Campaigners who have previously targeted the likes of Nike and Coca-Cola have accused baseball bosses of failing the sport and carrying out dubious deals in China, taking aim ahead of a showpiece that was moved over voting rights.
In an advert called ‘Losing Record’, Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred, who moved next week’s All-Star Game to Denver from Atlanta because of concerns over opportunities to vote for people of color, is urged to “serve your customers, not woke politicians.”
The Republican-driven new bill that spurred the switch, which included changes to voting by mail, was backed by player groups consulted by the MLB, as well as the likes of former US president Barack Obama and his newest successor, Joe Biden.
The Democrat’s predecessor, Donald Trump, urged his supporters to boycott baseball and the “woke companies” that he believed were “interfering with free and fair elections” – and the influential Consumers’ Research group appears to echo his concerns.
The MLB played partisan politics and cost the city of Atlanta $100 million. Meanwhile, ticket prices are going up and viewership is going down. Tell the MLB: stop playing politics with America’s pastime. pic.twitter.com/iDdV5JAFO9
— Consumers' Research (@ConsumersFirst) July 8, 2021
“Why is he making baseball political, anyway?” the advert asks of Manfred, citing figures that appear to show audiences for the sport plummeting as ticket prices soar.
“Because of his terrible record. Sketchy deals in China. Manfred has been so bad that [contrasting senators] Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders agree that maybe the league should [now have to] pay taxes like everyone else.”
NEW: Joe Biden tells ESPN he would "strongly support" Major League Baseball moving the All Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the new voter suppression law enacted by Georgia lawmakers.
Biden called the law: "Jim Crow on steroids." pic.twitter.com/m55l2AdN7Y
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) April 1, 2021
“MLB decided to play politics instead of ball, moving the All-Star game from Atlanta and parroting dishonest and partisan talking points,” added Will Hild, the group’s Executive Director.
“[That resulted] in millions of dollars lost for many hard-working Americans.”
Congratulations to @MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens. There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 3, 2021
The MLB declined to comment on an advert that has cost seven figures to run before and during the game, according to Axios.
Some Republicans have heavily criticized the decision to shift the game from Georgia, while critics of the law claim it was intended to disadvantage black and Latino votes in heavily Democratic areas.
Former President Donald Trump’s statement on Atlanta losing the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, along with comments on Coca-Cola and Delta’s response to the recently passed elections and voting law in Georgia. #gapol pic.twitter.com/wcuuuWoM6p
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) April 3, 2021
“Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats who do not want voter ID, which is desperately needed, to have anything to do with our elections,” Trump responded at the time of the announcement.
Manfred said the league had “engaged in thoughtful conversations” with a wide range of parties before reaching their dramatic conclusion, adding that the MLB supported voting rights for all while opposing “restrictions to the ballot box”.
Consumers’ Research has employed a similar approach against huge corporations in the past, aiming to highlight what it sees as woke politics being prioritized to the detriment of the public.
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