The MLB Still Hasn’t Learned Its Lesson on Woke Virtue Signaling

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022
by Seamus Brennan
Rob Manfred MLB

AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan

For a moment in time, it appeared as though Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred understood that it was not his role to pontificate on politics and that the days of MLB’s flirtation with wokeism might be coming to an end.

“We have always tried to be apolitical,” Manfred said at the 2021 World Series in response to the tidal wave of criticism following his decision to move that year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta on account of Georgia’s election integrity law, which was cynically derided as “Jim Crow 2.0” by Democrats and progressives in the media for much of last year.

“Obviously, there was a notable exception this year,” Manfred continued. “I think our desire is to try to avoid another exception to that general rule. We have a fanbase that’s diverse, has different points of view, and we’d like to keep the focus on the field, on the game.”

Those comments were, of course, entirely appropriate—and they likely reflect the only reasonable attitude for a professional sports league to adopt when it comes to hot-button political matters. After all, baseball has long been hailed as America’s national pastime. For decades, the sport has transcended political, cultural, and social divides and stood as an abiding source of unity and common culture among Americans of all backgrounds, ideas, and political persuasions.

As Manfred acknowledged, the 2021 All-Star Game incident marked a significant aberration from this tradition. But should baseball fans take him at his word when he vows that, going forward, MLB will remain “apolitical” and “keep the focus on the field?”

More than two months into the 2022 baseball season, all signs point to no.

Over the course of the last month alone, nearly every MLB franchise has once again embraced the politics of wokeism, from gun control to gender ideology. With Manfred as commissioner, it seems the league is still fast becoming yet another cultural pulpit for the tenets of left-wing progressivism.

For instance, following the tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, late last month, the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays teamed up to “offer facts” about the “gun problem”—often using nebulous left-wing buzzwords like “assault weapon” while citing openly progressive sources. In one particularly perplexing tweet about racial disparities in gun-related incidents, the Yankees referred to so-called “Latinx people,” a term primarily used by white leftist ideologues and academics but overwhelmingly rejected by the Hispanic and Latino population.

In another astonishingly tone-deaf post, the Yankees tweeted that “4.5 million women in the US today report having been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner”—apparently ignoring the fact that the team’s closer, Aroldis Chapman, allegedly fired a gun “at least eight times” in a 2015 domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Nevertheless, the Yankees signed him to an $86 million five-year contract in 2017, followed by a three-year $48 million extension.

Gabe Kepler, manager of the San Francisco Giants, also weighed in on the matter: “Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place,” he wrote on his blog. During a May 27 gaggle with the press, Kepler promised to remain off the field for the National Anthem “until I feel better about the direction of our country”—a performative pledge he broke just three days later on Memorial Day.

But the MLB’s descent into toxic progressive politics extends far beyond gun control.

After years of incrementally embracing “pride month” events, flaunting rainbow-themed uniforms and social media campaigns, and subtly nodding to the radical ideas embedded in the transgender movement, MLB now appears to be fully immersed in the dogmas of gender ideology. 29 of the 30 teams in the league (the Texas Rangers are the one exception) are now hosting “pride nights” at the ballpark, and more and more teams are wearing rainbow uniforms.

But in what is likely the most shocking display of Major League Baseball’s newfound alliance with gender ideology activists, the Detroit Tigers this year are allowing fans to “support a local Pride organization of your choice” when purchasing tickets for their annual “pride night”—several of which actively promote irreversible medical “sex change” operations for children. The Ruth Ellis Center, for example, provides “transition care for transgender youth,” including so-called “gender-affirming surgery.” The Trans Sistas of Color Project, another organization on the Tigers’ list, funds groups that perform “chest reconstruction and genital reassignment surgery” and advocate for “empowering transgender youth to make their own decisions regarding puberty blockers.”

Thankfully, pushback against these extreme measures is beginning to mount. Earlier this month, several players on the Tampa Bay Rays refused to wear uniforms with “pride” logos, citing their religious convictions. Furthermore, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a $35 million Rays spring training facility in Odessa, Florida, following the team’s gun control virtue-signaling.

But will actions like these be enough for figures like Manfred to finally get the message? Is there any remaining hope that baseball can indeed remain America’s favorite pastime, free from left-wing radicalism and partisan divisions?

Following the announcement that MLB would move its 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta last April, Stephen Miller, former senior adviser to President Donald Trump, took to Twitter to rail against the decision. “Few sights in the world are more beautiful than our flag waving over the diamond as the anthem plays. Baseball is the American Sport,” he wrote—and the “essence of the American spirit.”

As such, he continued, baseball “has a deep, even sacred, responsibility to ensure the sport remains the inheritance of all Americans—no matter their party or politics. It must be above the petty & partisan.”

But Manfred, Miller went on, has “opened the Pandora’s Box to the hyper-politicization of one of our last truly unifying civic rituals. Those who love & cherish baseball must reclaim the sport for all citizens.”

If Manfred truly wishes for baseball to retain its hallowed status as the national pastime and to “keep the focus on the field,” as he pledged last fall, he has no choice but to reverse course—and quickly.

But given MLB’s rampant escalation of woke politics just this year alone, baseball fans should not hold their breath.