While Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron spent his Thursday evening doing everything but charging Breonna Taylor’s killers with murder, the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals made it their mission to draw attention to injustices such as hers—I think.
USA Today reports that with no fans in the stands, as baseball takes necessary precautions in order to protect its players and team personnel from exposure to COVID-19, the two teams took a knee prior to Thursday night’s game as part of their MLB opening day ceremony.
From USA Today:
In a coordinated gesture between the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals and New York Yankees before the first major league game played this year Thursday night, players clutched a black cloth that winded from the Nationals’ first base line around to the Yankees on the third-base line.
Then, before a pre-recorded rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, every player and coach out for pregame introductions took a knee on the grass, for about 20 seconds.
Considering this type of thing would’ve never happened just a season ago, it’s wild to think that this is the new normal—at least for now.
But before you burst out in applause and commend MLB for giving a fuck about Black lives, it’s important to note that while both teams did take a knee, it wasn’t during the national anthem. It was prior to it even being played.
This is an important distinction, because what’s not being widely reported is that they all stood up during the national anthem.
So what’s the difference? That depends on who you ask.
To Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who’s Black, he believes that their message was loud and clear.
“To have everyone kneel at the same time, it was to give hope to any overall reason you want to do it,” he said after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory. “For me, it’s for the racial injustice and Black lives in general. And a lot of other things going on. We all have individual reasons to do so. I believe with everything we did beforehand, wearing the Black Lives Matter T-shirts, the patches and the unity ceremony before, that’s what was decided.”
To Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, who’s white, it was a moment of solidarity with other athletes.
“It was emotional. I thought it was powerful,” he said. “It was important for us and for the Yankees that everybody bought in. Holding the ribbon and kneeling. To show support for athletes that have done it in other sports, and so far in baseball. To show support for the movement about Black Lives Matter and ending police brutality and racism and injustice.”
To Trump’s sock poppet Rudy Giuliani and an overwhelming majority of the MAGA sect, it was anti-American.
“All those ball players, including the Yankees, taking a knee during the National Anthem of the country that made them millionaires is hypocritical,” he tweeted. “Support for BLM, which is provoking attacks on our law enforcement and innocent people all over America, is disgraceful.”
And to a sizeable amount of actual baseball fans, it reeked of performative bullshit.
If I tell a joke and you don’t laugh, that doesn’t negate my intent. It just means that I failed somewhere in my execution. On a similar note, it’s abundantly clear that the Yankees and Nationals failed in whatever the hell they were trying to do Thursday night, because not only are we all confused about their execution, but the intention behind it as well.
Would every player and coach who took a knee last night provide the same answer that Stanton and Doolittle did? Would they all have even similar reasons? Probably not. So why do it in the first place? That’s textbook performative activism.
So instead of continuing to entertain a bunch of grown-ass men who are pretending to be proponents of progress, I’ll go back to doing what I do best—ignoring major league baseball.
Because this is some bullshit.
Y’all are literally playing with Black people’s lives.