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When the Arizona Diamondbacks arrived at Fenway Park last Tuesday their baggage was waiting for them. No, the Red Sox haven’t started a valet service for opposing teams. Protesters, angered over a new Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, but seen by many as going too far, have been making noise around anything Arizona-related for the last few months in hopes of reversing the new regulations.
The United States is a country founded by immigrants and it seems impossible that a law creating a regime where asking citizens to show their “papers” or face legal troubles has become reality. While the Diamondbacks as a team haven’t made a statement one way or the other on the new law, managing partner Ken Kendrick has said he personally opposes it. With more than 28% of Diamondbacks players being immigrants, this could become an important issue for the team. Even the Red Sox, famously the last team to break the color barrier are now just over a quarter foreign-born. On June 6, the Red Sox fielded their first all African-American outfield (Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, Bill Hall) since 2001 (Troy O’Leary, Carl Everett, Darren Lewis).
One of the suggestions proposed to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is to move the 2011 All-Star Game, currently scheduled to be played in Phoenix, to another location. This isn’t without precedent in the sports world. In 1993, the NFL opted to move the SuperBowl from, again, Phoenix, when the state of Arizona voted not to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So far, Selig has refused to take this action but if he is smart he can right two wrongs by taking the game away from Arizona where the spotlight would be shared between MLB and the protesters.
The Solution for Selig is simple: correct the wrong of giving the Kansas City Royals the 2012 All-Star Game instead of using it to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. The reason the Red Sox were denied with this honor is because the team just hosted the All-Star Game in 1999. At the time, it was seen as a farewell of sorts for Ted Williams and Fenway Park itself, with plans being discussed for a new, modern stadium.
However, there is another 100 year anniversary: the 100th season. Like the millennium ending in 2000 rather than 1999 because there was no year zero, Fenway Park was in its own “year zero” during the 1912 season. 2011 would be the 100th season of baseball played in Fenway Park. Selig has the opportunity to right two wrongs: take a simple stand against a discriminatory law and give the Red Sox a chance to celebrate baseball’s oldest stadium in style.