Every sportswriter and blogger who has dared to step outside the white lines of the playing field to offer his or her opinion on something not directly related to sports has heard it – “Why are you commenting on (insert subject) – I read this, or watch, or listen to this, for (insert sport), not to get your opinion on anything else!”
I understand that sentiment. But there come times when a writer is compelled to go above and beyond the boxscore. Today one of my fellow Dodgers writers, Daniel Brim from “Dodgers Digest”, took a great big swing at the arguably non-baseball topic of the newly imposed ban on Muslims from selected countries, which denies them admittance into the United States.
Brim’s article “The Muslim Ban and Sticking to Baseball” is well worth a read, and I’m here to add LA Dodger Report’s voice to his call for the Dodgers and Major League Baseball to take a stand on the discriminatory ban. He did an excellent job of laying out the historical international numbers for baseball, and how this ban might affect MLB’s desire to expand their brand worldwide.
The Dodgers are in the right position to take a lead in this morally correct stand. They certainly have the history and the gravitas, hard-earned through leading the integration of baseball with the signing of the first African-American baseball player, Jackie Robinson. You think that wasn’t political? It’s impact was felt in almost every aspect of American life. If that aint political, then I don’t know what is.
The Dodgers have a long history in leading baseball’s expansion into the international ranks. They introduced us to Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico), Chan Ho Park (Korea), Hideo Nomo (Japan), and Yasiel Puig (Cuba). They have an Okinawan-born manager who’s parents are African-American and Japanese, and the examples go on and on.
The blind hatred that supports the Muslim ban is antithetical to the Dodgers’ culture. When Dodger exec Al Campanis made statements that African-Americans “may lack the necessities” to be major league managers, the Dodgers didn’t brush it off as “locker room talk”. Campanis was quickly shown the door, because it was the right thing to do.
Now the right thing is to speak out against the prejudice and hatred this un-American ban is built upon. I’m commenting from a little ol’ baseball blog; but if the Dodgers and MLB weighed in, they would be commenting with one of the biggest microphones available.
This article’s lead photo features two signs that read “I love my Muslim neighbors” and “Refugees welcome”. Last night I played poker with my friend of 17 years, an Iranian Muslim, so I know people directly affected by the ban. But you didn’t come here to read about my friends. You want baseball connections, right? Here’s one: Daniel Brim points out in his article the father of Yu Darvish is an Iranian Muslim. Because of the ban, he won’t be able to travel to the states to see his own son play baseball. This ban is certainly real for Yu Darvish.
Today they are excluding Muslims from seven countries, and it’s a greasy, slippery, slimy slope to banning all Muslims. Observe how fast this ban was implemented, and how bold they are in enforcing all of it, despite federal court orders to cease some aspects. The ban very well might be unconstitutional, and it is certainly immoral. This is just a first step, and one that must be resisted and pushed back on.
When the Dodgers outbid several other teams to sign Yasiel Puig, they hung a big sign over Dodger Stadium’s door that said the same thing as that marcher’s sign: “Refugees Welcome”. Puig is not a unique case. MLB has had plenty of high profile bidding wars for Cuban refugees.
I get it. You’re probably saying, “That’s not the same thing as being a Syrian refugee.” Agreed.
That said, if MLB and the Dodgers can extend their arms wide open for gifted athletes that will bring them hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, they can certainly hold out a hand for an innocent child.