The San Francisco Giants received a mixed bag of emotions when several players took a knee before the final exhibition games of the MLB 2020 launch, which started last night with the Yankees defeating the World Champion Washington Nationals 4-1 in a rain-shortened game.
I spoke about this on my weekly “Foul or Fair” segment on Rob Parker’s Inside The Parker podcast on The Herd Podcast Network.
Last night, in a display of solidarity that even surprised Jemele Hill, the entire Nationals and Yankees teams took a knee before the national anthem in a Nationals Park that sits just 3.3 miles from Donald Trump’s White House, where Black Lives Matter Plaza hovers across the street.
The White House and The Plaza represent a divide in this country that has been largely fed by the President’s questionable approach to matters of race, police brutality, confederate flags, protests, the #BLM way of life (as LeBron recently renamed it) and peaceful expression throughout sports against social injustice.
Wow. This is something. https://t.co/ITfsVu5ZV5
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 23, 2020
MLB has long been criticized for ostracizing the Black community, which was once a prominent fixture in the exploding growth of America’s past time. Former MLB outfielder Adam Jones, who now plays for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, once said that baseball is a “white man’s sport.” That statement probably had Jackie Robinson chocking on his Ball Park Hot Dog in heaven, but it expressed how people truly feel about the sport these days.
Even if the sport is considered a “whites only” operation now to a certain extent, baseball’s rich history of African-American participation and excellence can’t be ignored. African-Americans are as much to blame for the lasting success of the sport as any other race.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem back in 2016 at the suggestion of a former military veteran, it ignited severe conservative backlash and also a spirit of social consciousness throughout the sports world.
MLB stayed out of any political, social or racial conflict. Former Oakland catcher Bruce Maxwell was the only MLB player to take a knee.
Now, we are seeing that the movement and the moment is undeniable even to the most conservative of sports and businesses. We are witnessing MLB step up and put two feet down in the batter’s box when it comes to supporting the fact that Black Lives Matter. And acknowledging that the only way we are going to fix social injustice, racial inequality and systemic racism is to do it together. The division in this country is rotting it and those who understand that racism and exclusion aren’t cool regardless of color will submit to the understanding that together we can all make a change for the better in this country.
It doesn’t have to be my side versus your side. This isn’t a rap battle sponsored by Apple. It’s MLB, one of the largest and most influential and affluent entities in the world, using these unusual circumstances — a COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest, political mudslinging and mismanagement, and a ravaged economy — to step up and acknowledge that it will take a joint effort to help society flourish. To end systemic racism, social injustice and the like. The baseball community is speaking loud and clear. It’s about unity. Supporting what’s right. Standing by your fellow man, elevating together.