Take Me Out of the Ballgame

One bright spot amid the craziness that marked 2020 was the Dodger World Series championship that I, along with everyone else here in Southern California, celebrated at long last. We never thought, way back in 1988 (the last time we took the series) that it would be 33 years before Los Angeles would take that trophy again. 

I could be classified as a big Dodgers fan, having attended every Opening Day Dodgers game in person since 1978—a minor sort of miracle considering how many things have had to go right in my life to make it so. I am close to my 55th birthday now, but that special streak, begun when I was 12 years old and my father would pull me out of class to attend Opening Day, is about to end.

Opening Day tickets are hard enough to acquire normally in L.A. but when you add no live baseball in Los Angeles for a year and a half, a 20 percent maximum seating capacity due to strict Los Angeles County regulations, and a World Series ring ceremony that hasn’t been held at Dodger Stadium in 33 years, it is easy to see why prices for Opening Day are so expensive. It is a simple matter of supply and demand, and this high school teacher’s resource limit would be pushed to an unrealistic extreme if I were to consider buying a ticket. My wife, bless her, knowing how much this streak has meant to me, suggested I go (alone), paying the $1,500 price for a bad reserve level seat, just to keep the streak alive for another year. While I was touched by her offer, I still found it unreasonable to shell out so much for a baseball game, even if it was for Opening Day.

But then Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made that bitter pill easier for me to swallow. He announced last week that the 2021 All-Star Game would be moved from Atlanta as a punishment for Georgia’s election reform bill, which Governor Brian Kemp signed on March 25.

Aside from a raging pandemic, 2020 will also be remembered for a controversial presidential election. As the governor, Kemp was within his rights to pursue legislation that would not make it harder for people to vote but would ideally make it harder for people to cheat. The good voters of Georgia are free to take action against this bill in accordance with their consciences.

Manfred, however, decided to insert himself and all of Major League Baseball into the politics of the Peach State and removed the midsummer classic from Atlanta as retaliation for the law. I am not from Atlanta and certainly not a Braves fan but my heart goes out to all their fans and everyone in the organization for having the game stripped from their city so ignobly. Manfred’s decision is nothing less than an attempt to bully MLB cities and states into legislating in a manner MLB wants. 

And where will all this political coercion lead? Will Mookie Betts boycott Seattle Mariner games to protest the repatriation of CHAD/CHAZ? Will hot dog distributors engage in political blackmail by withholding their wieners? Will Anheuser Busch ride their Clydesdales over defiant voters who prefer limited government? Will this new virus of political infiltration permeate every aspect of our lives? Must it be so?

Before this happened, I considered my wife’s offer of dipping into our savings to pay a ridiculous amount of money to an LLC worth billions of dollars to watch talented millionaires simply hit and catch baseballs. After all, my Opening Day streak is at 42 years. But now I realize all things must end, including my passion for MLB. I will always be a Dodgers fan, even if MLB and, by extension, the Dodgers are not a fan of me

I began my Opening Day streak when I was a child but that does not mean I have to abide MLB treating my fellow Americans like children. Let Rob Manfred take his game and go home. I too will find something else to do. I have to.

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About Ruben Cueto

Rueben Cueto is a high school teacher in California.

Photo: Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images