You mean to say that a baseball franchise with a racially insensitive name, which does all it can to harm any argument that their name isn’t just insensitive, but outright racist, by encouraging its fans to do racist chants; which moved out of team’s location name’s urban core and into another county, in order to cater to its white fans, while positioning the ballpark better for driving than mass transit; which relegated a memorial patch for the greatest player in team history to a tiny number on the back of its caps, rather than a sleeve patch…
…that team booted its response to Major League Baseball moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta?!
“The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”
There is no discussion.
Georgia’s new voting restriction law is wrong and a flatly racist reaction by the Republicans who remain in office in the state legislature and governor’s office to the fact that Joe Biden won the state in November, and then Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won Senate runoffs in January. Governor Brian Kemp, who you may remember as the man who got into office by abusing his power as secretary of state to edge Stacey Abrams in the 2018 election, knows that he and his right-wing goons can’t command a majority of the votes, so rather than try to appeal to more voters, they want to deny enough people the vote that they can stay in power.
But this isn’t about Kemp, it’s about the baseball team, which last week said it was hoping to have a full stadium by June, which is lockstep with Kemp loosening public health restrictions at a time when COVID-19 is far from done in Georgia. The capacity is set to be expanded to 50 percent on April 23, which, having seen the mask-wearing rates at last year’s stadium playoff watch party, yikes.
Has the stadium been utilized as a mass vaccination site? No.
More importantly to this discussion, was the ballpark an early voting site? No.
Did team chairman Terrence McGuirk give $2,500 to David Perdue last September, helping fund his failed re-election campaign against Ossoff? Yes.
Did the president and CEO of the team’s business arm, Mike Plant, donate $2,000 apiece in 2019 to Perdue and the person in America responsible for voting rights legislation being stalled at the federal level, Mitch McConnell? You bet he did.
So, of course, the team’s statement was to disavow any involvement in the decision, rather than to stand with Major League Baseball and push for democracy and racial equality in Georgia. The words they put out as a reaction mirrored the message from the irrelevant loser who used to own the Atlanta Dream. The team is not for democracy and racial equality in Georgia. And they won’t get a national stage this summer to use Hank Aaron and pretend like they do.
There are arguments to be made, and Abrams has made them, that boycotting Georgia is not the right response to the new legislation. The team tried to play on this with its statement that “Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.” But that’s just as disingenuous as all the rest of the talk from Atlanta management.
When you move your team to the suburbs for the specific purpose of getting away from Black people, you don’t get to act like stripping a big event from your ballpark is going to hurt Black people. And the once-in-a-generation event can still return to Atlanta in a few years, just as the Super Bowl came back to Arizona once the state finally recognized Martin Luther King Day as a holiday.
Atlanta’s baseball team has made it clear where it stands. As usual, it’s on the wrong side.