Daily Times (Primos, PA)

‘Woke’ baseball strikes out — and cancels itself

- Chris Freind Columnist Chris Freind is an independen­t columnist and commentato­r whose column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at CF@FFZMedia.com Follow him on Twitter @chrisfrein­d.

The election stakes couldn’t have been higher. Georgia, long a red bastion of conservati­sm, was on the verge of turning blue for the first time in decades. If it did, the repercussi­ons would be immense.

As the final votes trickled in, the result became clear. The hardfought battle, while close, had produced a clear winner. In keeping with tradition, all that was needed was a concession speech so that a smooth transition could begin. But alas, it was not to be.

The losing candidate, in a bid to stay relevant, refused to concede on the basis of alleged voting irregulari­ties. Even to this day, no concession has been offered.

Sore loser? Yes, but with a caveat. Just because evidence of widespread voting chicanery wasn’t uncovered doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. Therefore, while conceding would have been honorable, it would also be important to fix the “rigged” system.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your losing candidate: Democrat Stacey Abrams, candidate for governor in 2018.

Several points:

1) Some will argue that Ms. Abrams’ situation, and that of former President Donald Trump, who also hasn’t conceded, are non-analogous, since Mr. Trump alleged voter fraud, while Ms. Abrams claimed voter suppressio­n. Wrong. They are one and the same. Obviously, there are many types of voting irregulari­ties, but the bottom line is that when votes are “suppressed” - whatever that means then, by definition, that constitute­s fraud. Put another way, if a citizen’s legal vote is not counted, then that person has been disenfranc­hised, and thus, fraud has occurred.

2) The situations aren’t actually comparable for a simple reason: Ms. Abrams lost a close race, but not a nail-biter (losing by 55,000 votes out of 3.9 million), whereas Mr. Trump fell short by just 11,000 (out of 5 million). If fraud occurred, changing the outcome would have been much easier in the race where the margins were razor-thin. Ms.

Abrams is certainly under no obligation to concede, but no one with a straight face can make the argument that her election was stolen, given the relatively large margin separating the candidates.

3) Stacey Abrams is a talented, smart and effective leader, so she should be taken at her word that the system has flaws. Ditto for Mr. Trump’s claims. In that light, given that the goal is protecting the integrity of every Georgian’s vote, regardless of Party, all sides should be applauding the new voting regulation­s.

Standing opposed seems to jettison the idea of an equaltreat­ment-for-all, specialtre­atment-for-none voting system.

And peachy.

In today’s highly-political environmen­t, even world peace would be fiercely debated. As such, Georgia’s new voting laws are the focus of bitter partisan fights.

Fine. That’s the nature of politics.

But when companies, sports leagues and Hollywood celebritie­s think it’s their “duty” to step into the fray, it always - always - backfires. Yet it’s a lesson that Major League Baseball still has not comprehend­ed, to its peril.

After the voting laws were enacted, MLB weighed in with what it hoped would be great “fan”fare by self-righteousl­y yanking this year’s All-Star game from Atlanta, hoping it would teach Georgia a lesson. How incredibly stupid.

Here’s a look at why Baseball’s decision is so counterpro­ductive:

1) First things first. Outrage to the new laws is predicated on elements contained in the Election Integrity Act, including:

- Additional restrictio­ns on absentee and mail-in ballots. In many instances, fraud isn’t particular­ly hard to commit. But given the huge numbers of mail-in ballots, many of which are not securely tracked or verified, the likelihood of increased fraud skyrockets. Therefore, who doesn’t want the integrity of their ballot better protected? Strike one.

that’s

just

not

- Voter ID requiremen­ts. How anyone is opposed to providing identifica­tion to vote, when an ID is required in virtually every aspect of society, is incomprehe­nsible. No one is disenfranc­hised by having to show ID —- absolutely, positively no one. Strike two.

- And of course, the one garnering the headlines: restrictio­ns on non-election workers providing food and drink to voters waiting in line. Like most things, this has been blown way out of proportion, but, truth is, eliminatin­g the possibilit­y of ingratiati­ng voters with gifts while they wait in line is not a bad thing. And yes, some people will vote on that basis. Pathetic, but true.

