Look at the rosters for Major League Baseball's 2010 All-Star Game and you'll see a pretty glaring trend.
When all the shuffling due to player unavailability was done, the National League had 38 members and the American League had 39 for a grand total of 77 honorees.
Of those athletes, 26 came to the diamond from outside the United States of America:
Canada (2)—Justin Morneau, Joey Votto
Dominican Republic (13)—Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Fausto Carmona, Neftali Feliz, Rafael Furcal, Vladimir Guerrero, Ubaldo Jimenez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Jose Valverde
Japan (1)—Ichiro Suzuki
Mexico (2)—Yovani Gallardo, Joakim Soria
Panama (1)—Mariano Rivera
Puerto Rico (1)—Yadier Molina
Taiwan (1)—Hong-Chih Kuo
Venezuela (5)—Elvis Andrus, Miguel Cabrera, Omar Infante, Victor Martinez, Martin Prado
That's over a third of the combined roster devoted to those with intimate ties to foreign lands and it doesn't include either Adrian Gonzalez or Alex Rodriguez. Both men were born in the States, but have obvious and public connections to the Latin-American community.
Considering these are the best the Show has to offer, it's undeniable that America's Pastime has become an immigrant affair.
Granted, it's always been such by the very nature of it being America's game, but that's a discussion for another place and time. The point is that the Bigs have an international flavor and it's only getting stronger.
Many of those names will be back in the Midsummer Classic next year and much of MLB's young talent hails from outside the Red, White, and Blue borders.
These bullet points on my Captain Obvious resume bear emphasizing because of the well-publicized debate surrounding the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, set to take place in Arizona.
The story is familiar by now—Arizona Senate Bill 1070 makes it clear that the State's police have the authority to stop anyone on reasonable suspicion of being an illegal immigrant and insisting on proof of legal residency. Right or wrong, this has ignited fears, particularly in the Latin-American community, of the potential for profiling in breach of long-recognized civil rights. The fear has touched off protests as well as public discussion at elevated volumes.
Consequently, all high-profile happenings in the Grand Canyon State have been swept up into the maelstrom.
This includes baseball's foremost exhibition of its glitterati, which means yet another hot potato has been lobbed onto the desk of commissioner Bud Selig.
That's never good.
True to form, Bud Lite has already begun to ham-hand the conundrum. The guy is such a dolt and he's apparently getting more arrogant!
Before anyone gets too worked up, let me say this isn't about the actual implications of SB 1070—though I think it's a terrible piece of legislation, I'm extremely sympathetic to the plight faced by Arizona and other border States.
As a resident of San Francisco and California, I'm well-aware of the tragic and wasteful ramifications of illegal immigration.
A couple years ago, an illegal immigrant/member of MS 13 killed a father and his two sons with an assault rifle after a minor traffic confrontation in the City. Not only that, this should-be-human-surge-protector had previous brushes with the law as an illegal and still slipped through the system.
Meanwhile, the overall impact has a debilitating effect on our State's coffers. That's no small concern since Cali was already so broke last year that it's literally paying some of its obligations in IOUs.
It's high time the federal government got off its marble and mahogany duff to do something about the problem. Yet all we get is empty chatter that will only get emptier and louder as the next election cycle looms.
So I get the frustration, but the bill is bad if only because it creates an avenue of no-cost public suit against authorities as a means of encouraging enforcement. That's a cataclysmically bad idea for a country as litigious as ours.
Nevertheless, this really isn't about the politics of the situation—it's about staring at the oncoming iceberg and throwing more fuel into the boiler rather than changing course.
Again and again and again.
Return to the '10 rosters—26 are immigrants.
Gallardo, a native of Mexico, has already publicly stated he'd boycott the game if he were an All Star in '11.
In Amy Nelson's linked piece, you can see that the San Diego Padres' Gonzalez, who is a pillar of the Latino community in Saint Diego, has also done so. What's more, Adrian's Friar teammate, closer Heath Bell, had this to say:
"I wouldn't be surprised if I wouldn't go to stick up for my teammate...Sometimes you need to stick up for your friends and family."
Both Gonzo and Bell are U.S. citizens; along with el Chupacabra, all three are pretty safe bets to get the '11 All-Star call.
And what happens when the attitude spreads as it's bound to do inside a Major League clubhouse with its bunker mentality?
What is the notoriously backboned Selig going to do if a third of the ASG roster won't show for the game?
Select 20 or so replacements and then sell it as legitimate display of the game's best with the contest's popularity already wavering?
Try to force these men into service, which isn't something contract or constitutional law often condones?
Surely there will be those who are in total agreement with the spirit of the bill. Others will back away from the issue and take shelter behind the "this is baseball, not politics" barrier.
Both stances are perfectly fine for players. They are, after all, athletes and not elected officials—they're free their opinions or none at all.
However, the same cannot be said of Stinky and Major League Baseball as an institution. Not with this specific issue.
Slippery Selig is already trying to do the political backpedal, but he's gonna hit a wall.
Namely, the legacy of Jackie Robinson and the annual Civil Rights game.
This is most assuredly a civil rights issue—it's about whether a certain subsection of the population should be singled out for disparate treatment based on how they look, speak, or act. Furthermore, it directly influences the rights of many Major Leaguers and fans of the sport.
So it falls snugly into the one, small political sphere in which baseball has long-been a pioneer.
Nope, Buddy boy, there's no side-stepping this one.
Of course, there's no need because the solution is simple—move the game, tell everyone that is the neutral stance because it removes MLB from the issue, and announce the game will return to Arizona once the appropriate machinery has resolved the firestorm.
It's politically savvy, makes common sense, and avoids the inevitable collision of an unstoppable force with an immovable object.
Which means it's probably not gonna be the course of action taken by Bud Selig.
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