Feathered Bastard

Bud Selig Needs to Move 2011 All-Star Game or Risk Tsunami of Protests

Undoubtedly many of you have seen the latest action by anti-SB 1070 demonstrators urging Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to nix the 2011 All-Star Game scheduled for Phoenix's Chase Field and hold it at another location.

About three dozen protesters demonstrated against the Arizona Diamondbacks during their Sunday game versus the Washington Nationals at Nats Park in D.C. Four demonstrators ran onto the field during the fifth inning, with two of the four attempting to unfurl a banner before being nabbed by security guards.

It was one of many such demonstrations and banner unfurlings at D-backs games both inside and outside of Arizona. Though Selig has declined to move the game so far, opposition to the All-Star Game taking place in Phoenix has garnered strident opposition.

The Web site movethegame.org has been documenting the protests and encouraging people to copycat. Presente.org says it's scored over 100,000 signatures for its petition to Bud Selig to block the game happening in Phoenix.

Several Major League Baseball players have expressed opposition to SB 1070, and their willingness to boycott the game. The National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino advocacy group, has joined the call. Congressmen have echoed it, and back before much of the law was enjoined by District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton, the MLB Players Association expressed opposition to SB 1070 as it stood at the time.

Though Bolton's gutting of the most problematic parts of the law may give some people second thoughts about an Arizona boycott and the effort to move the game (Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva has already called for the boycott's end), this is no time for activists and civil rights organizations to ease up.

The pressure, and protests, must continue. It's estimated that the All-Star Game would pump $60 million into the local economy. Stopping that influx of dollars would send an unequivocal message that SB 1070 and the harassment of Hispanics in this state is un-American and will not be overlooked.

Many have suggested that the protests of the Arizona Diamondbacks are futile and convince no one. Indeed, in video of Sunday's action, the crowd can clearly be heard booing the demonstrators and cheering their arrests. 

But to say that Selig and others will be unmoved by such defiance is incorrect, and I'll tell you why: The specter of civil disobedience and protests that will mirror what happened here in Phoenix on July 29, when what was left of SB 1070 went into effect and the community took to the streets.

Fans coming to a 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix will be met with chanting protesters, many of whom may be willing to be arrested as part of their demonstrations. And despite all the security money can provide, I'd place bets on the game being disrupted by activists.

Leading up to next July, when the All-Star Game is scheduled to occur, each banner unfurled, each raucous demonstration, each run onto a baseball field in the midst of a game, is a taste of what the 2011 All-Star Game, if it's held in Phoenix, will bring.

Such actions are also a reminder to the players who've expressed opposition to SB 1070 that they should boycott the game, as some of them have promised.

For Selig, these protests are a clear warning of what lies ahead and the outrage Major League Baseball will encounter in Phoenix and elsewhere if the game goes forth as planned.

There's a simple away to avoid the politicization of America's sport: Pull the game from Phoenix. Then folks can enjoy it minus all the anger. Otherwise, anger is what you'll get.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons