Texas Rangers executive Jon Daniels has hit out at US president Joe Biden after he was critical of the MLB team for hosting fans in their stadium this season amid accusations that the move could lead to spate of Covid cases.
The Rangers announced that there won’t be any caps on the numbers of supporters into the team’s Globe Life Field this season, though they did mandate that fans must wear face-coverings in the stands.
But President Biden clearly has concerns that packing people into the 40,000-capacity arena could lead to a severe uptick in coronavirus cases.
“I think it’s a mistake,” Biden told ESPN Wednesday. “They should listen to Dr. Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But, I think it’s not responsible.”
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The team – who open their home campaign Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays – remain the only franchise in Major League Baseball to not currently have limits on the numbers of fans who are permitted to enter the stadium, with other teams operating at 50% capacity.
Two teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals, are limiting attendance to just 12% of their usual allowance.
However, the Rangers hierarchy insist that all reasonable safety checks have been observed – with Daniels clapping back against Biden’s grandstanding by saying that the plan to have a full compliment of fans in the stadium is a “one-time event” for the team – at least while Covid-19 remains a significant issue.
“I think after Opening Day, reality is we’re not going to be at full capacity, I doubt it,” said Daniels, addressing Biden’s criticism Thursday, via TMZ.
“I’m hopeful that people are responsible and wear masks and we can enjoy a good time out. But after [Opening Day], I don’t see it being a regular occurrence.
“I do see it’s kind of a complex issue and I do see why the President would say what he said.”
“This is why we can’t have nice things,” said one baseball fan in reaction to the Texas Rangers’ decision to hold a full capacity event. “We are at the verge of having a handle on this…. but no people can’t just hang on a bit longer.
Another described Biden’s opposition to the move as a “no-brainer“, but a third wasn’t quite so supportive – and referenced a frequent jibe from former President Donald Trump about Biden’s supposed inability to draw a large crowd to his presidential campaign rallies.
“Everybody knows Biden and full capacity don’t go together,” they wrote.
Biden, meanwhile, also waded in to what is becoming an increasingly divisive subject regarding the ongoing vaccination program, with the 46th US president stating that everyone involved in the league – players, coaches and team personnel included – should submit to vaccination at the earliest possible opportunity despite a developing narrative amongst some who have concerns about the vaccine’s long-term efficacy.
“I would say I’m President of the United States and I got vaccinated,” Biden announced. “I don’t have an unimportant job. Would I take the vaccine if I thought it was going to hurt me?”
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Sticking to the baseball subject, Biden also threw his presidential weight behind a proposal to remove the annual All-Star game from its traditional home in Georgia amid a row about a new voting bill being suggested in the state.
State leadership has looked to impose new restrictions on voting, with some pointing out that this would unfairly impact various minorities’ right to vote freely and fairly.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states,” Biden stated. “What’s it all about? Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote. Can’t do that? Come on.
“Or you’re going to close the polling place at 5 o’clock when people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”