Three MLB games were postponed last night as players responded to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, WI, by sitting out games to raise awareness of the racial and societal issues raised by the police action.
The movement began with Milwaukee Brewers players voting unanimously to not play last night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds in response to the larger societal unrest. Reds players then joined the Brewers, causing the game to be canceled, and the two teams issued the following statement:
“The players from the Brewers and Reds have decided to not play tonight’s baseball game. With our community and our nation in such pain, we wanted to draw as much attention to the issues that really matter, especially racial injustice and systemic oppression.”
The Brewers also issued a separate statement:
“The Milwaukee Brewers organization joins the players in their decision to not play tonight’s game. We need to pause and reflect on the events that are causing such pain and hardship to our local community and country. The entire organization is committed to putting the spotlight on racial injustice, inequality, and the necessity for change.”
Ryan Braun spoke of the need to set out the game, even with the possibility that the Reds would not, and the game resulting in a forfeit. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“Obviously, we saw what the Bucks decided to do and I think, frankly, that inspired us,” said Ryan Braun, the senior member of the team who opened that meeting with his thoughts. “I think it motivated us. I think from the beginning of this season we’ve worn T-shirts that say ‘Justice. Equality. Now.’ We’ve made statements.
“But at some point, actions speak louder than words and we felt like today provided a unique opportunity and a moment for us to use our platform to actually put these words and these statements into action. I’d say at least seven or eight different guys spoke passionately about how they felt about the situation and unanimously as a group we all decided that we felt like the greatest impact we could have was by not playing a baseball game tonight, so that everybody could take the time to try to continue to educate themselves on what’s going on in our country and hopefully we continue to try to have these difficult conversations and eventually elicit change.”
Two other games were postponed: Seattle at San Diego and Los Angeles at San Francisco. The decision by Dodgers players was led by Mookie Betts, with teammates joining in his decision to sit out the games.
“For me, I think no matter what, I wasn’t going to play tonight,” Betts told ESPN. “I have to use my platform to at least get the ball rolling,” he said.
“More than anything as a teammate of Mookie’s, as a member of this team … as a white player on this team is how do we show support? What’s something tangible that we can do to help our Black brothers on this team?” added Clayton Kershaw.
Those postponements were supported by the teams; the Dodgers and the Giants issued the following statement:
“Throughout our country’s history, sport has been a powerful vehicle towards change. The Dodgers and Giants proudly join our players in the shared goal for a more equitable and just society.”
Players also individually sat out games last night; Matt Kemp of the Rockies, for instance, passed on play.
Supporting the decisions: MLB and MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark.
“At this critical time, players have been deeply affected by the recent events in Wisconsin and by similar events in other parts of the country,” Clark tweeted. “We are proud of the stand that our players have taken, and we remain committed to supporting their efforts to effect change in MLB communities and beyond.”
MLB issued the following statement: “Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight. Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”
The games will be made up today as MLB adds doubleheaders to the schedule. However, don’t be surprised if there are more players speaking up and taking action.