There may be a good-faith argument to be had about the efficacy of MLB moving the All-Star Game out of Georgia. While moving the Super Bowl helped press Arizona to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday, and the NBA’s retraction of its All-Star Game from Charlotte played a role in getting parts of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” rolled back, it could be that the situation in 2021 is different, and the harm to people not responsible for Georgia’s voting restriction law outweighs the benefit of increasing pressure on Georgia lawmakers to reverse course.
The problem is, the side railing against the harm caused by MLB’s decision is not exactly operating in good faith. On Saturday, the Daily Wire published a piece headlined “Black Business Owner Slams MLB For Moving All-Star Game From Atlanta: ‘We May Lose Even More.’”
This piece was really just a regurgitation of a Washington Free Beacon piece from a day earlier, headlined “Small-Business Owners Slam MLB Commish for Moving All-Star Game.”
The Free Beacon’s headline is wrong, as only one small business owner, the “Black Business Owner” from the Daily Wire headline, is quoted in the story. There’s also the misleading nugget that Atlanta is a majority Black city, which, while true, does not mean all that much when the baseball stadium is in 62 percent white Cobb County, and was built there specifically to make it easier for the white fanbase to get there.
Getting there is where the quoted business owner comes in. The right-wing outlets are giddy to point out that Darrell Anderson is Black and owns a limousine business in Atlanta. According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets database, Anderson has mostly been an active donor to Democratic campaigns, including Lucy McBath, but his last political spending was $1,500 to Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) last November.
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For that donation, Anderson listed his business as ASG, LLC (Airport Shuttle Group) — one of at least three companies, along with A National Limousine and New Day Productions (which doesn’t seem to have any online presence beyond being incorporated with the state of Georgia), that is registered to the same address in Atlanta, between the airport and downtown. Anderson makes his home in the posh suburb of Decatur, in DeKalb County. It’s more than a little bit disingenuous to act like this criticism of MLB is coming from shoe-leather reporting on the ground in Atlanta, talking to representative small business owners who peddle their wares near the stadium. This is one guy, whose primary business is luxury transportation, unhappy that All-Stars won’t be coming through his home airport.
The other person quoted criticizing MLB is Alfredo Ortiz, “president of a small-business advocacy group known as the Job Creators Network.” Surprise, surprise, Ortiz has written op-eds for Breitbart advocating for the re-election of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, and on the first full day of the Biden Administration, ripping the COVID-19 relief plan. Ortiz also has written for Fox News to criticize the boycott of Goya Foods after its CEO’s lusty support of Donald Trump. Ortiz’s Fox News bio page calls the Job Creators Network “a non-partisan organization,” which stands in contrast to Wikipedia’s description of it as “a conservative U.S. advocacy group.”
In 2017, Media Matters For America took a closer look at JCN and reported on its funding by the Mercer Family Foundation, run by Breitbart owner Rebekah Mercer. Ortiz has been there since 2014, according to his LinkedIn page, which also touts his time (alongside that Goya CEO, Bob Unanue) as a commissioner for the Trump White House’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.
Where there’s at least an argument that, yes, Anderson’s business will be hurt by the All-Star Game moving (though when and if Atlanta gets it back in a couple of years, he’ll get that bump), but to present Ortiz as something other than a conservative factotum is purposely dishonest.
The All-Star Game celebrates all that is good about baseball — the crack of the bat, the smell of the grass. This, pure and simple, is AstroTurf.