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Odds & Ends-Volume 240

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TruistParkWe begin Odds & Ends this week with a follow-up on something we touched upon last week. The 2021 MLB All-Star Game has indeed been pulled out of Atlanta’s Truist Park by commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday following Georgia passing a wave of controversial voting laws that are viewed as suppressive towards minorities.

The MLB Draft, also slated to be held in Atlanta, will also be moved.

In a statement, Manfred said that the league is “finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly”.

“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” Manfred said in his statement. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Dodger Stadium, which is slated to hold the 2022 All-Star Game will continue to do so and will not be moved up to this year.

Many have applauded the move, but there are many who are disappointed with the decision,including the Atlanta Braves,more on that in a moment.

Augusta National Women Golf

Should the 2022 Masters leave Augusta if this law isn’t stricken down? 

I personally think this was needed and I think there’s more coming. I think if sports want to make a statement with not hosting their prime events in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia,this is quite the start. I think college conferences like the SEC and ACC and others who have teams in Georgia should consider moving championship games out of Georgia and host them elsewhere. However, I think the event that could get the state to drop these voter suppression laws for good is The Masters. While it’s late in the game to get next week’s tournament moved out of Augusta, it would certainly make waves if they announced in the near future that the 2022 event could be moved from the site it has called home since 1934. If that event was to even threaten to move, I think this law could be struck down faster than you can say Amen Corner. Until then, we will be seeing baseball’s best playing their midsummer classic away from Atlanta.

BravesSpeaking of the Braves’ reaction to the festivities being moved, it was no doubt a poor one.

The “deeply disappointed” Braves said in a statement that “This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city”, adding  “The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion. Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.

“Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”

I think the Braves missed the mark here. Sure, they’re entitled to their opinion, but they should really be feeling like voting rights of their fans should be a high priority rather than the financial loss for them. This is the same team who left a predominantly black neighborhood in Atlanta in a stadium that was 20 year old when they left Turner Field over to the suburbs of Cobb County to play in a stadium near a shopping mall,which by the way wasn’t an idea that county residents were crazy about at the time. They can say they care about voting rights all they want, but when it came to those voters they’re talking about, they moved away from them five years ago. BlakeGriffin

Having said that, I do hope the city gets a chance to host it in the future should this law ever get repealed or stricken down as unconstitutional (which it is). As we’ve seen in the past when events like the Super Bowl or all-star games in other leagues have moved away, they always come back when the right thing is being done to repeal terrible laws. If and when Georgia’s new Jim Crow voting laws get repealed, the Braves should get a mulligan regarding being a host to the All-Star Game.

Finally this week, we’re moving on to basketball and the renewed call from fans, players,and even small market NBA executives to reform the buyout free agency system that has seen recent past their prime stars such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Andre Drummond being let out of losing situations via buyouts and going to teams like the Nets and the Lakers, the two teams likely to be in the NBA Finals this season.

While there is a discussion to be had on what can be done to make it better and even easier for teams who maybe need a piece or two to get into the playoffs or even deeper into the postseason, it can also be argued that the system works in letting those players choose where they want to go in order to win. Yes,I am against the superteam model the NBA has adopted because it prevents small market teams from ever having a chance to contend or even sniff the postseason. Yes, there needs to be something in the way of a franchise tag like the NFL has to keep top players playing in small markets to try and build them up. Besides that, getting a player who is past his prime to come to a small market team for the rest of the season is counterproductive. If the Minnesota Timberwolves were to somehow land someone like Griffin,Drummond,or Aldridge, what would that do for them going forward? Probably next to nothing. 

Small market teams who haven’t made the playoffs in a while should be building their teams through the draft, not the buyout market.

That’s about all I’ve got this week, have a great Easter weekend and we’ll catch you next time!

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