“It’s about time that we’re again,” Manfred mentioned that day.
Quick-forward 632 days: MLB introduced it was transferring the All-Star sport and novice draft out of Georgia on April 2 in response to the state’s new voting regulation. Manfred made the choice eight days after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the sweeping elections overhaul into regulation, a transfer met with robust opposition from voting rights activists.
President Biden supported MLB’s determination. Kemp and others criticized it. The Braves issued a press release saying they had been “deeply disillusioned” within the determination. It was a hot-button subject round Georgia and all through the nation. At a time when sports activities and politics have by no means intersected extra, this was the last word instance.
Manfred in April: “I’ve determined that one of the simplest ways to exhibit our values as a sport is by relocating this yr’s All-Star sport and MLB Draft.”
Days later, the 91st All-Star sport was relocated to Denver. It was welcomed information for the Mile Excessive Metropolis, which has had a tenuous relationship with its Rockies and workforce possession, who initiated a roster teardown that at the moment has the Rockies amongst baseball’s worst golf equipment.
Denver is an efficient baseball city, although it lacks the historical past of Atlanta, Los Angeles or Chicago. “LoDo,” the decrease downtown space brimming with bars and eating places close to Coors Subject, is the proper backdrop for an All-Star occasion. Town has vitality, vigorous crowds, and a thirst for baseball.
However Atlanta has its personal promoting factors, and people would’ve been on full show this week. There aren’t many cities with extra baseball historical past than Georgia’s capital, the place the good Henry Aaron referred to as dwelling till his demise in January. Celebrating Aaron’s life was on the forefront of the Braves’ All-Star plans.
Denver, in the meantime, assembled its All-Star ambiance basically on the fly, with a number of months to arrange for an occasion that’s normally set years upfront. The Futures Recreation, celeb softball sport, dwelling run derby and the midsummer traditional all shifted to the mountain land.
Caleb Seitz, a Louisiana native who lives in Parker, a Denver suburb, was amongst these pressured to change their plans. Seitz is a Braves fan who was excited to see Truist Park for the primary time, however his Atlanta trip was only a half-hour trek into downtown Denver.
“I’m a Braves fan at coronary heart, my uncle lives in Atlanta and the plan was to go there,” Seitz mentioned. “However then they got here out right here. So I assume it’s a blessing in disguise, if you wish to name it that. Nevertheless it’s not cool they modified it, as a result of ‘Go Braves,’ however I’m OK with it being right here.”
Seitz was removed from the one particular person with a glass-half-full strategy. Michael Harris and Drew Waters, the pair of Braves outfield prospects and Atlanta-area natives who represented the workforce in Sunday’s Futures Recreation, admitted it might’ve been enjoyable to play the exhibition at Truist Park. The injured Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman had been chosen to play within the All-Star sport that might have been of their dwelling stadium.
“It’s disappointing for the Atlanta neighborhood,” Freeman mentioned Monday. “Everybody round right here is getting numerous enterprise coming off COVID. That’s the one factor. I really feel unhealthy for the folks in the neighborhood across the stadium that might’ve completed numerous enterprise.”
Denver’s native companies have benefited. The historic Larimer Sq., stocked with outlets and eating choices, is shrouded in All-Star ads. The hashish station nearest to Coors Subject was promoting “Rocky Mountain Excessive” shirts, with the All-Star emblem reworked right into a purple hashish leaf. McGregor Sq., simply within the shadow of Coors Subject, was electrical with its packed eating places and shops, making one marvel how The Battery would examine.
McGregor Sq. held its grand opening final month. It describes itself as the next: “McGregor Sq. ushers in a brand new chapter of luxurious dwelling, leisure, meals, and enterprise journey in Colorado’s historic metropolis. Tattered Cowl, a Denver bookstore that opened a location within the sq., basked within the tourism growth. Simply exterior its doorways was a pop-up store that includes one of many largest collections of baseball books assembled within the nation. Spanning a whole block, the advanced consists of The Rally Lodge, McGregor Sq. Residences, eating places and stores, a meals corridor, an expansive outside plaza, and fashionable workplace house.”
Simply throughout the road, extra baseball historical past might be made. A number of future Corridor of Famers on the identical subject. A packed stadium having fun with a return to 100% capability after a attempting yr of the pandemic.
Internet hosting the All-Star Recreation will be the Rockies’ largest win of the season. Shedding it might be the Braves’ largest loss.