Arizona’s All-Star Game Hoopla
Arizona Will Seem Like The Center Of The Universe July 12 As Sport Collides With Politics
Chase Field's roof is expected to be open for the finale of the Home Run Derby.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
July 6, 2011 — Last year, soon after the state legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer passed and signed SB 1070, calls went out for Major League Baseball to take the game away from Phoenix and the Arizona Diamondbacks. That never happened, but make no mistake, the 2011 All-Star Game will be like no other in recent memory.
Although the 2011 Phoenix All-Star game will likely be as memorable as the others have been (since the games started meaning something) the political ramifications will be felt.
Puente Arizona will be protesting before the game and even if the network television cameras do not cover their event, their voices will definitely be heard. The lone protesters at every Dbacks game are already noticeable. It will be virtually impossible for those attending the 2011 All-Star Game to ignore the protesters.
But what will most likely have the most impact will be the “Unite AZ: We are All-Stars” campaign initiated by Somos America. The group is calling for all those who feel that immigration is a federal, not a state issue, to wear white ribbons.
“Unite Arizona: We Are All Stars organizers are asking supporters and attendees to wear a white ribbon in support of real All-Stars throughout the fan week and at the All Star game. Our All Stars are the people across Arizona who have taken a stand against legislation that divides, folks who work everyday to showcase the rich heritage and diversity that Arizonans truly value,” according to a press release from Somos America. “Wear your white ribbon, join us, and take a stand in support of a federal approach — not a piece-meal state approach—to fix our broken immigration system. Take a stand against divisive hate-based legislation. We are asking supporters from across the country – fans and players alike – to wear symbolic white ribbons and show the richness of diversity that makes Arizona and America strong.”
There have been no mention if any players will join in, but one would have to think a few will. Perhaps the best Mexican baseball player in the game today — and outspoken critic of SB 1070, Adrian Gonzalez — will be among them.
Hurrah for all sides since Arizona baseball fans will have the chance to have a great weekend of baseball celebration exempted from anger over a law, a potential boycott and promised protests over a state action that has nothing to do with the game itself.
Sure, making an example of Arizona and the All-Star Game because of the state’s association with SB 1070 is a political means to make a point. And now, with large protests all but ruled out, the reaction now seems appropriately measured to the action.
Hopefully, everyone can just enjoy the game while opponents of SB 1070 can still wear a white ribbon to show that although they love baseball, it is not baseball's fault that the Arizona legislature and governor passed this bill.
And what an extended weekend it will be. Fan Fest starts Saturday, July 9 and brings stuff like the largest baseball, memorabilia and interactive games and activities to the Phoenix Convention Center. Then, on Sunday is the celebrity softball game (the most boring event for regular fans) and the Futures Game. Washington Nationals legend-in-the-making, Bryce Harper will be in the Futures Game, as will Arizona Diamondback studs Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler Skaggs.
For those that don’t know, Goldschmidt is tearing up the Southern League while playing for the Diamondbacks’ AA affiliate in Alabama, the Mobile Bay Bears. “Goldie” is batting .312 on the year with 25 home runs and 75 runs batted in.
Skaggs — who will turn 20 the day after the All-Star Game — was acquired in the Dan Haren trade and is 5-5 with a 3.23 earned run average in the hitter friendly California League.
Of course, Monday brings the Home Run Derby — undoubtedly the jewel of every All-Star Game — and Tuesday is the big daddy.
Thankfully with the Unite AZ campaign of wearing white ribbons allows all baseball fans — even those who dislike SB 1070 — can enjoy baseball’s second-most premier event (besides the World Series).
And, hopefully, the Valley can hit a home run as hosts of the game.
“Going, going …”
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.