Given that Major League Baseball doesn’t exactly have a terrific record for tackling racial discrimination, news on Friday that MLB was playing the All-Star Game on July 13 because of the new electoral suppression law could be in Georgia relocated from Atlanta has been deemed a belated April Fool’s Day joke.

But it really happened.

MLB chooses to play on the right side of history this year, postponing both the game and July amateur draft, as Georgia Republican governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that all pundits approve, that it would be more difficult for people of color to vote – fair because they tend to vote for Democrats.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and rejects ballot box restrictions,” said Commissioner Rob Manfred. “Fair access to voting continues to be steadfastly supported by our game.”

Even so, MLB can do a home run trot to ignore potential setbacks on the right and follow a brave example from other leagues.

Given the history of Major League Baseball, it is a pleasant surprise that the league takes such a principled position.

MLB did not issue a statement condemning the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May for nine days – long after any other major American sports league did.

Until Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, MLB banned black players from its fields for generations. The records of 3,400 professional players who were transferred to the Negro leagues due to the racist policies of MLB were not counted until December 2020. MLB didn’t have its first team black field manager until 1975 when Frank Robinson led Cleveland.

And MLB didn’t have a general manager until Kim Ng joined the Miami Marlins last year. Ng, an Asian American with 30 years of front office experience, might have been evaded for a GM job if she hadn’t been hired by Derek Jeter, the only black CEO in the big leagues.

And MLB still has two franchises with racially insensitive names: the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta fans are actually encouraged to make stereotypical “tribal” noises and pretend to be chopping with Styrofoam tomahawks during games.

Given the history of Major League Baseball, it is a pleasant surprise that the league takes such a principled position.

According to Cleveland’s ownership, the team will have a new name next year. But as soon as MLB announced the All-Star Game, the Atlanta baseball team criticized the decision. And even if Atlanta management said it was terrible just trying to appease its politically conservative fans in the state.

Even so, MLB can do a home run trot to ignore potential setbacks on the right and follow a brave example from other leagues. And the praise came as quickly as a Gatorade bathroom after a game-winning goal.

“Way to be a leader and take a strong stance!” Basketball legend Magic Johnson, a partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers, tweeted. “That was a pretty big and bold move by baseball, and I’m proud that they stand up for the people’s voting rights,” said Dusty Baker, Houston Astros manager, who played in Atlanta for the first eight years of his career.

Basketball superstar LeBron James, who recently became a partner in the Boston Red Sox, tweeted, “I’m proud to call myself part of the @mlb family today.”

The credit is deserved, although MLB did not take the lead on this issue.

More than 70 black executives, including the CEOs of American Express and Merck, had already signed a letter condemning the Georgia bill. Coca-Cola and Delta from Atlanta as well as the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League and the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association spoke out against the bill.

Also, two days before MLB’s decision, President Joe Biden said he would be in favor of relocating the All-Star game.

After a game-winning hit, MLB was praised as quickly as a Gatorade bathroom.

There are also plenty of precedents to take your ball and go elsewhere.

The National Football League moved Super Bowl XXVII from Arizona to Pasadena, California in 1993 after the Arizonans rejected an initiative to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday. Ever since Arizona came to its senses, the NFL has allowed the state to host Super Bowls.

The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans because of a 2016 law passed in North Carolina preventing local governments from extending civil rights protection to gays and transgender people. Bathroom Bill “known by the state,” In part to prevent transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice). (The National Collegiate Athletic Association also moved its 2016 and 2017 events out of North Carolina.) After the state repealed portions of the law, Charlotte hosted the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.

America’s culture wars are unlikely to end anytime soon – and certainly not in formerly auburn Georgia, where voters have now elected Democrats for president and both seats in the US Senate, leading to Georgia’s electoral repression law.

If you can’t beat them, the Republicans who still controlled the statehouse seemed to be saying they were disenfranchising them. And then accuse them of threatening US democracy.

“Georgia is not bullied by socialists and their sympathizers,” Kemp said in response to MLB’s decision. “We will continue to advocate for accessible, safe elections that are free and fair.”

The bill that Kemp signed doesn’t do that, of course, which is why it’s so widespread. Kemp complains about “breaking off culture and awakening political activists” who come after “you” – but by “you” he only means white conservatives, not the people he disenfranchises.

Regardless of what Kemp says, Georgia lost the all-star game not because of “wakefulness” or “culture break”, but because of its authoritarianism and undemocratic politics.

It turns out that these guidelines are costly to everyone. Economists say an all-star baseball game played in a big city like Atlanta can raise up to $ 100 million in local coffers. Now all the money is going to go elsewhere.

Maybe it’s off to Los Angeles, where the 2020 All-Star Game would have been played without the Covid-19 pandemic. Washington, DC, which will host the 2018 Game, and Cleveland, which will host the 2019 Game, are also options as MLB has been grappling with an unjust law and decided to do the right thing.