- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2021

If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to be consistent, he should reconsider his membership in the Augusta National Golf Club, as far as Sen. Marco Rubio is concerned.

The Florida Republican fired off a letter Monday accusing Manfred of hypocrisy for pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta over Georgia’s newly signed election-integrity law, pointing out that the league still has business relationships with China and Cuba.

“Taking the All-Star game out of Georgia is an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout. But speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party would involve a significant loss of revenue and being closed out of a lucrative market,” Rubio said in his letter.

And then there’s Manfred’s reported membership in Augusta National, also located in Georgia, which hosts the annual Masters Tournament.

At least one advocacy group, the National Black Justice Coalition, has called on the PGA to relocate the Masters, which begins pre-tournament events today. The players tee up Thursday.

“I am under no illusion that Major League Baseball will sacrifice business revenue on behalf of its alleged corporate values,” Rubio said. “Similarly, I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club. To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”

The exclusive, famously private Augusta golf club has only 300 members, including Manfred, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rubio wasn’t the only Republican lawmaker pushing back against Manfred and MLB.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would skip throwing the ceremonial first pitch as planned at the Texas Rangers’ home opener.

The governor’s decision came hours before the team was set to take the field Monday night against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Dallas suburb of Arlington.

In the letter, Abbott said he will no longer participate in and that Texas won’t seek to host any future MLB events.

“It is shameful that America’s pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives,” Abbott said.

Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021 expands voting hours but also tightens identification requirements for absentee voting, bars handing out food and drinks for voters within 150 feet of polling places, bans the mobile-voting buses used during last year’s pandemic and reduces the number of drop boxes for ballots.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said in his Friday statement.

But Rubio said the decision would hurt “countless small and minority-owned businesses in and around Atlanta.”

The Atlanta Braves released a similar statement after the game was pulled from Truist Park.

“The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion,” the statement read. “Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.

“Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision,” the club said.

Manfred’s decision “reeks of hypocrisy,” Rubio said.

“What would be truly bold, however, is if you would speak out on behalf of the voiceless who face arbitrary imprisonment, forced sterilization, coerced abortions, rape, and other horrific acts at the hands of one of your business partners,” said Rubio, referring to China.

Both China and Cuba are one-party states where national candidates are pre-selected by the party, and neither nation holds free elections, according to Freedom House, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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