May 3, 2010

The draconian Arizona law SB 1070 is finally reaching the players of MLB. San Diego's slugging starter Adrian Gonzalez has come out publicly and said that he will not play the 2011 All Star game if the law goes into effect. The outrage that we've felt over this barbaric law has filtered down to into The Sports Villagers now, because on ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show they spent a lot of time discussing this topic, and it is raging.

The time is a-coming for Bud Selig to take a stand on this issue. Baseball has already proven that it can be a leader in advancing civil rights in America, so this should be right up their alley. The MLB have a hugely profitable Cactus League in Arizona where 15 teams us their facilities for Spring Training games, and they also host Arizona fall-league games. It's a yearlong operation. Studies have shown that the MLB is comprised of as much as 27 percent Latino players, and the league's 9 percent African Americans could be targeted by the new law as well.

It's even more pronounced among the minor league teams playing in Arizona. Mike Golic reported that the minors are made up of about 48 percent Hispanics. Baseball is a year-round proposition for Arizona and MLB. Mike and Mike brought on ESPN's baseball resident expert, Buster Olney, to discuss it:

Mike: There's a law in Arizona that allow a law enforcement official to question the immigration status of a person and if they suspect that person is in the country unlawfully. It's a highly controversial law and certainly people feel strongly perhaps on both sides of the that issue.

There are a lot of people in baseball who feel very opposed to the law and are making public stand against the law. Including Adrian Gonzalez, who says if the All Star Game, which is scheduled in Arizona next year, is played here, he won't play there. Ozzie Guillen spoke against it. The Players Association has spoken publicly and I have seen there is some pressure on the commissioner, Bud Selig, to consider moving the All Star Game from Arizona if nothing is done about it. Buster, what are you hearing around baseball and how big an issue does this become for the sport in the coming days and weeks?

Olney: I think it absolutely will become a big issue and the drumbeats of change will get a lot of help from the players. As guys like Adrien Gonzalez come out and say this something that is important to him and they talk about it, this is something that Bud Selig is going to have to consider. And knowing how he handles these issues -- first off, he'll take a strong look at the thing. He'll look at both sides and he's someone who will listen to the voices of the people of the game.

So I do think that as weeks go by this will be something we'll be talking about more, about the possibility that the All Star Game being moved out of Arizona.

Golic: Do you think a sport should care about what's going on outside the world of sports and that that would impact their decision?

Olney: well I certainly think its a big issue for them. Players are simply not going to play in the game if they're going to refuse to play in the sport, it's something they have to take a strong look at. And for that reason alone I think it's something that they have to consider.

This issue is not going away and Selig has a chance to make a bold move and denounce the law. More and more players will begin to speak out. They should understand that they will be threatened endlessly by the movement conservatives and teabaggers for their brave choice. The players should know that we have their backs. Can you image what Jackie Robinson would have faced had here been the right-wing noise machine of 2010 aimed at his face? The racist abuse he took to open the door for the next player to pass through was insane and costly.

Mike Lupica writes a great column in the NY Daily News about this situation.


blockquote>Arizona's idiotic new immigration law does not officially go into effect until August, 90 days after the current legislative session ends in that state. That means for the next three months, a big new sport in this country will be watching big politicians try to run away from this issue, starting with the President of the United States. Maybe all of them are waiting for the whole thing to end up in front of the Supreme Court.

In the short run, however, the only way to stop a political hustler like Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer is for other politicians in her state - and that ought to start with Sen. John McCain - to come to their senses about a bad law that invites racial profiling even though Brewer insists it will not.

And if it can't be stopped, if it does go into effect three months from now, then Major League Baseball ought to announce that a sport in which 30% of the players are Hispanic will not hold the 2011 All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Selig has a perfect right to say that if the law stands, then the All-Star Game goes somewhere else.

"Major League Baseball needs to revisit the issue of whether the All-Star Game, one of America's greatest exports to Latin America, should be played in a state that doesn't show any respect to Latinos," Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) said to the Daily News' Juan Gonzalez the other day.

There is a historical precedent to all this, of course, and it involves another dim-bulb governor of Arizona and voters who backed his play. The governor was the late Evan Mecham, who decided that Martin Luther King Day had been "illegally certified" as a national holiday, and refused to acknowledge it as such in his state. Mecham, by the way, would be impeached and removed from office a year later, the impeachment charges against him including obstruction and misuse of government funds.

Another Arizona political legend.

Legislation to establish the King holiday in Arizona was passed by the Arizona legislature in 1989, but opponents managed to create a ballot initiative the next year. It was voted down. And after it was, the National Football League pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona, what was to be the first Super Bowl in the history of the state, and moved it to the Rose Bowl


Nobody is saying that all law enforcement officers in Arizona will now consider themselves empowered to harass illegals for sport. We keep hearing that the definition of "reasonable suspicion" does not include pinching Latinos for sport. But Gov. Jan Brewer and her supporters are not living in this world if they don't see the whole thing as an open invitation to racial profiling. One that does nothing to solve the growing immigration problem in this country.

Though it sure does gives white politicians a chance to look good and tough here, and more patriotic than the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brewer, of course, is the same governor who recently signed Senate Bill 1108 into law in Arizona. That one eliminates the requirement for a concealed-carry weapons permit in her state. You wonder which of these two laws she really thinks makes Arizona a safer place, that one or the one where you are now in a bit of peril for being brown

Though it sure does gives white politicians a chance to look good and tough here, and more patriotic than the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brewer, of course, is the same governor who recently signed Senate Bill 1108 into law in Arizona. That one eliminates the requirement for a concealed-carry weapons permit in her state. You wonder which of these two laws she really thinks makes Arizona a safer place, that one or the one where you are now in a bit of peril for being brown.

Obviously, with as many as a half-million undocumented immigrants in Arizona alone, the state is facing a serious problem, one that seems to get worse by the day. Obviously there is an urgent, pressing need for immigration reform in this country. Obviously Obama thought that the economy and health-care were more important.


Bud Selig is a student of history with a passion for politics, anybody who knows him at all knows that. Here is a chance for baseball to be out front. The commissioner doesn't have to pull the All-Star Game out of Arizona now. He can wait to see if other politicians in that state can come to their senses even if Jan Brewer won't. He can wait to see if the people being polled in Arizona, the 70% who say they are in favor of the new law come to their senses.

For now, all he has to do is give Arizona a deadline. Lay it out so even Jan Brewer understands. If that law really does go into law in a few month, the All-Star Game goes, too.

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