Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declined the Texas Rangers' invitation to throw out the first pitch at their home opener on Monday, citing a reason that has nothing to do with the Rangers or the state of Texas.
In a letter he sent to the Rangers, and subsequently posted on his Twitter account, Abbott said that he will no longer participate in any MLB event because of its decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia. MLB announced on Friday that due to the voter suppression law recently passed by the Georgia legislature, it will no longer hold the 2021 All-Star Game at the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park.
Abbott says MLB perpetuating 'false narrative'
Thank you for the invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opening game. I was looking forward to it — until Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in George, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta. It is shameful that America's pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives.
Abbott takes issue with how MLB explained its decision to relocate the All-Star Game. While commissioner Rob Manfred's statement didn't specifically mention Georgia's voter suppression law, he did state that MLB "fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."
It appears that Abbott considers the "false narrative" to be that the new laws will suppress voting rights. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has said that it actually expands access to voting, and that's partially true. A close examination by the Washington Post and the Associated Press shows that the law does expand early voting on weekends and gives voters in rural areas an additional day of early voting.
However, the Post and the AP highlighted numerous other provisions that will likely make it more difficult to cast a ballot in Georgia, especially for low-income voters and voters of color. Instead of a simple signature match, anyone who votes by mail will now have to provide one of several forms of identification to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Mail-in ballots will no longer be automatically sent to all registered voters and the window to request and send mail-in ballots is shrinking significantly. The new law also makes it a misdemeanor to hand out food or water within 150 feet of a polling place (or 25 feet of an actual voter), making it harder for people to stay in long lines at polling places.
Abbott doesn't want an All-Star Game in Texas
In addition to turning down the Rangers' invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, Abbott said that the state of Texas "will not seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special event." That obviously means he doesn't want MLB to consider relocating the 2021 All-Star Game to Texas, but he appears to be taking Texas out of the running to host several future All-Star Games that have yet to be scheduled.
It's not known if Texas was being considered to host a future All-Star Game, but it's certainly possible. MLB has gone out of its way to pick teams with new stadiums to host the All-Star Game. Minute Maid Park, Miller Park (now American Family Field), Comerica Park, PNC Park, Busch Stadium, Citi Field, Target Field, Marlins Park and Nationals Park all hosted All-Star Games within five years of opening.
The newest baseball stadium in Texas is the Rangers' Globe Life Field, and Monday is the first time fans will be allowed in for a regular season game (a limited number of fans were allowed in when Globe Life Field served as the neutral site for the 2020 playoffs). The hosts for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 All-Star Games haven't been decided yet, but if the Rangers were being considered, an MLB employee is currently searching for a permanent marker to scratch them off that list.
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