Workers load an All-Star sign onto a trailer after it was removed from Truist Park in Atlanta, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Credit: John Spink / Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

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It is pretty difficult for me to describe to people just how much I love the game of baseball.

As a child my biggest — and most unrealistic — ambition was to be a professional baseball player. I played the game growing up. Then when I was an adult and had kids, I played catch in the backyard, I watched games with them, and I coached.

In my mind, baseball is the greatest game ever invented. I love everything about it — the smells, the sounds, and the feeling of being at a ballpark. My bond with the game is deep and my affection strong.

Unfortunately, it seems that for all my love of the game, the game doesn’t love me back.

There are a lot of reasons for me saying that, but the recent decision by Major League Baseball to move their All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, in protest of the recently passed Georgia voting reform law, is chief among them.

The decision represents the pointless, hypocritical virtue signaling of Rob Manfred, who I believe is the worst commissioner of any major sport.

Manfred smells an opportunity, knowing that if he makes a big show of making a “brave stand” on this issue, it will provoke kudos and plaudits from the broader American commentariat.

And best of all, he can do it — or so he thinks — with no real financial risk. The All Star Game will still happen, and it isn’t like the boycott of Georgia extends as far as the Atlanta Braves organization itself.

Who really cares if the whole stand itself is baseless and contrived political nonsense?

Alas, it isn’t that simple.

President Joe Biden had the temerity to claim that the new law represented “Jim Crow for the 21st century,” and to make this absurd claim, Biden and other detractors have been lying. A lot.

He said on March 25, for instance, that the law “ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”

The Washington Post fact checked this, pointing out that the actual hours were not changed at all. “However,” they continued, “the law did make some changes to early voting. But experts say the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.”

And then we have the supposed ban on giving people water in line. This whopper is meant to make you think of trapped citizens wilting in a desert, being prevented from drinking water in the hopes that they’ll drop dead on the spot.

The reality of the situation is that it is meant to be a prohibition on potential political electioneering at a polling place. There is no ban of access to water, and there are in fact specific carve outs that allow for the poll workers at voting locations to provide water for voters in line.

Look, the law is controversial, I’ll give you that. There are provisions that progressives really don’t like for far more honest reasons. I myself don’t love everything in the law. But people of good faith could debate this issue and not come away thinking the other was an enemy of democracy.

But that’s not what we get in this hyper-political, divisive world we live in. To the left, Georgia’s law is an evil, racist attempt to rig the game and shut out voters, despite those laws looking very similar to laws in other states.

Interestingly, Biden and the Democrats had their 2020 nominating convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, despite the fact that Wisconsin has strict voter identification laws, and a shorter period of early voting than Georgia does, among other similarities.

Funny how things like that aren’t much of a problem when Democrats are trying to win votes from post-industrial swing states that went to Donald Trump in 2016, but are apparently a problem now.

In the end, Major League Baseball made a decision to enter the political debate, and take sides with the American left. They also punished the state of Georgia — and the majority Black city of Atlanta — for political decisions made by a small subset of its citizenry.

In so doing, they alienated half the country, who is not only sick of everything being twisted by politics, but is sick of being lectured by elites.

Commissioner Manfred may have thought this was an easy way to generate some buzz for a sport that is struggling to keep up with the narrow, fickle attention spans of modern American. But, in the end, all he did was make it dramatically less likely that people like me — who desperately love the game — even bother turning it on.

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Policy Institute, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist...