Oh Atlanta …

Moving the All-Star Game from Georgia trips the usual triggers

MLB’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game festivities and the amateur draft from Atlanta as a reaction to a recent state election law disappointed me. I’m almost ready to move on.

But not quite. Predictably, the move drove most people back to their partisan corners. For the right, MLB fell victim to the woke mobs, who didn’t care about the substance of the new Georgia law so long as they could portray it, as falsely characterized by President Biden, as “Jim Crow on steroids.” For the left, MLB showed rare courage by taking a stand against voter suppression, especially in a city that was home to Martin Luther King Jr., and the late, great Henry Aaron.

For me, and maybe others, it’s complicated.

As a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, I was glad MLB initially kept the game in Atlanta. It was scheduled there last year … and then COVID temporarily shut down the sport. MLB didn’t punish the Braves for something beyond its control.

Moreover, playing the game in Atlanta in 2021 would have been especially poignant. Not only had baseball’s greatest all-round player recently passed, two other Hall of Famers with Atlanta ties died since the 2019 All Star Game — knuckleballing pitcher Phil Niekro and longtime broadcaster Don Sutton, who won 324 games pitching for the Dodgers, Brewers, Angels, and A’s. Bill Bartholomay, the owner who moved the team from Milwaukee in 1966, establishing the first major sports franchise in the former Confederacy and bolstering Atlanta’s claim to be “the city too busy to hate,” died in March 2020.

Honors were on tap for all four.

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Maybe Milwaukee will get the game instead. At least the four recently departed Braves icons could get some of their due.

I’m annoyed with the left’s dunking on the new Georgia election law by misrepresenting much of it (and largely ignoring parts that are problematic.). This thread from Will Saletan, referring to an analysis by Georgia Public Broadcasting, sets things in perspective.

As does this analysis by my friend Wally Olson at The Dispatch, in which he makes this shockingly sensible observation: 

If the terrain over which people are bickering is solidly within the range of election law considered normal a half dozen years ago, it’s probably not a return of Jim Crow, nor is it likely to spell the end of American democracy. And most of the bickering — on measures likely to pass — is on stuff like this.

That's a related point: Keep your eye mostly on the bills state legislatures pass, not the flotsam any old lawmaker may happen to introduce. Everyday coverage of the doings in state capitals typically spends little time counting the sheer number of bills filed on a topic. There’s a good reason for that. Any backbencher in a state capital can introduce a bill that will never pass or even be seriously considered.

I get annoyed with folks on the right who dunk on MLB by saying it would be hypocritical to place the All-Star Game in a state with more restrictive voting laws than Georgia’s. (Conservatives assume the game will go to a state run by Democrats, of course. They may be correct.)

Why? What difference would that make? 

So long as you believe in federalism, it shouldn’t matter if Georgia allows more days and hours of early voting than other potential host states, such as New York, Wisconsin, or Massachusetts. Shouldn’t voters and the elected officials in those states make those decisions? 

Don’t you oppose H.R. 1, the Democrat-sponsored omnibus voting bill, precisely because it would nationalize election operations? (To be sure, as I noted here, many congressional Republicans may oppose the way H.R. 1 nationalizes elections because it’s a Democratic bill. They’re quite happy to propose their own Washington takeover of voting.)

Nor is the loss of the game necessarily a loser for Atlanta’s economy. Economist and baseball fan J.C. Bradbury (a great Twitter follow) has remained a constant critic of the “studies” showing the positive economic impacts of sporting events, conventions, and the like as evidence boosters use to support tax subsidies for stadiums, hotels, and the like.

Bradbury has railed against the development deal leading to the Battery, the Cobb County (not Atlanta) site where the Braves’ Truist Park sits. Here’s the text of a presentation he gave last year to an economics conference.

My old friend John Hood recently wrote about these studies and how they ignore opportunity costs more generally here.

For now, I’ll write off this kerfuffle as added confirmation that we’re expected to look at everything through a tribal filter.

And hope the Braves start scoring some runs.

Shameless self-promotion

Tuesday and Thursday (April 6 and 8), from 3 to 5 p.m., I’ll be co-hosting the Triangle’s Afternoon News on WPTF FM 98.5, AM 680 with my friend and former John Locke Foundation colleague Donna Martinez. I also should have my regular gig on WPTF Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. with Scott Briggaman. 

We’ll have fun. You can listen live or stream here.

Fun fact

The Braves game with the Washington Nationals, scheduled for this afternoon, was postponed due to a COVID outbreak among the Nationals, who haven’t played this season. It’s the first COVID-related postponement for the Atlanta team.

Daggum, Roy

I’ll have thoughts about Roy Williams’ retirement soon. Perhaps when Carolina names a successor. For now, here was the man in his element.