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  • Jerome Kocher

29. Baseball Died on Good Friday

Thursday, April 1, was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. I was tentatively excited to put the strife of last year behind me. Baseball used to be called America’s Pastime before the advent of television elevated the visual action of football to that status. Baseball was built for radio. You can listen to it and still multitask while doing other projects.

So Thursday morning on Opening Day I “listened” to sports-talk and pre-game interviews about the San Francisco Giants on my KNBR app. In the afternoon I listened to the San Diego Padres versus the Arizona Diamondbacks game on my MLB app. Gone were the days of holding a transistor radio while riding my bicycle at the same time.

But I was still tentative. Last year professional sports took a nose dive into politics with ceremonial and ritual applauding for the racist and self-described Marxist organization of BLM. Players wore social justice platitude-slogans on their backs. Even courts and fields were painted with political graffiti. And before games started, players had to kneel down to show their solidarity with political correctness. They have a right to protest, but so do fans. So I, like millions of other fans, turned them “off.” Our love of sports as a healthy distraction from life’s responsibilities had been poisoned like some Greek Tragedy. So with some hesitation, I tuned back in on Thursday hoping both of us could turn the corner, maybe move on from a perceived betrayal.

The first day was like a first date. It went well, even with an imagined make-up kiss at the end. But on the following day news broke that Major League Baseball had announced it would cancel this year’s All-Star Game in Atlanta, Georgia and move it to another site. Why? The political Left had forced it to protest Georgia’s new election integrity laws. MLB did not say specifically what they disagreed with, but only that they supported voter access using vague language to paint Georgia as some red-neck racist. Major League Baseball said it would not support racial discrimination. Delta Airlines and Coca Cola, both based in Georgia, also fell prey to political pressure threatened by the Left with potential boycotts and smears. They too needed to bow down to the altar. To be honest, these corporations don’t really believe this. As centers of profit in a business world, they just don’t want to be “mugged” or “shamed” on social media. If they make a statement, it’s a ransom payment to get their reputation back from being kidnapped. They get to move on.

But even worse, the President’s public words gave them perfect cover. He said what they didn’t. He lamented how horrible it was that the new Georgia laws prevented people from giving water or food to voters waiting in line. Polling stations would close early at 5pm when people would still be at work. Voter suppression is the rally cry. And these injustices cannot be tolerated. So the Board Rooms and Baseball Diamonds marched in lock step with the President. If these allegations are true, who wouldn’t agree. But are they true? No. At best, they are dishonest representations. At worst, totally false.

Lie #1. Denying food and water to voters.

Georgia law says that candidates or campaigners cannot approach voting lines on voting day to solicit their vote or encourage their vote by giving them “gifts.” That’s considered voter harassment and is illegal. Politicians and their staff have to stay a specified distance away from the polls. Politicians can’t go up to voter lines and hand out free water bottles. Absolutely not. Whether direct or indirect, this is considered a “bribe.” Georgia law defines the proper distance at 125 feet for campaigners to not interact with voters. So for the President to say that you can’t give water or food to voters is intellectually dishonest. It’s a lie. Poll workers, friends, family, even strangers can go out and give water or food to voters all they want to. But not politicians. For the record, Joe Biden’s own state of Delaware has the same law prohibiting electioneering campaign workers from giving out water to voters in line. And Biden is not condemning Delaware!

Lie # 2. Polls close at 5pm.

Georgia law mandates voting poll times on Election Day from 7am to 7pm across the whole state. The President is wrong to say they are closed at 5pm for working people. That’s a lie. What he is twisting is the rule on early voting days. In the past on early pre-election days some polls would close early when nobody was any longer coming. The new Georgia law expands access and says on Early Voting Days you must stay open till at least 5pm, even if no one comes. That is totally different than saying polls close at 5pm for workers on Election Day. It’s a lie.

Lie #3. Voter suppression of Blacks?

More Blacks voted in the last election than ever before in Georgia’s history. And then there’s the accusation that voting is closed on Sundays to disenfranchise many Blacks who would like to vote after attending their Baptist Church services (stereotype?). The truth is that in the previous years Sundays had the lowest turnout for Early Voting Days. People didn’t come. Saturdays had the biggest turnout. So yes, Georgia law says that Sundays will be closed for Early Voting, but to avoid any inconvenience or suppression, Georgia adds an extra Saturday to Early Voting Days to make the polls more available. This law accommodates the people, but does not suppress. Georgia has at least 17 Early Voting Days. New York has only 10. Will MLB boycott itself because it is based in New York?

The only argument left to make against the Georgia election laws is you don’t agree that voters should show some form of ID to preserve the integrity of the process. In Mexico you must have a specific Voter ID card. Canada, France, Germany, Brazil along with at least eleven other major nations have voter ID mandates. Make the argument that they are all racist, then come back and attack Georgia. Senator Rand Paul says it best when he states that “Your sports league may be a little too woke if it will freely do business with Communists in China and Cuba, but boycotts a state that wants people to show an ID to vote.” And unfortunately, Delta, United, Southwest and American Airlines have also been bullied into condemning Georgia while you cannot board any of their planes without a valid ID. Hypocritical?

But it gets worse. The President compares the Georgia voting law to the restrictions of Jim Crow Laws of the past. Jim Crow represents “separate drinking fountains,” segregated schools and transportation, voting poll taxes, and the “grandfather clause,” not to mention the lynching and terrorizing by the KKK. For the President to put current Georgia voting law in the same category is shameful and irresponsible. And the President encouraged Major League Baseball to punish Georgia by pulling their 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta. So they did!

And all this happened last Friday, April 2, on Good Friday. For those of you who were born in a “secular only” America, Good Friday commemorates the day Christ was crucified and killed based on false political charges that he was a danger to the people.

Baseball is not dead. But for me, last Friday, something died. Will there be a resurrection? I don’t know. Baseball is only human, even if they can bat .300. I still like Baseball. I will always love Buster Posey of the Giants who actually hit an official home run on opening day, unlike Cody Bellinger. But in the past it used to be that large organized crime syndicates would shake down small business owners for protection money. Today it’s reversed. A small group of radical activists hold major corporations hostage by demanding they pay tribute to their lies with statements of solidarity. MLB should rather consider solidarity with its fans because I, like millions of others, will go out on strike for yet another lost season.

Georgia is not a danger to the people. On the contrary, their election laws should be a model for other states to follow to preserve integrity in the election process. But the lies are loud and threatening. And the mob grew larger on Good Friday.

For Major League Baseball . . . Thursday was Opening Day. Friday was Closing Day.

And I thought last season was short.

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