Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

SB 1070 gives Arizona black eye for impending MLB All-Star Game

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When SB1070 was in the headlines, the idea of holding the 2011 MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix could have gone 50-50. While protesters will be out there, the game will be held in the state of Arizona on Tuesday, and you will hear very little coverage of the protesters in Phoenix.

The protesters wanted the game to be moved somewhere else away from Arizona as an economic punishment. True, the federal judicial system has had its way so far in making sure SB 1070 can’t be implemented. But we wanted to see what the impact of Tuesday’s game would be if SB 1070 was indeed law.

Now we know that some of these players may have become American citizens, and they all have proper documentation to play in the United States for the whole season. And this only reflects the original All-Star rosters, some of these names will be changed.

When you crunch the numbers, you are surprised that the rosters are mostly American-born. From a suspicion standpoint, those American-born players with Hispanic surnames would get hassled. And the lone Canadian player on each roster would probably not get a second look.

In the American League, 6 of the 9 starters are American-born. The other 3 are from the Dominican Republic: 2B Robinson Cano (NY Yankees), OF Jose Bautista (Toronto), and DH David Ortiz (Boston). Each league has 13 pitchers: 10 are American-born, the exceptions are Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), NY Yankees’ Mariano Rivera (Panama), and Detroit’s Jose Valverde (Dominican Republic).

Of the 11 AL bench players, 7 are American-born. The other 4 are NY Yankees catcher Russell Martin (Canada), infielders Texas’ Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic), Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela), and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela).

For the hometown NL squad,  7 of the 9 starters are American-born, with these two exceptions: Philadelphia 3B Placido Polanco Phillies (Dominican Republic), NY Mets SS Jose Reyes Mets (Dominican Republic). On the pitching staff, 12 of the 13 are American-born; Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens (Curacao) is the exception.

On the NL bench, 10 of the 12 are American-born, though 2 of them are from Puerto Rico: St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and NY Mets OF Carlos Beltran. Arizona officials may not be aware that Puerto Ricans are American citizens. The exceptions are Chicago Cubs SS Starlin Castro (Dominican Republic) and Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto (Canada).

The NL might have a slight advantage if non-American born players weren’t allowed in Arizona, especially if someone convinced Arizona officials that Puerto Ricans don’t need papers.

Baseball fans don’t take country of origin into account when rooting for their team to win. And the All-Star Game is unusual in that you root for your team’s rival players because you support your league of choice. Votto was the NL’s Most Valuable Player last year.

SB 1070 was never about immigration enforcement; the law was about intimidation and racial profiling. You have the senior senator from Arizona, a presidential candidate in 2008, telling us that illegal immigrants started recent wildfires in the state. Since SB1070 was passed in Arizona, you had the horrific assassination attempt of Congressman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was a target of literature from Sarah Palin, a vice-presidential candidate in 2008.

One prominent AL starter who had talked about boycotting the All-Star Game was Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is of Mexican descent, U.S. born, but spent a lot of his youth in Tijuana. Until this year, Gonzalez played his entire major league career on teams in states that border Mexico: Texas for 2 years and the next 5 years for the San Diego Padres, mere miles from the U.S.-Mexican border.

Gonzalez will play in the game. You couldn’t have drawn up a better spokesperson for a possible boycott, but popular players have that much more pressure (including the players’ union) on them not to rock the boat.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has traditionally been a little squeamish on dealing with anything politically. Concessions could have been made even if the game wasn’t pulled. But Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, a staunch supporter of SB 1070, never felt an ounce of pressure from MLB.

Courtesy of a June interview with The Associated Press sports columnist Jim Litke, MLB spokesman Greg Bouris said: “Our position on the (Arizona) law hasn’t changed. We oppose it as written and that won’t change until the courts decide what the law is. But we think the All-Star game is a chance to celebrate the contribution of all baseball players — including our international players.”

MLB acknowledges its international players, but does Arizona? We won’t bore you with an analysis of the Diamondbacks team or any of the other MLB teams, but games in Arizona would be a lot less fun if it reflected SB 1070. And Arizona’s favorite professional athlete is Canadian via South Africa (and is white).

At lunchtime, a bunch of us were watching a protest for immigration raids. A middle-aged woman was rather loud about how we should send them all back. Not to pigeonhole her, but she sounded like someone familiar with the Rush Limbaugh show. These are usually the same people who think Obama is turning us into a socialist country, whatever that means.

But the reason why even those ardent anti-immigration people shouldn’t support SB 1070 is that it turns us into a fascist country. U.S. citizens presenting their papers to local authorities sounds like fascism to us. Even as an American citizen, how do you prove you’re legit? Driver’s license doesn’t work. Being white doesn’t work.

The federal system has a way to deal with immigration that follows the law and respects those who are legal and those who aren’t. Because even the illegals are still human beings. If it isn’t working too fast for some, SB 1070 doesn’t address legitimate issues and is designed to intimidate American citizens on the basis of color. That isn’t American or even patriotic.


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