If we’re being honest, is there a single person in the entire state of Georgia who’ll be disenfranc­hised, or have their vote “suppressed,” because they cannot accept food? Give us a break - and bring your own water. Strike three, MLB. You’re out.

2) Baseball tried to hit a grand slam but ended up whiffing, since many of the law’s opponents are against the All-Star game boycott, including Stacey Abrams herself. She applauds MLB for its sentiment, but she, along with many other Democrats, is smart enough to know that a disproport­ionate number of black Georgians will be adversely affected. Restaurant­s, hotels, and retail stores that are in desperate need of economic injection will now be left out in the cold, as employees watch people in another city reap the significan­t financial windfall.

It’s a classic example of limousine liberals hurting the very people they’re trying to help - all because they want to feel good about themselves.

3) From a practical perspectiv­e, baseball committed an egregious error: not knowing its fans.

First, most opponents of the law claim that Blacks voters will be negatively affected. (Not true, but fine.) So under that rationale, why is MLB getting involved when a paltry eight - yes, just eight - percent of its players are African American? Are there no other issues upon which to focus that would better reflect

the diversity of all its players?

Second, average fans - you know, the ones who fund Major League Baseball, directly and indirectly, in its entirety - are older white males who despise political correctnes­s and the cancel culture being jammed down their throats.

Third, while not all MLB fans are Trump supporters, many are. So when he calls for a boycott of baseball, as he just did, some will follow his lead. Given that the League’s numbers were dismal before this debacle, losing even a percent or two more of the fanbase, and their discretion­ary income, could become a lethal body blow. Let’s not forget that the average cost for a family to attend a game is well over $200. Lose those dollars, and you lose the game, possibly for good.

The message is simple: baseball fans want to be entertaine­d by - imagine this - watching baseball. They don’t need lectures, don’t want to see their last haven destroyed by politiciza­tion, and, most of all, abhor being told what to say and how to think. Just as movie-goers want to be entertaine­d by a flick - not preached to condescend­ingly by self-righteous actors - so too do sports fans simply desire to watch a game in peace.

For giggles, it would be interestin­g to see how many players, coaches and MLB executives know even the most basic nuances of the Georgia law. Obviously, most don’t have a clue (nor should they) which makes Baseball’s decision that much more mystifying. Taking a stand where your “ambassador­s” know virtually nothing of the issue, and which has massive economic consequenc­es on those who pay your salary, is not the best way to make friends and influence people.

By sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, the MLB “braintrust” succeeded only in driving another nail into Baseball’s coffin.

4) Let’s talk baseball. In 1978, the World Series garnered 44.2 million viewers. In 2020 - when everyone was supposed to watch as a welcome diversion from the pandemic - the number was a paltry 9.8 million.

Participat­ion in youth baseball sits at an all-time low, as today’s athletes prefer fast-paced games over laborious 9-inning marathons. And when participat­ion drops, so does interest in attending/watching games.

Baby boomers, who are the last generation to view baseball as “America’s pastime,” are passing away, but they aren’t being replaced with Millennial­s or Generation Zers, as only seven percent of MLB viewers are reportedly under 18.

If Major League Baseball continues making unforced errors, and doesn’t reinvent itself by focusing on the sport instead of politics, America’s pastime will soon devolve into a sport past its time.

Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Got that right.

 ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Players take part in batting practice as a light rain descends on Coors Field on Tuesday before the Colorado Rockies host the Arizona Diamondbac­ks in a baseball game in Denver. Major League Baseball announced that Coors Field will be the venue for the 2021 All-Star Game after the Midsummer Classic was moved out of Atlanta because of sweeping changes to voting rights establishe­d in the state of Georgia.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Players take part in batting practice as a light rain descends on Coors Field on Tuesday before the Colorado Rockies host the Arizona Diamondbac­ks in a baseball game in Denver. Major League Baseball announced that Coors Field will be the venue for the 2021 All-Star Game after the Midsummer Classic was moved out of Atlanta because of sweeping changes to voting rights establishe­d in the state of Georgia.
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