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Protestors to picket the Cubs-Dbacks game. I kinda wish they wouldn't

Apr 29, 2010, 10:47 AM EDT

As you probably know, Arizona passed a law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives
the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the
country illegally. Supporters believe it to be a necessary move to combat illegal immigration to the state. Opponents call it an open invitation for
harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their
citizenship status.  I have my own opinions about it all and I’m sure you do too, but that’s not terribly important in this forum because this forum is about baseball.

But the controversy over Arizona SB 1070 is now hitting baseball, as people are protesting the Arizona Diamondbacks wherever they go:

Today at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and in just about every city the team
visits, there is expected to be a protest outside the stadium against
Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070. One of the people organizing and encouraging such protests is Tony
Herrera, the Arizona representative for a national movement (it has a
Facebook page) called “Boycott Arizona 2010.”

“This team is an ambassador for Arizona,” Herrera told me. “And the
owner, Mr. (Ken) Kendrick, is a big supporter of Republican politics.
This new law was a Republican bill. Until the law is changed, there
should be protests.”

Some people are also suggesting that Major League Baseball take away the 2011 All-Star Game which will take place in Chase Field.  The odds of that happening are somewhere below the odds of Lou Dobbs joining those protests, but people are asking it all the same.

I like to rouse rabble as much as the next guy, but protests based on attenuated links kind of irk me. Yes, the Dbacks are from Arizona and yes the team’s owner — one of several dozen in a large ownership group, by the way — generally supports the party that sponsored the legislation, but the Diamondbacks and any fans heading to Wrigley Field this weekend are innocent bystanders here. I’m guessing they no more appreciate having a ballgame interrupted by immigration politicking any more than Super Bowl viewers were interested in listening to Tim Tebow go on whatever it was he was going on about in that boring little commercial that caused all the hubub.

People can obviously do what they want because the First Amendment is pretty damn awesome, but I can’t help but think these sorts of protests and calls for boycots are at best ineffective in furthering the protesters’ cause and potentially detrimental. If you’re running late to the game and you have to navigate a picket line outside the gate, you’re probably not going to be very sympathetic to the protester’s cause.  And if calls for boycotts are actually heeded they won’t hurt the owners of the Diamondbacks nearly as much as they’ll hurt the concession guys and stadium sweepers who get laid off because business is slow.  These things are great for some short-lived publicity, but short-lived publicity is generally not the best way to affect political change. That takes sustained activism, legal action and other less-sexy things than jumping in front of TV cameras.

But I guess my biggest beef with this sort of thing is that when I go to a baseball game, I’m looking to escape reality for a little while and it angries up my blood if I have to have to think about the real world for those three hours.  Maybe that makes me a bad citizen or something, but it’s how I feel. And I feel that way whether I agree with the protesters or not.

UPDATE: If you’re looking for more on this, BIll at the Daily Something has some.

  1. MU789 - Apr 29, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    Craig, you start out on the wrong foot. It has been federal law for decades that immigrants have to carry their papers on their person at all times.

  2. BC - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Once they get laughed at enough times for looking so ridiculous, this will die down. It’s like any time PETA mouths off, they make themselves look stupid, rather than working for their causes in a constructive way.
    Do these people realize how much tax revenue is generated by a baseball team – tax revenue that pays for services that these people use and rely on?
    Give me a break people. Go protest dead baby seals or something.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    I’m not getting into the debate myself, MU (if you all want to I’m not going to stop you as long as you’re being civil). But it is a fact that the protests are over the state law.

  4. Senor Pot - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Yes, by all means, let’s keep out politics out of our baseball.
    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/04/former-nats-pitcher-mike-bacsik-is-a-racist.html.php
    The Diamondbacks are an Arizona business — and a constituent. Letting them now what side they should take on this nonsense is appropriate.
    Whether or not MLB wants to take action, MLBPA should be thinking about it.

  5. Mason - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Wrong answer; try again.

  6. Tom H. - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    What does making racist comments have to do with politics?

  7. Old Gator - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    For the most part, music is so formulaic and predictable these days that I can’t see the point of protesting anything anymore. Wer used to march on the Pentagon singing “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die” or “Volunteers.” What are we going to sing now – Jennifer Lopez tunes or Kelly Clarkson in translation?
    .
    If you want to worry about Arizona, worry about something important – like the disappearance of the horned toads. And by all means don’t walk around down there barefoot.

  8. Tom H. - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    I kind of agree with Senor Pot, especially given the amount of Latino players that are in MLB and MiLB AND given that 50% of Spring Training is held in Arizona. You would think that the execs would be formulating a plan to deal with the first Latino player busted in Arizona for Undocumented Breathing.

  9. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    I strive to keep controversial political issues out of this forum until there’s a baseball connection. I don’t consider a baseball figure calling hundreds of thousands of people “dirty Mexicans” to be a controversial political issue. Indeed, I think most people would agree that’s pretty apolitical and pretty crappy.
    That said, I’m not saying I have hard and fast rules about politics here. I just try to keep it to a minimum.

