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In 1968, I got the thrill of a nine-year-old lifetime: The National League brought in my new hero, Jerry Koosman — my beloved Mets’ second-best pitcher — to strike out Carl Yastrzemski, ending the All-Star Game with a 1-0 victory over the American League. The game was something of a double-play that year, and not in a good way: the first All-Star Game played on artificial turf and indoors, in the mausoleum known as Houston’s Astrodome. It was also the first such game played at night in nearly a quarter-century — when a couple of early All-Star Games were played before sparse crowds and raised money for the war effort.

The games were thrilling in the ’60s and ’70s, before free agency and big money, when the players thought of themselves as NL or AL guys and badly wanted to beat the other league. These were not showcases, they were games. Just ask Ray Fosse.

Alas, the Midsummer Classic has been anything but a classic for decades, even before Bud Selig turned it into utter farce: We’ve gone from 1967, when Hall of Famer Tony Perez’s home run off Hall-of-Famer Catfish Hunter (then in his fifth inning of work) finally decided the nailbiter in the 15th inning, to 2002, when the “Classic” had to be halted as a 7-7 tie — yes, a tie! — because the teams ran out of players. See, jet-setting stars are now limited to cameo appearances. They are already antsy by the end of the Home Run Derby — the Monday night batting-practice exhibition that long ago eclipsed the Tuesday night game. By the fifth inning, many of the starters are already showered and off to the airport.

Which is to say: It has been years since I’ve watched the All-Star Game, the can’t-miss event of my youth. When I learned that the woke Left had gotten the woke commissioner to accede to the woke White House’s instruction that the game be moved out of Atlanta — part of the campaign to slander Georgia’s voting law as racist — it was the first time I’d even heard that the game was scheduled to be in Atlanta. They could play it on Mars for all I care, or, better yet, not play it at all.

There is just one thing. I am part of the dying breed that MLB needs: the aging fanatic who loves the game and spends money on it. So, what have they done? They’ve taken a no-compete spectacle I’d long since stopped caring about, and, by politicizing my respite from politics, they have made me not only care about it but get bats**t over it.

I’m too addicted to the love affair I’ve had with baseball for 55 years to say I won’t watch it anymore. But I will watch considerably less . . . and I will not spend a thin dime on it.

I’ll just say two more things.

The first involves killing off the goose that lays the golden eggs. To repeat what I wrote last summer, in the context of the woke NBA boycotts that the woke athletes of other pro sports were itching to emulate (just as MLB has followed the NBA into harlotry with that bastion of voting rights, Communist China):

It does not dawn on today’s athletes … that their saleable value lies in giving the rest of us a unifying escape from our personal struggles and social divisions. For two or three hours, we can marvel at how the well-executed pick-and-roll is nearly impossible to defend. The conservative and the liberal, the black and white fan, all of us can relate to wishing we could be the slugger who carries a team, wishing we could feel, even for a moment, what it’s like to have such talent.

The players don’t realize that the value they can singularly provide, the value that the consumer craves, is the oasis from turmoil. The oasis is disappearing. The players first invited the turmoil in, and now they are stoking it.

The Left ruins everything.

The second involves why the Left is able to ruin everything. Rather than preserve the good will of their patriotic fan bases, spaghetti-spined Rob Manfred and Roger Goodell types try to appease the Left. They don’t seem to get that this is about power, not social justice, and thus that the appetite is never sated but grows by what it feeds on.

The scheme always starts with a sweet-sounding premise that is totally asinine but that everyone agrees to pretend is a self-evident truth. In this instance, that truth is that we should encourage every eligible voter, no matter how ill-informed and apathetic, to vote — to the point, now, of trying to force them to register and cast a ballot whether they want to or not.

It’s ridiculous. It would be far better if the franchise were not exercised by ignorant, civics-illiterate people, hypnotized by the flimflam that a great nation needs to be fundamentally transformed rather than competently governed. Left to their own devices, many such people would not even take note of elections, much less go through the effort to register and vote. Since their participation is not helpful, and since the effort required for participation is already minimal, we should not be doing more to encourage their participation.

The avant garde wants you to believe it cares about these people and “fights” for their voting rights in order to vindicate their interests. But the avant garde, the leaders of the Democratic Party, are in it for themselves. Sure, they love “humanity,” but they don’t actually have much use for people. They want power. They realize the route to power in a democracy is to maximize the number of votes counted, so they press to expand the number of registered voters and available ballots, then figure out ways — many regrettably legal, some not — to harvest them . . . whereupon they can acquire and retain power, pay off their interest groups, and enact policies that gut the prospects for prosperity of the very people for whom they pretend to fight.

It’s a game, but it works because the rest of us have somehow agreed that everyone should vote — because, you know, “racism.” If logic were permitted to interfere in propaganda, this would be deeply insulting, particularly to black people, since the Left’s basic argument is that they are too backward to comply with simple voting requirements, such as registering within liberal time limits and presenting identification (which everyone needs to do to perform the most basic tasks of modern life). But we’ve been conditioned to believe such common sense may not be uttered, lest the media-Democrat complex portray us as the reincarnation of Jim Crow. So the Left wins the next round, and the next . . .

Basta! Voting is a privilege. There are totalitarian societies in which people would crawl over broken glass to do what, in our sloth, we’ve somehow decided is too burdensome to do if you have to show a driver’s license.

There has to be some allowance for absentee voting, as there always has been, because there are legitimate employment and health demands that prevent people from showing up at the polls. And we should make it physically easier to vote — more polling places, and maybe make Election Day a two-or-three-day affair. But it should be presumptively mandatory for people — if they choose to vote, which they are under no obligation to do — to show up in person at the assigned location and prove they are who they say they are in order to vote. States should be encouraged to require that. If voting is as crucial as the Left says it is, people should be proud to exert the close-to-zero effort that is called for. Indeed, doing so is a source of pride for those who care about the country.

Automatic registration, no-excuse absentee ballots, drop boxes, and no-ID provisions have nothing to do with race. They have everything to do with Democrats creating more opportunities to cheat. When Democrats tell you 2021 is no different from 1950, and that an ID requirement is just like a literacy test, they are saying they think you’re an idiot. Don’t be an idiot.

You can continue to pretend that the voting-rights con job is about “justice” and “equity,” not power. You can continue to spout nonsense about “participatory democracy” and making every voice be heard — it’s mindless, but it sure looks great on a bumper sticker. Know this, though: If you concede the Left’s false premises, all that remains is to negotiate the terms and timing of your ultimate surrender. And your every concession just emboldens the Left to extort the next concession.

The next thing you know, the only place for a Midsummer “Classic” is the Upper West Side — assuming New York can liberalize its voting laws so they come up to Georgia’s standards.

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