Under Pressure: Arizona D-backs Owner Comes Out Softly Against Anti-immigrant Bill

A month ago, very few baseball fans could have identified the name Ken Kendrick (was that the third basemen whose defense stopped Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak? No, that was Ken Keltner.) Now he is known across the land as the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and one of the primary financial backers of the state Republican Party who passed the anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070, which codifies racial profiling in “the Grand Canyon State”. His team has now morphed into the SB 1070 Traveling Road Show, drawing crowds of protestors to every park from Colorado to Chicago. Since the law was passed, numerous big leaguers and the Major League Players Association have also come out against the already infamous legislation. One of Kendrick’s own players, Augie Ojeda, a US citizen born in Los Angeles, backed the union’s opposition and said, “I don’t know the details, but if I leave the park after a game and I get stopped, am I supposed to have papers with me? I don’t think that’s fair….My neighbor is a policeman. I asked him what it means, and he said he had no idea. If he doesn’t know, I don’t know who would.”


Now Kendrick has emerged from the shadows to disassociate himself and his team from the bill… sort of. He had a team spokesperson release the following statement:


“Although D-backs' Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past, the organization has communicated to Arizona Boycott 2010 leader Tony Herrera that Kendrick personally opposes State (sic) Bill 1070.”


The team also released an even more obtuse press release, saying,


“We acknowledge the statement from Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner and share the same concerns of the impact Arizona's immigration law will have on Major League players. However, we believe the federal government should act swiftly to address the immigration issue once and for all. We certainly are well aware of the struggles our state has due to federal inaction on illegal immigration. The fallout of recent state legislation has a direct impact on many of our players, employees and fans in Arizona, not to mention our local businesses, many of which are corporate partners of ours. Unfortunately, this whole situation is sad and disappointing for all of us who are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. We remain hopeful that this situation can be resolved in a manner that does not cause harm to our great state."


There are several lessons to be drawn from the above comments. First and foremost, they are concessions. Without the pressure of the Arizona Boycott, the union, and the stadium protests there is no way whatsoever Kendrick releases these statements. Secondly, now is the time to actually step up the protests at the park. We should demand that Ken Kendrick himself stop hiding behind PR flaks and speak to the cameras about his opposition to SB 1070. He should declare that not one more dime from his bottomless pockets will go toward the state Republican Party until SB 1070 is overturned. He should also support the effort to have Major League Baseball remove the All Star Game from Phoenix if SB 1070 is still on the books, no matter the personal financial cost. In other words, he should put his money where his PR director’s mouth is. Until Ken Kendrick takes these, or similar, steps, all recent statements from the team should be seen for what they are: ploys to deflect and cushion the growing national anger toward his team and toward his state. If the D-backs are in your town, get there early with 50 of your closest friends and tell the fans that Arizona has earned pariah status until SB 1070 is filed into the dustbin of history.



First published at thenation.com.


[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

5 Reader Comments | Add a comment

Demagogue Dave Zirin: Free Speech for Me, But Not for Thee

The Arizona law will likely be found unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause, and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. It's a terrible law, suitable for a police state.

However, you Demagogue Dave Zirin are a laughably hypocritical voice on this topic. You have no credibility to stand up for civil liberties at this time.

You hypocritically wanted to censor Tim Tebow's right to free speech on abortion, yet you scream free speech when the Cubs censor free speech.

You take on the mantle of due process now, but you demogogically called the innocent Duke students (and now Roethlisberger) rapists based solely on initial police reports.

Voltaire said: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

However, you clearly subscribe to another Communist's views: "Power grows out of the barrel of a gun." -- Chairman Mao.

That's the funny thing about civil liberties Dave-- either everyone gets them, or no one is safe.

You simply have no credibility on civil liberties Demagogue Dave Zirin.


I am glad that Mr. Kendrick's statement has been acknowledged. While i am unsure if he should put money where his mouth is, the fact that this has been recognized is very good. Onward and upwards!



Unlike you I am not surrounded by a plethora of friends. 50 indeed! I also don't know if the 'Twinkies' have Arizona on their schedule in the interleague play. I encourage those that can to keep the pressure on.


I see the "redial" is working splendidly.

Careful now..

Tornado necessarily shifted the definition of that most sacred of buzz phrases "free speech" in order to justify his name-calling.. but nothing else. There is no real argument, only emotion. We all have credibility to discuss civil liberties, especially when writing our opinions.

In the case of the Center for New Community and the Wrigley Field scoreboard, they were attempting to pay for their political views. Whether or not we like their message, or their method, they were clearly denied their right to buy "free speech".

In the case of Tim Tebow's Super Bowl message, Focus on the Family was attempting to pay for their political views. Whether or not we agree, they were clearly given their right to buy "free speech".

Shall we spell out the shifty definition of "free speech" any further, oh credible ones? Or should I start quoting mighty Thrasymachus and then call somebody naive?

Free Speech

Daves complaint against the Tebow add was that political speech was not allowed by the super bowl broadcaster. Other groups were denied access based on the political content of there adds, i.e., PETA and Moveon.org. It was the two different standards that was the problem. Dave never suggested censorship only fairness.
As for rothlisberger and the duke students those articles were about how we treat people accused of crimes differently based on social status and race. Dave may have an opionion on there guilt or innocence, rightly or wrongly, but he never suggested circumventing fair treatment for them by law enfocement officials.
He also did not suggest that the cubs did not have the right to do what they did, only that he thought it was an act of cowardice.
How this has infringed on anyones right to free speech or due process is beyond me. Personally sir I think you need to think things through a little more before you start throughing around your weekly vocabulary word. "Demagouge" indeed.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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