  10. enough already - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    There has also been discussion about boycotting Arizona ice tea, which is made in New York. Go figure.

  11. Simon DelMonte - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Regarding the All-Star Game, in the interests of noting past precedent, I turn the clock back to the 1980s, when the same state was involved in another controversy, regarding Martin Luther King’s Birthday. Governor Evan Meachem decided to revoke MLK Day as a state holiday, leading to a wide variety of protests and boycotts. One such protest led to the NFL deciding to not cancel plans to play the 1993 Super Bowl in Tempe two years before the game.
    It is thus possible that the All-Star Game could also be moved. The NLFPA played a big role in the prior protests, so perhaps the MLBPA will get involved.
    Certainly, if there is a large anti-immigration law movement, there will be pressure on MLB to make its voice heard since the Cactus League drives more tourism money to Arizona now than ever before, and perhaps since many Latin American players could oppose the law. That said, I agree that moving the All-Star Game with 14 months to go seems unlikely. But far from impossible.

  12. Ryan - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Dey terk er jerbs!

  13. Dan Whitney - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    That Arizona Iced Tea is delicious. Give me 99c watermelon sweat tea or give me death.

  14. Dan Whitney - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Sweet tea, even. Sweat tea would be pretty awful (though fitting for Arizona. “It’s a dry heat!”)

  15. MU789 - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Craig, my point was that it was already a crime to not have your immigration papers on you if you are a legal immigrant. The new law in AZ did not change that but just followed federal law.
    The problem with the law is not immigration papers but proof for native born citizens that do not carry such proof with them. I do not carry anything but my driver’s license with me so I would have no way to prove I am not an illegal immigrant.

  16. Jonny5 - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Well once again we have people here more interested in the rights of non-citizens than they are in actual citizens. It’s crippling to the economy to support social structures that in turn support non-tax paying non-citizens. Ask yourself why 70% of the citizens of Arizona support the bill. If you don’t agree you don’t understand the tax burdens they incur as citizens while supporting social programs that non-citizens take advantage of.

  17. Ryan - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Chalk me up as another vote for taking away the ASG from Arizona next year.

  18. Judi - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    MLB players are here legally under work visas, so they have nothing to worry about. You do realize that if someone from another country is here legally they have nothing to worry about, right?

  19. BC - Apr 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Linkin Park?

  20. Jason W. - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Actually, a driver’s license (at least an Arizona driver’s license) creates a presumption that the person under suspicion is a citizen under the Arizona law.
    (Hilariously, the captcha for this comment is “political squadron”.)

  21. CG Hudson - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    And you do realize that if a state legislature decided to pass a law to compel all of its police officers to, let’s say, stop and detain anyone who looked like a potential member of Timothy McVeigh’s militia movement until they could prove otherwise that all of those crew-cut white guys in combat fatigues would have nothing to worry about either?

  22. Steve B - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    I would strongly consider boycotting the All-Star Game if I were a player elected to or chosen for the Game if it appeared in Arizona.
    Captcha of inappropriate intersections, validating Craig’s statement:
    pastime military

  23. Jason W. - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    “But I guess my biggest beef with this sort of thing is that when I go to a baseball game, I’m looking to escape reality for a little while and it angries up my blood if I have to have to think about the real world for those three hours.”
    Aw, poor baby Craigy can’t handle people intruding on his sheltered little reality? Awwwwww.
    That’s idiotic. The entire point of a protest like this is to raise awareness and/or educate by taking people out of their comfort zone. These whines about “they shouldn’t protest in X or Y” and “they should use sustained activism and legal action” are just that: whines. All n million people who are angry about this law can’t bring an action. Just giving money to the ACLU and whoever else brings the legal challenges isn’t enough for most people. Economic action and awareness-raising are completely valid ways to help push along political change.
    And what is “sustained activism”, anyway? To take Mumia Abu-Jabal out of context, “They’re just words that have very little relationship to reality.” If you’re going to suggest that people not take certain actions, the actions that you suggest they should take can’t be devoid of meaning, weasel words that make it sound like you’re making a concrete suggestion when you’re really waving your hands. I’ll give you some credit, though: they don’t teach that kind of empty rhetoric in 1L legal writing — that takes long experience and careful study to master.

  24. The Common Man - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    As Bill lays out in his post on The Daily Something (I suggest clicking over for an excellent analysis, and not just because Bill is my friend), in actuality we need to care about this ridiculous unfunded mandate because of how it will affect actual citizens of this country. Indeed, American citizens in Arizona should not be subject to being pulled over simply because they are brown. That’s the issue here, Jonny.

  25. Jon - Apr 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    But they have to have their papers on them at all times, right? I’d love to see a cop ask Pujols for his papers during a Diamondbacks’ game, and then haul him off to jail when he says they’re in his hotel room.

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