Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler and Rockies designated hitter Matt Kemp each elected to sit out in solidarity with their fellow athletes from MLB and the NBA. Fowler was joined by teammate Jack Flaherty, who was not scheduled to pitch Wednesday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.
Jason Heyward encouraged teammates to play on
Following the Cubs game in Detroit, Heyward acknowledged that his teammates were willing to sit out with him. However, he felt it was important for them to play on.
#Cubs OF Jason Heyward on his decision not to play tonight:
"Tonight, I needed to be a part of what’s going on in my community." Said teammates discussed not playing, but he encouraged them to play." Added he got full support of team, said Mookie Betts reached out
— Matthew Aung (@MatthewS_Aung) August 27, 2020
This may or may not quiet concerns that at a time while other teams and other leagues were banding together, the Cubs were in some way distancing themselves from Heyward. Based on his own words, they allowed it to be a personal choice. That seemed to have real meaning to him.
Dodgers support Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers took a different approach. Once it became clear that Betts wasn’t going to play, Clayton Kershaw says the team went all in to have his back.
Clayton Kershaw said that once Mookie Betts decides not to play today, the rest of the Dodgers joined him. Kershaw added that if Betts wants to play tomorrow, the Dodgers will play.
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) August 27, 2020
The Giants had Mookie’s back, too. They released a joint statement with their longtime rivals supporting the decision to postpone Wednesday’s game.
Dominic Smith kneels during anthem, gets emotional
The events of the past three days have taken an emotional toll on many Black athletes. That includes New York Mets outfielder Dominic Smith. As he took the field on with his teammates Wednesday night, Smith wore his feelings and his emotions on his sleeve.
Prior to the game, Smith took a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest racial and social injustice. After the game, tears flowed as he attempted to put everything he’s feeling into words.
"I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care"
- An emotional Dom Smith describes the most of difficult part of the last few months for him pic.twitter.com/DLyptwKPUp
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
The overriding message from Wednesday’s protests is that there are more important things to focus on than sports. Do they provide us an escape? Yes. Is that escape necessary sometimes? Absolutely. But this isn’t one of those times.
Now is the time to pay attention. Now is the time to listen. To be better. To come together. That’s the message. And it’s clear that message resonates differently in every MLB clubhouse, just as it resonates differently in each corner of society.
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