How The Backlash Against Major League Baseball Could Help Save America

How The Backlash Against Major League Baseball Could Help Save America

It seems to have taken the politicization of the National Pastime to make Americans fully aware of the politicization of the country—and to be moved to take a firm stand against it.
Jeffrey H. Anderson
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In 1920, Babe Ruth saved Major League Baseball. Just more than 100 years later, the backlash against Major League Baseball may help save America.

In Ruth’s day, underpaid ballplayers made a mockery of the World Series and showed no regard for the sanctity of the game. In our day, overpaid “elites” have made a mockery of the country’s norms and traditions and shown no regard for the views of everyday Americans.

‎In 1920, things changed when Ruth stepped to the plate and clobbered 54 home runs, more than 14 of the other 15 Major League teams hit that season. In 2021, things may have changed when Major League Baseball stepped into a hornets’ nest under the blind leadership of its woke commissioner, Robert Manfred, and awakened a sleeping giant: the American citizenry.

Many members of the Chicago “Black Sox” responded to gamblers’ overtures by throwing the 1919 World Series. Manfred and MLB brass responded to leftists’ lobbying by pulling the 2021 Major League All-Star Game out of Atlanta, because the people’s duly elected representatives in centrist Georgia had passed moderate election legislation aimed both at expanding early voting and curbing cheating.

Baseball’s actions didn’t happen in a vacuum. It has been clear since 2016 that the American people’s decision to elect Donald Trump has given the left a self-perceived license to go nuts. Such insanity, previously mostly contained within academia’s ivy-covered walls, proceeded to infect most of the Democratic Party, almost all of the press corps, and, eventually, many if not most leaders of the military and corporate America.

Americans have tolerated this to an extraordinary decree. They largely stayed silent when repeatedly told America is “systemically racist” and that the remedy is to abandon the color-blind ideal in favor of color obsession.

They didn’t revolt when corporations took senselessly destructive actions, like when Disney cancelled the beloved Splash Mountain ride on the specious grounds that those routinely willing to wait well more than an hour to ride it were inadvertently engaging in racist pursuits by enjoying the exploits of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox, whose charming adventures were (gasp!) rooted in slave folktales.

But baseball is different. It seems to have taken the politicization of the National Pastime to make Americans fully aware of the politicization of the country—and to be moved to take a firm stand against it. Baseball’s actions seem to have angered people more than any other woke corporate gesture to date. When the likes of Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial pages, calls for boycotting Major League Baseball, the response is clearly not limited to the extreme fringe.

Moving the All-Star Game is hardly the first of Manfred’s heresies. He has a long track record of progressive leanings and disregard for tradition in his management of the game.

Before objecting to legislative outcomes supported by most Georgians and probably most Americans, he oversaw the implementation of the softball-style intentional walk (declaring four balls, rather than pitching them), the seven-inning doubleheader game, the runner on second base at the start of extra innings, and the plans to scrap the Cleveland Indians’ century-old name.

At the same time, he has done nothing meaningful to empower and incentivize umpires to speed up the increasingly laborious pace at which pitches are thrown, or to limit relievers’ warm-up pitches to the bullpen. Partly as a result, the average baseball game now takes more than three hours, versus less than two hours when Ruth played, while fewer batted balls are put into play than ever before.

The slow and declining quality of the game appears to be having an effect on homegrown Americans’ willingness to play it. Someone might want to ask the woke Manfred why only 8 percent of Major League ballplayers are black, versus 19 percent 40 years ago.

Perhaps a boycott of Major League Baseball will have the secondary effect of causing Manfred to start listening to fans who respect the tradition of the game. But the actual purpose of the boycott, of course, is to get “elite” America to back off and to realize this is a nation governed of, by, and for the people—not of, by, and for “elites.”

The fact that baseball could be the catalyst of this backlash is quite appropriate. If baseball isn’t right, America isn’t right. As Walt Whitman put it back in 1888, “I believe in all that—in baseball, in picnics, in freedom.”

Jeffrey H. Anderson served as the director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2017 to 2021, and is co-creator of the Anderson & Hester Rankings, part of college football’s Bowl Championship Series from 1998 to 2014.

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