The Commissioner of Major League Baseball has been a controversial figure, to say the least.
From referring to the World Series trophy as a “piece of metal,” to the perceived light punishment towards the Houston Astros for their infamous cheating scandal during the 2017 season, to efforts to speed up pace of play that have angered baseball purists, Manfred has been a lightning rod since taking over the role in 2015.
But for the most part during his tenure, Manfred has mostly avoided the same level of political involvement that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has engaged in.
That changed in summer 2021 when Manfred inserted himself into a fabricated crisis around Georgia’s election integrity bill, which was passed into law by the Georgia legislature.
With the All Star Game set to take place in Atlanta, the political left spread misinformation through the media in an attempt to exert their political influence.
As a result, President Joe Biden, who inaccurately described the bill as “Jim Crow on steroids,” advocated for MLB to move the game.
An opinion piece from the Washington Post at the time covered Biden’s hyperbolic, inaccurate ravings:
Republicans were engaged in an effort “to suppress your vote, to subvert our elections,” Biden thundered. “That’s the kind of power you see in totalitarian states, not in democracies.” He compared Republicans to racists and traitors, accusing them of standing with George Wallace, Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis. He called them “enemies” of America, saying, “I will defend the right to vote, our democracy against all enemies — foreign and, yes, domestic.” The question before the American people was whether we “choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice,” Biden declared, saying this was “not hyperbole; this is a fact.”
Naturally, Manfred moved the game to Colorado, caving to the pressure from Biden, political activist and election denier Stacey Abrams, and an organized “voting rights” group with ties to LeBron James and Al Sharpton.
In a completely unsurprising turn of events, the “Jim Crow on steroids” bill resulted in primary voting in Georgia’s recent election nearly doubling from a comparable primary in 2018.
Far from limiting turnout of black voters, according to National Review, “at least 102,056 more Black voters cast early ballots this year than in 2018 — a more than threefold increase.”
It’s hard to be more wrong than that.
Even so, in a lengthy interview with ESPN, Manfred defended his nonsensical process and said he would make the “same decision:”
“With the facts that existed at that point in time, I think I would make the same decision,” he says. “I have to say, we’ve now been through an election cycle in Georgia. I’m glad there was a big voter turnout. I know that some people will say that proves that you were worried about nothing. I think the other way you look at it is, maybe we brought attention to an issue that people turned out in bigger numbers because of that attention. I don’t know what the answer is. I do think that in the same context, I’d make the same decision.”
While he’s careful to specify that the decision was based on the “facts that existed at that point in time,” it’s a ridiculous, inaccurate deflection.
The actual facts at the time overwhelmingly suggested that Biden, Abrams and other activists were misrepresenting the contents of the bill and exaggerating the potential impacts in order to score political points.
Ignoring that now is as bad as his laughable implication that MLB could be responsible for an increase in turnout by taking an estimated $100 million in income away from a majority black city and bowing to inaccurate activism.
Manfred is either unwilling to admit his mistake, or unwilling to acknowledge that he cares more about appeasing pressure from the political left than he does about the integrity of the game and MLB’s reputation.
Moving the All Star Game was inarguably a disgrace to the league and an embarrassing moment in sports history.
It was inevitable that turnout would not be affected, because those putting pressure on Manfred were lying to him. Not to mention the absurdity of moving the game to Colorado, whose voting laws were extremely similar to Georgia’s.
Refusing to accept that it was a mistake might also lead to further poor decision making at the behest of progressives and a President with severely limited mental faculties.
And of course, no one will ask him if any laws opposed by conservatives will receive the same treatment. For example, if California or New York pass a bill that is opposed by a future Republican president or prominent activists on the right, will Manfred strip the game from those states? Or does his political standard only apply to the left?
Beyond the absurd quotes, as recompense, Manfred should be publicly expressing his support for taking the next available open All Star Game and giving it to the Braves.
But instead of trying to heal some of the wounds he caused to the city of Atlanta, the Braves franchise and local businesses, especially minority owned businesses, Manfred is doubling down on his misinformation.