Brewers All-Star Yovanni Gallardo: “I’ll totally boycott” 2011 All-Star game in AZ

Brewers pitcher Yovanni Gallardo is sitting out tonight’s All-Star game in Los Angeles — he hurt his back last week and hasn’t played since. Next year’s All-Star Game is in Arizona, and the Brewer’s best pitcher won’t play in that game either, but for different reasons.

“If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott,” Gallardo said yesterday during an interview with the Associated Press. Gallardo is just one of several other high-profile Latin American players who have promised a boycott of the game over Arizona’s ridiculous anti-immigration law.

Other prominent Latin players, including Albert Pujols from the Cardinals and former Arizona All-Star Tony Clark, have come out against the law, and several potential All-Stars for next year have promised a boycott as well.

The powerful baseball player’s union came out strongly against the law right away and promised “additional steps” if the law isn’t repealed or changed. Latin American players account for more than 25% of all Major League players. Half of Major League teams have their spring training facilities in Arizona and the percentage is even higher in the minor leagues according to Yahoo Sports, so it’s no surprise the union is wary of the racial profiling required by the law that would certainly target Latin players.

This isn’t the the first time Arizona has been caught in the crossroads of sports and racial issues either. The NFL moved the Super Bowl from Arizona to California in 1993 because the Arizona refused to adopt Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official state holiday. Interesting side note, then-Representative John McCain (R-AZ) voted against the 1983 bill that established MLK Day as a national holiday.

Voces de la Frontera, one of Wisconsin’s worker and immigrant right groups, is leading the fight in Wisconsin to get MLB to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona. You can check out their petition and take action here.Wisconsinites have a unique opportunity to impact this debate: current Major League Baseball Commission Bud Selig is from Wisconsin and used to own the Brewers.

As pressure mounts, baseball should listen to the concerns of its Latin players and move the game. If Arizona wants to enact these laws, the conservative political leaders behind the anti-immigration law need to accept the consequences. Baseball is a business -it’s an industry that could be severely impacted by the law, especially if its players start ending up in Arizona jails because they forgot to carry their passport. Why should Arizona get the privilege of hosting baseball’s mid-summer party when its state laws discriminate against a quarter of baseball’s workforce?

And hey, maybe the game could come to Milwaukee. Wisconsin would love to host. And I’m sure baseball fans would love to see an All-Star Game in Milwaukee that is guaranteed not to end in a tie.

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