Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will not be throwing the first pitch for the Texas Rangers for their first home opener at their brand new stadium this evening, and he won't encourage the state to host any more special MLB events this season. Abbott's decision comes after the league pulled its 2021 All-Star Game and Draft from Atlanta due to Georgia's newest voting bill.
In a letter written to the team, Abbott said he was "looking forward" to throwing the first pitch but could not support the league after they adopted a "false narrative" on Georgia's election law reform.
"It is shameful that America's pastime is being influenced by partisan politics," Abbott said in a tweet.
I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opening game until @MLB adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia's election law reforms.
It is shameful that America's pastime is being influenced by partisan politics. pic.twitter.com/pNJApYBHpw
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 5, 2021
Supporters of the new bill is crucial to upholding "election integrity", but many others feel differently, labeling the bill "Jim Crow 2.0."
The "Election Integrity Act of 2021" is a response to the GOP's widespread, but unfounded, claims of voter-by-mail fraud in the 2020 election and will change the way Georgians vote. Changes to mail-in ballots include requiring IDs to apply for absentee ballots, cutting the number of days that absentee ballots are available in half and limiting the amount of absentee ballot drop boxes. The state will also expand early voting hours and allow counties to start processing votes two weeks before Election Day.
While GOP leaders have embraced the bill, dissenters including President Joe Biden and MLB league commissioner Rob Manfred said that the law could disproportionately affect communities of color.
"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said. "Fair access to voting continues to have our game's unwavering support."
Abbott, who is working on orders in Texas that would limit mail-in voting procedures, said he was disappointed in the league for not only bringing politics in the game but also for pushing what he described as a false narrative around the bill.
"Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star game from Atlanta," Abbott said. "It is shameful that America's pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives."
Abbott may have boycotted the league, but he's still in support of the Rangers, a program he said is "outstanding from top to bottom." Abbott last threw the first pitch for the team in 2019.
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