President Joe Biden on Wednesday addressed two burning issues ahead of Major League Baseball’s opening day.
He criticized the Texas Rangers’ decision to allow a full-capacity crowd amid the concerns of his top health officials over recent spikes in COVID-19 cases. The President also said he would strongly support moving the MLB All-Star Game away from Atlanta, GA in protest of the state’s new restrictive voting law.
The Rangers, with no objection from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, made the decision to allow more than 40,000 to attend games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted Coronavirus restrictions last month. Fans will be required to wear masks inside the stadium, except when actively eating and drinking.
“I think it’s a mistake,” Biden told ESPN reporter Sage Steele. “They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”
The President’s sharp criticism comes two days after Manfred told the Associated Press that he’s hopeful for full attendance at ballparks across the country this year.
“I hope by midsummer that we have ballparks that are unrestricted and we have full fan access,” Manfred said.
MLB Opening Day arrives Thursday and the Rangers will be the only team hosting a packed stadium full of fans. The majority of clubs are expected to hosting anywhere between 12-to-30 percent capacity for home games, depending on the state guidelines.
When asked about the All-Star Game, Biden’s response was clear.
“The very people who were victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right,” Biden said. “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”
“Imagine passing the law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can’t do that? Come on,” Biden added, referring to one of the provisions of the law signed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp last week.
Outside of Biden’s calls to move the game away from Georgia, several corporations that are headquartered in the state including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines have called the law “unacceptable.” A sweeping new round of criticism as the companies and organizations work to remove themselves from GA SB 202.
Some civil rights leaders are also calling on the PGA to relocate The Masters this year. The tour’s biggest event is scheduled to start Thursday, April 8 in Augusta, GA.