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MLB Players Kneel Against Police Brutality

Unconcerned with backlash, players being mindful of our nation's many faults

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 22, 2020

The baseball season finally kicks off on Thursday, but over the past week teams have been holding exhibition games to get ready for the season. Like other sports, baseball is preparing for protests for Black Lives and against systemic racism during the game. The protests kicked off during the first exhibition games.

In San Francisco, about a dozen players and coaches took a knee during the national anthem on Monday. They were then joined on Tuesday by Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and Mauricio Dubón. Giants that kneeled included Manager Gabe Kapler, first base coach Antoan Richardson, assistant hitting coach Justin Viele and outfielders Jaylin Davis, Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski.

In Cincinnati, Joey Votto and three teammates kneeled, while other players stood beside them with their hand on the players shoulders in a clear sign of solidarity. Votto has been seen wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt during training camp. In Los Angeles, Keynan Middleton also knelt during the anthem and raised his right fist, possibly in a salute to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who raised a fist in salute during the 1968 Olympic medal ceremony.

Kneeling during the national anthem became a popular symbol of protest after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick began kneeling to protest systemic racism in the United States. Other leagues have not only anticipated protests but also encouraged them. The NBA has painted Black Lives Matter on their courts and the players association is currently negotiating with the NFL on allowing players to wear a Black Lives Matter emblem on their helmets. The MLB is considering a similar action allowing players to wear a Black Lives Matter or United for Change patch on their uniforms.

After the Giants players took a knee, the official Twitter account of Major League Baseball tweeted out a video of the protest. They then responded to comments about the protest saying “Supporting human rights is not political” and “It has never been about the military or the flag. The players and coaches are using their platforms to peacefully protest.”

The support from managers and from the league is much different than just a few years ago when Kapernick began kneeling. Instead of getting support from the league, Kapernick was run out of town. There was even an allegation that owners colluded to keep him out of the league. This seemed to be proven when the NFL reached a settlement with the quarterback.

More protests are expected on Opening Day with new teams talking about what they will do to raise awareness about systemic racism and Black Lives Matter. New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said the team was discussing what to do on Wednesday.

“I’m supportive of that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “This country allows you to express yourself in many different ways, and that’s one of the beauties of it. “So I respect how anyone wants to demonstrate, whether it’s in protest or whether it’s in solidarity. Whatever the reasons may be, I have no issue with that and support that, and if that comes our way as a club, I’ll stand behind whoever has a strong feeling about it one way or the other.”

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