The Rundown: MLB Dropped Ball in Atlanta, AL Wins Eighth Straight ASG, Bryant Shows Loyalty on National Stage, Castellanos Thanks Cubs Fans
“The world is black, the world is white. It turns by day and then by night. A child is Black, a child is white, together they grow to see the light, to see the light.” – Three Dog Night, Black & White
Now that the All-Star Game and all of its festivities have passed, the city of Atlanta has to wonder what might have been. The three-day extravaganza generates $60 million or more in revenues for the host city, provides a couple of thousand jobs — even if only temporary employment — and serves to promote and build local businesses. That is presumably a continuing boon because tourists will often return to vacation in a city if they enjoy themselves.
Rob Manfred and MLB decided to move the game from Atlanta to Denver in protest of Georgia’s new voting law, which many believe suppresses the Black vote and reeks of Jim Crow laws prevalent in southern states during the 1950s and ’60s. The league was mostly applauded for taking a stand, though city and state politicians in Georgia weren’t very pleased. Perhaps better options may have existed.
Atlanta has a predominately Black population and the new law aims to potentially boost the conservative vote in that city, which could mean a state electoral win for a Republican presidential candidate. However, the league’s kneejerk reaction also stripped many lower-income municipalities near Truist Park of the financial windfall that comes with hosting the annual event.
As recently as 2017, only one core metro Atlanta county still had a majority-white population and, per WalletHub, Georgia ranked No. 13 nationwide in its ranking of the most and least diverse states. The ratio of the Black-to-white population in Atlanta is 227,000 to 161,000. The county’s average salary, which includes many financially recessed areas, is about $65,000 per year.
On the other hand, Denver has a population of nearly 417,000 white residents as compared to roughly 61,000 Black citizens. The average salary in its communities is nearly $76,000.
As I watched the Home Run Derby on Monday night, I was dismayed because I realized that baseball seems to be a truly elitist, white sport. It’s bad enough that the percentage of Black players that made Opening Day rosters stood at less than 10%, but as I watched home run after home run exit Coors Field, I saw nothing but a sea of white in the stands.
Baseball made a stand and hurt a Black community in doing so. It blew a chance to promote the game to non-white fans in a city that called Henry Aaron its own for two decades. By moving the game at such a late date, many communities had already spent a great deal of time and money in making preparations, marketing, hospitality and dining options, etc.
I wouldn’t go as far as to claim the league is guilty of virtue signaling, but how is it compensating the community it turned its back on? Who’s covering the lost revenues, and even worse, the lost expenditures? After all, the people who needed that influx of capital were hurt the most.
Cedric Mullins was a bench player in high school. He didn’t start until his senior year. He went to a junior college. He's 5-foot-8.
Tonight, he started in centerfield for the American League in the MLB All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/7PaiHjm7l2
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 14, 2021
Perhaps MLB could have played the game in its intended setting while still protesting the new voter law. They could have adorned Truist Park with pro-Black messaging, offered petitions for change to fans entering the stadium, designated poorer communities for reduced-rate or free tickets, and used Negro League jerseys for the game instead of those godawful accouterments players wore in Denver.
Manfred could have parlayed the entire first half of the season to promote bigger causes rather than taking his shiny white baseballs to one of the whitest cities in America. By doing something MLB thought represented a tough stand against social injustice, they instead hurt the very families they claimed to protect.
Baseball dropped the ball and the league never really fought to promote change. Instead, the commissioner and his cronies made a cowardly move to leave a political hotspot that needs hope and amplified national awareness at a time when the majority of Georgia’s citizens are feeling more oppressed than ever. Rise above, Mr. Manfred. Don’t just walk away.
And yes, MLB made a nice if not
condescending obligatory gesture when they agreed to provide up to $150 million in donations to the Players’ Alliance. That comes to just $5 million per team, though, something that barely dents the pocketbooks of league owners, even those who suffered biblical losses during the pandemic. In the end, baseball did what baseball always seems to do: Increased its white fanbase and suppressed Black awareness while pretending to be socially relevant.
Cubs News & Notes
- For what it’s worth, Kris Bryant has mastered the art of the subtle suggestion and though he understands his near-term future is “up in the air,” it sounds like he’d really prefer to stay in Chicago.
- The “former” third baseman and current Super UT admitted he was proud to represent the Cubs in last night’s game.
- I try not to cite articles from FanSided very often, but I love the message here: Bryant is still loyal to the Cubs organization, even if the feeling isn’t mutual.
- Angels first baseman Jared Walsh, who was playing left field as a late-game substitution, robbed Bryant of a chance to be a hero in the 8th inning.
- The Cubs and their fans changed the perspective on playing the game of baseball for Nick Castellanos, who would be a free agent after this season if he opts out of his contract. Paging Mr. Hoyer.
- Kyle Schwarber weighed in on the anticipated breakup of the Cubs’ core.
- Seven of the 10 players the Cubs drafted on Day 3 were high school prospects: five pitchers, an infielder, and an outfielder.
Odds & Sods
Extend our hero!
Kris Bryant on trade rumors:
"If it does happen, whatever team I do go to is gonna get a guy that'll go out there and give it all he's got" pic.twitter.com/BUzJ4PvsbC
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 12, 2021
How About That!
The American League’s 5-2 win was the eighth straight for the junior circuit.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was named the game’s MVP, and he is the youngest player ever to receive that honor.
The 110.2 mph, 468-foot bomb by Guerrero was the longest (by 58 feet) in an All-Star Game since Statcast began tracking in 2015. Bryant set the previous record of 410 feet in 2016.
The ugly uniforms AL and NL players wore last night ruined the game for many fans. The MLB haberdashery folks who design special event threads have really flubbed the last few seasons.
Who can forget these atrocious 2019 Players’ Weekend getups?
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said Red Sox peer Xander Bogaerts is “so good it’s unbelievable.”
As a reminder, if you say “Ooooh!” I’m going to respond with “You’re unbelievable.”
Returning to Coors Field was an emotional affair for Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arrenado.
Phillies’ catcher J.T. Realmuto snapped a 40-year drought when he homered in last night’s game.
Pete Alonso wore his Home Run Derby champion’s necklace to a bar after his win, which seems perfectly appropriate for the slugging first baseman.
All-Star Week Heroes
- Trey Mancini – A hero for everybody, for any era of the sport, and not just to baseball fans. Read his remarkable story here.
- Kris Bryant – He had to answer a lot of silly questions from Joe Buck and John Smoltz and his eye-roll when he knew the trade speculation question was coming was priceless. Even better, he said he felt like he was 10 years old because he has been asked to play all over the diamond this year. Just extend the guy, please and thank you.
- Liam Hendricks – The White Sox closer was armed with quite the hot mic!
Props to the MVP, who hit the 200th all-time ASG home run.
this little boy grew up to become MVP of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/X9y2ZmKfKw
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 14, 2021
They Said It
- “There hasn’t been a large Black fan base in Major League Baseball for the past 30 years. And if you’re a 13-year-old Black boy in the 7th grade and you’re trying to decide what sport you’re going to play, you have a ton of role models in the NBA and NFL and not so many in Major League Baseball.” – Richard Lapchick, director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, a nonprofit that studies race and gender in sports in relation to overall patterns in society.
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Living for the City by Stevie Wonder. Powerful lyrics that sadly resonate today.