Friday, July 16, 2010

Say It Ain't So, Gallardo (or No Way, Jose)

I watched the MLB All Star Game earlier this week, and it was gorgeous on TV, bathed in the deep blue skies and warm sunlight of southern California. But dark clouds were forming on the horizon, for a storm scheduled to hit next year. Headlines, from the Associated Press.
Latin players talk about boycotting 2011 All-Stars in Arizona

When I see the term "Latin players" I expect something like quotes from an first baseman named Justinian Maximus: "Vini, Vidi, Viboycottium!"

Alas, it's not that hot blooded crew from old Rome gettin' restless. It's the Major League "Latins" from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and other parts south of the border. The seed of their discontent is as follows:

A year before Phoenix is set to host baseball's big event, the state's new immigration law kept drawing the attention of major leaguers.

Yovani Gallardo is firm. Even if he's fortunate enough to make the All-Star team again next summer, he'll skip it. "If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott," the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher said Monday.

No, not that! Anything but that! An MLB All Star Game without Yovani Gallardo is like Mount Rushmore without Millard Fillmore.

But it gets worse:

Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria, who leads the majors with 25 saves, said he would support a Latino protest and stay away. Detroit closer Jose Valverde can see himself steering clear, too.

"It's a really delicate issue," said Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 24 home runs. "Hopefully, there are some changes in the law before then. We have to back up our Latin communities."

Now we're talking about some legitimate major league stars. And these threats are troubling, on multiple levels.

First, it is an attempt to reverse the legitimate political decisions of a democratic body via the economic blackmail of its citizens. Or, in other words, using thug tactics to enforce your will when persuasion doesn’t work. It is estimated that this year's All-Star game will have an $85 million impact on its host city. A boycott threat for next year is a threat to ruin the game and the windfall Arizonans can expect, if they insist on holding onto their their beliefs.

It is true, economic boycotts may have been successful in the past for such worthwhile endeavors as fighting apartheid policies in South Africa. But state sponsored racial segregation is in no way analogous to what is happening in Arizona. This is a sovereign US state attempting to control an outbreak of violence and out of control, illegitimate spending on public services by enforcing existing immigration law. Laws no more oppressive than what any country with an international border institutes.

Second, using a crown jewel of America's Past Time as a vehicle for partisan political expression. Threatening to foul-up a beloved American tradition, an apolitical event put on by people who had nothing to do with the Arizona immigration law, in order to make a point about a highly contentious issue. It is despicable. It is an outrage. I'd even go as far as questioning the patriotism of Gallardo, Soria, Bautista, et al. But I'm not sure if that's appropriate for a bunch of guys who may or may not even be citizens.

Third, the nature of these players' very comfortable livelihoods is based on the largesse of the American public. Not only the ticket and merchandise buying whims of the general public, but also the foundation of tax subsidies major league sports depend upon. For example, that $350 million Hennepin County tax payers were forced to kick in for the Twins, lest they leave town or shut down due to economic distress. To take that money, then threaten those who provide it if they don't meet your political whims, is the height of arrogance and/or ignorance.

The movement to boycott Arizona started almost immediately in various precincts of the Left. From the Hollywood crowd, to special interest grievance groups, all the way to local flakes like Mayors RT Rybak and Chris Coleman. They do this, in part, because they believe there are no consequences for their actions. And they may be right, given the typical docility of the silent majority of middle class America. But this is a sensitive issue, high on the priority list of many Americans. And whether Gallardo, Soria, Rybak, and Coleman realize it or not, their teams and cities are just as vulnerable to boycott as the targets they have chosen.

Economic warfare between American cities and citizens. Not exactly the unity we were told to expect with the new Presidential administration in January of 2009. And Obama had the chance to nip this BS in the bud back in May when asked at a press conference about the propriety of these boycotts, he cleared his throat and voted "present":

I'm the president of the United States, I don't endorse boycotts or not endorse boycotts," he replied. "That's something that private citizens can make a decision about."

In other words, from the Community Organizer-in-Chief, let the boycotts begin!

Charles Krauthammer had a much more reasonable proposed response, something you wish your national leader could come up with on his own:

When I heard him say: "I'm the president of the United States, I don't endorse boycotts," I thought he'd stop there. And if he had I would have said, why did he say "I'm the president"? He would have said 'I'm the president of all the United States and I don't want to see one state, pitted against another, one community boycotting another and conducting economic war on another.'

And Obama then added 'I also don't endorse [not boycotting].' So he said if you want to [boycott], that's okay.

As president he could honestly have said: I'm against the law, I'll challenge it in court. The court is where we decide disputes among our communities, not in attacks on each other.

Amen brother. But that's not the reality of the country we live in today. From the White House to ballyard, it's open season for attacks on each other.

On the bright side, at least it gives me a legitimate reason to lustily "boo" when the moribund Brewers, Royals, or Blue Jays roll into Target Field. Boycott this!