Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s announcement that he is moving the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver entangles himself in his own hypocrisy.
Manfred wrongfully blames Georgia’s recently enacted “Election Integrity Act of 2021” for his arbitrary action. His decision makes as much legal sense as me, an election law attorney and member of the Federal Election Commission, trying to change a hitter’s swing.
For more than 150 years, baseball has been a unifier and leader for all Americans through war, economic depression, and major financial and social movements. Baseball broke the color barrier in professional sports. A large part of baseball’s appeal was that it led; it did not follow, and certainly did not cower to a loud, spoiled and out-of-touch elite that cares little about baseball’s or American’s past, present or future.
Commissioner Manfred claims he moved the All-Star Game because Georgia’s recently enacted “Election Integrity Act” is “racist”, although he fails to give specifics on how the law is racist. Indeed, he cannot, as the law applies to every Georgia citizen 18 and older, black, white, Asian, native-American and Hispanic. The law expands voting hours and only prohibits political partisans from providing gifts to voters in line. While Manfred is a lawyer, it does not appear he read the statute or researched Georgia’s voting procedure or the voting laws of other states.
The clear wording of the statute contradicts Manfred’s criticism. Georgia EXPANDED the time to vote to include three Saturdays and two Sundays. Similarly, the hours of voting during the day are not diminished.
Moreover, the new law removes the Georgia Secretary of State as the head election official and allows the Georgia legislature, the body authorized under the U.S. Constitution to direct elections, to appoint a five-member board to oversee local election officials. The law even guarantees at least one ballot drop box per county, which required executive action due the pandemic for the 2020 election.
As to Colorado, it also requires some form of voter identification to receive a ballot. And, just as in Georgia, candidates on the ballot are not allowed to provide food and drink to voters in line. In the end, Manfred took the All-Star game from Georgia to a state with almost identical election laws.
Manfred’s hypocrisy is just as clear. The Commissioner requires that every ticket purchaser have an ID to buy tickets and clear a magnetometer and/or be searched to enter every ballpark. All purses must be clear plastic and are subject to be searched.
Manfred’s actions reveal that he does not trust the average baseball fan. Baseball tickets are electronically secured, yet he’s offended when the State of Georgia legally implements even small measures designed to protect and secure ALL voters’ rights. While Manfred acknowledges fraud occurs in the purchase and transmission of baseball tickets, he denies fraud could ever be possible with voting. Without requiring voter identification, any voter could present themselves as any person listed on the voter role. What would be Manfred’s response if he showed up to vote on Election Day only to learn that someone had already used his name to vote?
Manfred’s rules for everyone else do not apply to his own life. For example, Manfred belongs to Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, a club that for most of its existence did not allow women or people of color as members or guests. Not surprising for a hypocrite, there’s no mention of him resigning his coveted, prestigious golf club membership. He speaks against imaginary racism in securing elections, yet he is involved in an organization that has a history of racism and sexism.
It gets worse. Manfred commented that the Georgia law was not in accord with MLB’s “values.” However, Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton exposed him. Manfred is talking to Communist Chinese officials to further expand professional baseball into the totalitarian country where there are no voting rights. As Senator Cotton rhetorically asked, “Hey @MLB, how many early voting days are allowed in China?” The truth is, he doesn’t really care about secure elections or freedom to vote. He appears to be more interested in expanding his network to a country that does not respect individual liberty, much less the sacred right of citizens to elect their leaders.
How far will Manfred extend MLB’s newly enunciated “values”? Will he require a certain number of owners to sell their teams to minorities and women to reflect the percentage of those demographics in the United States? Will he use ancestry as an ownership bar? Where does this analysis logically end?
Speaking as an attorney and baseball fan, I think most would join me in urging MLB to concentrate on finding more unifying ways to promote its great game.
James E. “Trey” Trainor III was nominated by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate on May 19, 2020. He was appointed to a term ending April 30, 2023. Commissioner Trainor, of Driftwood, Texas, has practiced law for two decades, particularly in the areas of election law, campaign finance law and ethics. He has served as General Counsel to the Texas Secretary of State and Counsel to the Texas House Committee on Regulated Industries, has represented the Texas Republican Party, and two presidential campaigns.