Anytime sports and politics mix, things get a little sticky. We want sports to be pure and offer a sanctimonious escape in the form of entertainment. We also want sports to use its national platform to encourage positive change in our country and countries beyond our borders. Both are achievable, presumably, but we can rarely have it both ways.

Asking Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, to single-handedly change the new immigration law in Arizona is asking too much.

Senate Bill 1070 likely won’t be in effect until August at the earliest, but Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, who signed America’s toughest immigration law to date, has felt instant backlash.

The bill makes it a crime to be in Arizona illegally, but the public ire stems from the process, or lack thereof, that authorities are instructed to take to determine who is legal and illegal.

Basically if you look illegal, then prepare to be asked to show documentation proving you are in the U.S. legally.

Opponents of the new law have already raised concerns regarding racial profiling. Multiple lawsuits have been filed, declaring the bill unconstitutional. More will follow.

At best, the new law is incredibly offensive. I’m assuming that police aren’t going to stop two white Europeans and ask them for paperwork. At worst, well, that’s a political bag of worms.

Almost 30 percent of Arizona’s residents are Hispanic, and it is clear that Gov. Brewer is one of many who want to make sure people aren’t fleeing Mexico and coming into the state while bypassing the traditional immigration process.

That is where the fire alarm goes off in baseball. More than a quarter of the players on MLB rosters are Latin. Many of them travel through Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks every year. More convene in Arizona every February and March for spring training.

How will this new law affect baseball players and what can Selig do about it? That’s the big question.

William C. Rhoden wrote a column in Monday’s edition of The New York Times calling this an opportunity for Selig to “send a message” and write his own legacy.

Rhoden writes: “Selig can remind his fans, those who support the Arizona legislation and those who oppose it, that close to 30 percent of major league players were born elsewhere. That these international players help provide the strength of the game. That it is unthinkable that they should feel in any way unwelcome. This is the message Selig should convey. With his legacy on the line, it’s the swing he eventually has to take.”

I’m not taking a side on the law. It’s political, it’s laced with personal agendas, and that’s certainly not the place for me to comment and not the place for sports to overstep its boundaries. Politics are politics, sports are sports, and that’s how I generally prefer to keep them.

But I do agree with the premise of Rhoden’s column. It’s preposterous to think of a situation where Felix Hernandez can be stopped while walking to lunch and asked if he belongs in this country.

Or even worse, an unknown kid playing minor league ball. Things may be fine for the superstars and millionaires, but the 18-year-olds trying to learn a new language and adjust to a new lifestyle face different problems.

But what is there for Selig to do other than publicly express a desire to see the bill escorted to the nearest paper shredder? Bud Selig isn’t a politician. It’s not his job to fight the feds, nor should we want him to.

Selig’s job, as the commissioner of baseball, is to help protect his players. When a player signs with an organization, he has a legitimate reason to be in this country. That doesn’t take away the reality that he may be forced to carry proof in his pocket.

I’m afraid Selig’s only potential response to that is, “Sorry, fellas, it’s the world we live in.”

What else can he say? What else can he do?

Some people want Selig to move the 2011 All Star Game, which is currently scheduled for Phoenix. I’m not in favor of that, because what does it solve? Nothing, really. It only hurts the baseball fans in Arizona and the Diamondbacks. Moving the All Star Game would take millions of dollars away from the Arizona organization and the opportunity to showcase Chase Field to the masses.

It’s not the Diamonbacks’ fault they happen to play in Arizona. What do you want them to do, relocate? That’s silly.

Selig doesn’t have the authority to change the immigration law. That’s for President Obama if he wants. What Selig should be concerned with is ensuring the quality of life for Latin players in Arizona.

It will be interesting to see how this law, if it stays as currently constructed, will affect the Diamondbacks in the future in terms of signing international players and foreign-born free agents. Will Latin kids want to sign as 16-year-olds knowing their team plays in a state with this type of law in place? Will free agents require a little extra coin—call it the Arizona Tax—in order to agree to a deal with Arizona? They are legitimate questions. Questions that directly impact the baseball issue at hand.

The MLB Players Association has spoken out against the law. Selig surely has thoughts and maybe we will hear from him in the near future. As much as some may want him to force change, he is, after all, only a baseball commissioner. Taking drastic measures, like boycotting anything Arizona-related, can do more harm to the sport than good.

Selig can raise verbal hell. He can call out against the law. But after that, the only thing he can do to send a real message is pull the players off the field, and I don’t think we want to go there with this.

Sometimes it’s just the world we live in, fellas, and it’s not always fair.

Follow Teddy Mitrosilis on Twitter . You can reach him at

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