On Thursday night, when the Miami Marlins and New York Mets expressed their intention to play, despite plenty of other MLB teams opting to strike in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, it raised eyebrows.
Then shortly after taking the field, this happened:
If you would’ve told me at least four of five months ago that this would ever occur in a Major League Baseball game, I would’ve keeled over laughing in disbelief. However, it’s clearly a new day, and America is slowly coming to terms with its extensive history of systemic oppression and racialized violence.
Let’s just hope this country keeps that same energy at the polls in November.
From Yahoo Sports:
After rumblings of a potential player protest, the Mets took their places on the field as scheduled. However, starting pitcher Michael Wacha did not throw a warm-up pitch, and the teams did not exchange lineup cards.
Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson stepped into the box and both teams seemed in position to start playing, but only 42 seconds of silence, likely in honor of Jackie Robinson, followed. Both teams then exited the field, with Brinson leaving a “Black Lives Matter” shirt at home plate.
Prior to the game, Mets slugger Dominic Smith tearfully bemoaned the mistreatment of Black men in America. This presumably inspired the rest of his team to protest on Thursday.
“I think the most difficult part is to see people still don’t care,” he said on Wednesday. “For this to just continuously happen, it just shows the hate in people’s heart. That just sucks, you know? Black men in America, it’s not easy.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, arguably the worst in professional sports, also drew criticism from Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen for his lack of empathy in handling these protests. The conversation was caught on a hot mic Thursday that CNBC reports was being livestreamed:
“That’s Rob’s instinct,” Van Wagenen said in a conversation he didn’t appear to know was being streamed on MLB.com. “At a leadership level, he doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it.”
Van Wagenen said in the video — after specifying the conversation “can’t leave this room” — that Manfred wanted the Mets and Marlins to walk off the field together shortly before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. first pitch, then come back and play at 8:10 p.m.
However, later Thursday night, Van Wagenen reversed course and pinned the blame on Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
“Jeff Wilpon called Commissioner Manfred this afternoon to notify him that our players voted not to play,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “They discussed the challenges of rescheduling the game. Jeff proposed an idea of playing the game an hour late. I misunderstood that this was the Commissioner’s idea. In actuality, this was Jeff’s suggestion.
“The players had already made their decision so I felt the suggestion was not helpful. My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgment in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon.”
On Friday, Major League Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. To commemorate his legacy, more than 100 current and former Black MLB players will donate part of their salaries to combat racial inequality and empower Black communities.
MLB is expected to resume play on Friday as well.