The MLB All-Star game is being played in Phoenix tonight and I'm reminded of the controversy brewing last year over this location. In 2010, Arizona shot to number one on the liberal hate list due to passing a law attempting to remedy the ill effects of illegal immigration on the state. And every preening bleeding heart in the country (including RT Rybak and Chris Coleman) lined up for a chance to express their disapproval.
In addition to the usual group of spotlight chasing professional protestors, several major league ballplayers joined the party and claimed they would boycott the All Star game in 2011. How did that pan out for tonight's game? Let's do a roll call, based on players identified in this Fraters post from 2010.
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.
Well, Yovani Gallardo remains firm. Firmly planted in Milwaukee, that is! He didn't get a chance to boycott, because he didn't make the All Star team. Gallardo, last seen in Minnesota getting lit up on July 1 in a loss to the Twins, is having a decent season I suppose. Yovani your 3.76 era, 1.344 WHIP and 10-5 record is respectable, you've done some solid work, but isn't quite
Ivy League All Star, is it?
Back to 2010:
Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria, who leads the majors with 25 saves, said he would support a Latino protest and stay away.
He's definitely staying away this year. Though his support for the Latino protest can be best described as leading from behind. After blowing 5 of his first 12 save opportunities in Kansas City, with an ERA over 6.00 , he lost his job as closer and the All Star game had no choice but to boycott him instead. Adding insult to boycott injury, his replacement as the KC closer, Aaron Crowe, is the Royal's lone All Star representative this year.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde can see himself steering clear, too.
The only thing Jose Valverde steered clear of was his principles. He's in Phoenix tonight as an All Star and AL Manager Ron Washington says he's the favorite to close out the game if the AL is in the lead. But perhaps there's still time for a protest? According to inside sources:
Jose Valverde said he has a new celebration he has rehearsed in case he gets save tomorrow night.
I'm expecting a brave statement about intolerance delivered though the medium of interpretational dance by a guy wearing stirrup socks.
Finally, the last member of the future boycotters of America:
"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."
Maybe a little too delicate of an issue for him. Bautista is in Phoenix tonight as well, as the leading vote getter of any All Star. He does foreshadow the reason that many are citing for the boycott fizzling, the fact that the Arizona law was partially blocked by Federal courts. That was apparently enough for many to declare a truce, including the MLB player's union.
When Arizona passed the law in question last year, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner came out against it, saying it could negatively impact hundreds of players. Around 30 percent of professional baseball players are Latino.Weiner issued a statement late last week saying that the MLBPA still opposes the law but will send its players to the All-Star Game since "SB 1070 is not in effect and key portions of the law have been judged unlawful by the federal courts."
After all of the macho talk of last year, this is a little weasely to be sure. But ultimately it's a good thing no organized boycott came to fruition. Holding America's past time hostage in order to blackmail the citizens of Arizona out of their democratically elected preferences is a thug tactic that wouldn't have been good for baseball or America.
Plus now I don't have to organize a revenge boycott against the 2012 All Star Game site of Kansas City for the high crime of being the birthplace of Ed Asner. Play ball!