CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —
I congratulate Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred for his decision to move the all-star game out of Atlanta, Ga.
It was a direct result of the new anti-democratic Georgia restrictive voting laws passed on March 26 by Gov. Brian Kemp. Limiting where and when an individual can vote, tough new ID requirements and reducing access to vote in the poor and Black communities in a state where their own justice department categorized the 2020 federal election as both fair and honest is a dangerous piece of legislation. When then President Donald Trump called the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to find 11,800 votes in Georgia to overturn the election results, he was told to get lost.
Honesty and integrity cost Raffensperger his job as he is now out as chairman of the Georgia election board.
Former New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson, who works with the players’ association, told the media that players are wholly supportive of moving the all-star game. The enormously popular Granderson has written books for children, won a host of awards, including the Roberto Clemente Award for humanity, and is a born leader. His stance on the matter speaks volumes.
Granderson is dead against the Georgia legislation and against other states pursuing such outrageous moves in that direction. We all should be against legislation that eats away at democracy in both the USA and Canada, so let’s applaud Manfred’s decision.
The Blue Jays missed a chance to jump into the American League East lead, losing two of three games against a mediocre Texas club after taking two of three against the Yankees in New York.
It was disappointing to see the Jays slip to 3-3 heading into a weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels and sad to see almost 40,000 fans at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex., for the home opener in the midst of a pandemic.
There is much to like about the Jays, and I am certain they are a playoff club. The hitters are struggling right now, but newcomer Marcus Semien has really impressed. The most talked-about Blue Jay in the early going, however, is flame-throwing reliever Julian Merryweather with his 100-mile-per-hour fastball and a dazzling straight change. He’s a treat to watch.
Georgia remains in the spotlight this week as the Masters is now underway at Augusta National, one of the most famous golf courses in the world. I was surprised to see Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, now a resident of Florida, sticking up for baseball’s decision to move the all-star game. Those remarks will not go over well in Georgia or with the Augusta crowd never known for its support of minorities or the less well-to-do folks.
Ironically, the honorary starter at the Masters is Lee Elder, the first black player ever to play Augusta starting in the 1975 Masters after receiving a mailbag full of best wishes.
I visited some of the Las Vegas wagering sites to get a feel on how the oddsmakers saw the Masters heading into the competition.
McIlroy has had six top-10 finishes in his last seven trips to the Masters and he was listed at +1900, which means if you wager $100 on Rory to win and he does, you pocket $1,900. The favourites with the Vegas bookies were Dustin Johnson at +$950, Jordan Spieth at +1150, Bryson DeChambeau +1100 and maybe the best bet of all Brooks Koepka at +$2800.
On the island golf scene, some of the fanatic golfers are out playing this weekend with Avondale open, but don’t count me on that group. I only play at 15 C and above, so May is my start.
Ontario harness racing lost one of its greatest supporters with the passing of lawyer Bob Burgess QC, a prominent breeder and builder starting with Cantario Farms in the early 1970s.
Bob was one of the breeders that challenged the Ontario government in court and won on the slots at racetracks cancellation fiasco a few years ago. Bob brought in the double-gaited trot bred stallion High Level in the late 1960s and later the great Balanced Image. He also owned many great horses like Amity Chef and Frugal Gourmet to name a few. He was at The Stable.Ca watching some of his babies in training last Saturday morning and appeared in good health. He passed away later that day.
Numerous Ontario-owned horses that normally race at Mohawk and other Ontario tracks are now racing south of the border as long as they reside in the state or are with USA trainers.
The delays in not having available vaccines to combat COVID-19 is a national disgrace in Canada and is causing huge problems for harness racing. Ontario tracks remain closed for the remainder of April, while the NHL, with its deep pockets, plays hockey in Toronto but without fans. Mohawk also does not allow fans, but it is closed. It makes no sense until one considers the powerful NHL lobby.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at [email protected]