Tuesday saw a flood of Major League Baseball teams releasing statements in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody and the widespread demonstrations against racial inequality it has sparked.
Some were longer than others. Some were more detailed than others. And some actually pledged to resources toward a solution. Here are all of the ways MLB teams have used their platforms to publicly respond (or not) to the reckoning that has dominated American life in the last week.
Teams that just denounced racism
These teams are willing to take a stand against the evil that is pervasive in American society: racism. How does the statement say they will they stand up to it? Unclear. Why they are standing up to it now? Also unclear. Didn’t the organizations already have this outlook? You would hope so.
All told, 14 teams released statements with no mention of Floyd’s name, the word “police” or any specific action taken, with several being only a single paragraph long. Obviously, not all of them are the same. One team attributes its denouncing of racism to being in a diverse city. Another proudly mentions it once employed Jackie Robinson. And, of course, one just had to make sure you knew it won the 2019 World Series.
Quite a few vaguely allude to working on community outreach, supporting change and whatever else it takes to end racism. They don’t get more specific than that, though.
The New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals also stopped here at the most basic acknowledgment of the crisis.
Teams that mentioned George Floyd by name
Only 12 teams — about a third of the league — actually ended up mentioning the man whose death in police custody sparked a wave of protests and debate over police brutality.
That includes the teams representing the city in which Floyd was killed, the Minnesota Twins, and his hometown team, the Houston Astros.
With the rest, you begin to see some stronger messages about fighting systemic racism, a natural result of actually naming the reason why the statement was necessary.
Teams that mentioned the police
Only three teams included the word “police.” Not shocking given the historically fraught politics of mentioning the role of police in systemic oppression and racism in America. Here, there are only statements from the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy, as the Tampa Bay Rays went further and will appear later.
Teams that said Black Lives Matter
Just like mentioning the police, only two teams out of 30 mentioned the words that have become a telling flashpoint after a decade of protests and violence. Unlike other teams, the Baltimore Orioles released their statement via a tweet thread, which included a James Baldwin quote and strong talk of “brutalizing misconduct.”
The Rays also used the phrase. More on them later.
The team that only used a quote
Rather than release any sort of statement, the New York Yankees opted to post a Nelson Mandela quote, a picture of the former South African president in Yankees garb and his Monument Park plaque.
The final team to speak
As of Wednesday afternoon, only team had not released any sort of statement denouncing racism, Floyd’s death or systemic oppression: the Cincinnati Reds.
That has now changed. The team also released a statement from top prospect Hunter Greene, who called for inclusion for all races.
The Texas Rangers were the only other to not release a statement before Wednesday. But we’ve now officially heard from all 30 teams and the league itself.
Teams that announced they’re actually doing something
Unlike all of these other teams, the Oakland Athletics and the Rays actually announced steps they are taking for social justice. The A’s announced they will be donating $100,000 to the Oakland African Chamber of Commerce, Oakland NAACP and 100 Black Men of the Bay Area.
The Pirates and Indians could also fit in here, as they at least mentioned they’ve reached out to community leaders and investing resources for positive change.
As for the Rays, well, they deserve special recognition.
The team that did everything
Pledging to fight institutionalized racism. Acknowledging Floyd’s death. Acknowledging police brutality. Acknowledging Black Lives Matter. Announcing $100,000 in annual support in the fight against racism. Only one team went above and beyond in their statement, and it was the Rays.
It’s not often you see an MLB team take a stance this strong.
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