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Can We Boycott The Diamondbacks Bullpen Instead?

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I couldn't help but be instilled with a reaction to author Dave Zirin boycotting all references to the Diamondbacks as a result of the new disturbing immigration law in Arizona. On the surface it seems like an odd reaction to avert one's attention to anything Diamondback-related, until you hear about the owners being large contributors to the very party which funded and supported this law.

Obviously we won't be dissecting the intestines of this new law — you'll want to do that in the proper channels — but it does elicit the obvious question: what's the big deal with spilling politics into our sports?

It's amazing how much artificial sanctity has permeated baseball. The umpire's strike zone. Standing up during the seventh-inning stretch. The vow of silence during a no-hitter. And in the greater scheme of sports: not talking about crucial subjects other than the vital importance of not walking the leadoff runner in an inning. It's a sanctuary for serenity. This is how it's always been, and it's one of sports' amazing selling points. We don't have to think about actual problems unless one of the athletes dies, becomes sick, or one of their loved ones dies or becomes sick. (And perhaps steroids.) I suppose in this light, we're spoiled. Maybe even fastidious.

Immigration especially hits home, as Zirin both noted, in baseball because of it's disproportionate Latino population. Even on the Diamondbacks team, Rodrigo Lopez was born in Mexico, not to mention several other Latino players on all levels of their farm system. So it's a very organic target within the crossfires of outraged citizens. (As opposed to, say, the Phoenix Coyotes, who themselves may be soon deported to Canada.)

Even more interesting is the fact that Chase Field, the Diamondbacks' domed home, is scheduled to host the MLB All-Star Game next year. They're already beginning a Facebook movement to strongly urge baseball to take decisive action to either get the law thrown out or find another venue next summer. Similar outcries want MLB to move Arizona's spring training to a different state as well. The governmental/corporate backscratching will likely not get this to happen ("Hey, how're you enjoying that antitrust treatment?") but it simply plays into the theory of how important issues and trivial sports matters are inextricably seamed together.

Also, if one truly wants to start a financial boycott of the Arizona Diamondbacks, they'd have to boycott Major League Baseball in general, since the league has its franchises participate in revenue sharing. So it seems a little silly to ignore the team altogether while rooting on and backing others.

So it is not that these people hate the Arizona Diamondbacks — or at least I hope they don't, since the team and its members are merely collateral damage — but rather that their ire is aimed at the owners of the team, who are backers of the Republican Party, which are backers of this law. Now, owners are always, ALWAYS hounded for a team's woes. You hear this all the time when a team languishes for several years. "They don't care about winning. They just want to make money." This time the reason is more cerebral. More political. More understandable.

And for the rest of us tethered to the team with our fandom — or our undying need to occasionally write about them — it puts us in a pickle, caught in no-man's land between second and third base. We don't want to look like we don't care. We also don't want to dismiss people's legitimate concerns about Arizona's new law. But in the end … look, we just don't want to have a discussion about the law in this context. And how can we? We're still trying to figure out why the bullpen can't get a damn out.

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  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Matt, it’s interesting that the State of Arizona is reminding people of the Third Reich these days, but they only have themselves to blame. I never liked the D-Backs anyway, being a Mets fan.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Yeah, let’s not bring up 1999. But thanks for taking on Shawn Green’s contract a few years ago.

  • http://www.lynnvoedisch.com Lynn Voedisch

    Well, the bullpen sure annihilated the Cubs yesterday, so they are not exactly on life-support.
    But I agree that sometimes we take politics too far. Arizona is going to live to regret its fascist law, and we can boycott travel there. (And we SURELY can boycott Sen. McPain.)
    But can’t we leave baseball out of it?