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Paul Kengor: My year without baseball
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Paul Kengor: My year without baseball

I sat in the lobby of a hotel in Washington and had drinks with friends, glanced at the TV and was drawn in by photos of October baseball – the playoff season. It was the San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Classical.

“It’s hard not to see this,” I told my friends. “I love baseball, but I boycotted baseball this year because of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s politicization of the sport.”

Like me wrote about here Back in April, Manfred’s decision to tear the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of his disapproval of the state’s new electoral integrity laws was a terrible, unacceptable and unique politicization of the United States’ national pastime. It was a party-political-ideological decision without a place in professional sports.

In response, I decided not to watch a single game this season, on TV or on the ballpark. It hurt me, because I love baseball, but Manfred left no other choice to countless fans. We can not afford to be patsies and peasants for those who poison everything with politics and interrupt what they disagree with. In this case, the cancellation of an entire city and state.

Enough is enough. This must stop.

I was prepared to do that to my friends in the hotel lobby. Although they are politically like-minded, and I also assumed outraged at what Manfred did, I expected an argument or resistance. I got the exact opposite reaction.

“I’m done with baseball,” replied my friend Robert, a lifelong baseball fanatic, bitterly. “I have not seen a single game all season. I can not. No more. It is a matter of principle. “

The last time Robert and I talked about baseball, we discussed whether his guy, Tom Seaver, or my guy, John Candelaria, was more deserving of the Cy Young Award in 1977 (which went to Steve Carlton). We can both rattle off the starting line-ups for the great 70’s teams: Big Red Machine, Pirates’ “Lumber Company” team, Dodgers, Yankees and fantastic A’s.

But Robert, like me, is bored. The other three people at our table held the same position. No one has seen a single game this season. Manfred had boycotted an entire city and state over politics, and we all responded by boycotting Manfred and baseball. While discussing our individual thinking, we admitted how it hurt the innocent – that is, my team, the Pirates, Robert’s team, the New York Mets; and the team of my friend Steve, Washington Nationals. But we agreed that Manfred gave us no other choice.

And yet, as we discuss the situation further, here’s what really struck me: I told my friends that when I wrote about my decision in my Trib column in April, a reader assured me that I would not regret my decision – I wanted to learn to live without baseball.

Well, the reader was right. I have moved on and with much less pain than I expected.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred taught me two important things: First, I could not support baseball this season because of his fierce political arming of the sport; and secondly, I can live without it. He taught it to my friends too.

Our protest may sound like sour grapes, but it is really a matter of principle. This rubbish must stop. Enough.

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and a senior academic fellow at the Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College.

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