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Major League Baseball's C-Suite Cowardice

Salena Zito on

Last April, when Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game out of suburban Atlanta in what it thought was a strident example of the powerful corporate punishment states would face if Republican lawmakers passed laws MLB did not like, its corporate, academic and cultural peers applauded the move.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's decision was seen by those who agreed with him as a heroic one that leading American institutions should make when they want to counter what they consider a societal wrong.

In fact, Manfred was just trying to avoid being canceled by the mob. If he had really believed in what he did, he would have made a statement the day after the Atlanta Braves clinched their division last week declaring that none of the World Series games would be played in Atlanta because he is standing on his principles, outlined in the boycott.

But all along, Manfred acted from fear, not principle. He did not want anyone to protest MLB, so he cowered, accepted the mob's lies about the legislation in question and disparaged an entire state just to avoid a boycott.

That's what we call C-suite cowardice -- the way corporate America cries uncle, usually silently. Our cultural curators in corporations, academia, entertainment and the media will willingly make that happen over and over again until the day comes when people wise up and decide that the emperors have no clothes -- that the curators' opinions mean nothing.

For lifelong Atlanta Braves fan Joe Cobb, that tipping point already came. When I interviewed him in Georgia last spring about the boycott, Cobb said he was done with MLB, despite his undying love for the Atlanta Braves.

 

He has not looked back. Cobb said it isn't as hard as he had expected to follow through on his principled stand of refusal to consume something that had been such a part of his life. "If Major League Baseball truly wanted to make a statement," he told me, "they would have said, 'Not only will there be no All-Star Game in Georgia, there will be no playoff games or World Series played here as well.'"

The Athens native, who works as a training manager for a Fortune 500 company, remarked that there has not been a peep about Georgia's election reform law as the Braves have moved into the playoffs and now into the World Series. To him, that shows just how hollow and purely performative MLB's decision was last spring.

"I publicly said I would not watch the Braves, and I meant what I said," he added. "I know I'm just one voice. To me, the problem is that so many people caved, and now what do we have? Well, we have the World Series. That's great. And we've got full stadiums. That's great. But you know what else we have? Major League Baseball wasn't penalized. They got away with it. They were able to dictate and change people's lives, and there's no penalty for it."

The Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau estimated a loss of over $100 million in total for businesses across the county without the nearly weeklong event the All-Star Game host city experiences. Critics in corporate media who shared MLB's sentiments on moving the game to Denver predictably downplayed that number.

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