, 2011/Events and Attractions

MLBPA Has Not Encouraged All-Star Game Boycott; Demonstrators Prepare Protests

MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner on Friday issued a second statement on the controversial Arizona immigration law that has been likened by many to racial profiling. Weiner decried the law last year, but with key portions of the measure now tied up in federal legal disputes, he said Friday that he has not advised players to boycott this week’s All-Star Game events in Phoenix. The game “is a chance to celebrate Major League Baseball’s unprejudiced commitment to excellence -- a commitment, undiminished for decades, to judge solely on the basis of individual ability and achievement,” Weiner said. Several protests and a ribbon campaign are still planned near and around All-Star Game events this week to raise awareness of the SB 1070 immigration law. But Weiner in his statement said, “Our nation continues to wrestle with serious issues regarding immigration, prejudice and the protection of individual liberties. Those matters will not be resolved at Chase Field, or on any baseball diamond; instead they will be addressed in Congress and in statehouses and in courts” (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale notes Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez was “among several players who attacked Arizona’s immigration initiative, SB 1070, a year ago, saying he would consider boycotting the All-Star Game if it wasn’t moved out” of the state. Gonzalez has since said that he will “decline to answer all questions on the subject in” today’s news conference. Gonzalez: “What I said was misinterpreted. At the time, I didn’t know much about the law. I still don’t. It’s not something I’m even going to get into” (USA TODAY, 7/11).

LOUD AND CLEAR: In L.A., Kevin Baxter reported Somos America, Arizona’s largest immigrant-rights coalition, will “have a presence outside Chase Field” and in front of “the Phoenix Convention Center, where the concurrent FanFest” is being held. Somos America President Luis Avila said the demonstrators will be asking people to wear white ribbons to “take a stand against divisive hate-based legislation.” Baxter noted that is a "far cry from what they were asking for a year ago, when Commissioner Bud Selig was being pressured to move the game out of Arizona.” Baseball officials said that “relocating the game was considered but rejected because it was unlikely to affect the Arizona law” (L.A. TIMES, 7/10). In N.Y., George Vecsey reports MLB has “given signals that the players are free to air their personal opinions during the All-Star celebration." Avila said that he “expected some of the many Latino players in the game to wear ribbons on their street clothes and to speak out against the bill” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). In an Op-Ed piece from today’s ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Avila writes, “We are asking fans, athletes and coaches to wear white ribbons in support of this cause” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/11).

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