On Wednesday, six MLB teams decided to sit out their games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and racial injustice. Twenty-two teams still played, including the Rockies and Diamondbacks. Matt Kemp was the only player in the matchup to take himself out of the lineup in solidarity with the protests. On Thursday, the Rockies and Diamondbacks joined a group of 12 other teams who all decided to not play their games, joining similar stances in the NBA, NHL, MLS, and WNBA.
After reflecting and meeting as a group, Rockies players have decided not to play today’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, standing in solidarity with athletes and sports teams against social injustice.— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 27, 2020
Trevor Story spoke with reporters in a video call, explaining why the Rockies decided to call the game on Thursday.
“After thinking about it, I do wish that we may not have played last night. We had a chance to stand up for our guy [Kemp] last night. We didn’t do that.”
The Denver Post’s Kyle Fredrickson reports that Bud Black said that the Rockies were able to meet as a team on Thursday, talk about recent events and the stances other MLB teams and other sports leagues were taking, and collectively decided not to play Thursday’s game. He also said the team didn’t have that chance to meet as a group and talk on Wednesday. On Thursday, the conversations got emotional with Story saying, “Our team meeting was incredible. A lot of emotions. It’s tough to talk about.”
Black and the players declined on sharing specifics.
Kemp is a member of The Players Alliance, an organization started earlier this year and made up of “more than 100 black current and former professional baseball players, united to use our collective voice and platform to create increased opportunities for the black community in every aspect of our game and beyond,” according to The Players Alliance website.
Ian Desmond is the only other current Rockie who is also a member of The Players Alliance, but other members include former Rockies Eric Young Jr. and Dexter Fowler, who is on the Active Player Advisory Board for the organization.
Kemp said he had a “really good conversation with Trevor. He poured his heart out to me. A lot of the guys poured their heart out to me, and pretty much told me they stood behind me.”
The Players Alliance announced on Instagram that more than 100 current and former players will donate their salaries from Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 to social justice causes as a way of showing action to support the protests.
Today, Aug. 28, is the day when the MLB is celebrating Jackie Robinson Day, which is normally held on April 15, but the baseball world was shut down during that time this year. Aug. 28 also happens to be the day of the legendary three-hour meeting in 1945 when Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey “fire-hosed a torrent of racial slurs” at Robinson to preview the treatment the color-barrier breaker would receive.
Rickey made it clear that Robinson had to just take the harassment and not be provoked into reacting. Robinson did so admirably despite abhorrently racist treatment, responding with quotes like “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me … all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” (Aug. 28 also happens to be the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.)
The Marlins and Mets previewed the kind of moments that the baseball world might see on Friday when the players took the field for a 42-second moment of silence, honoring Robinson’s league-wide retired number, and placed a Black Lives Matter shirt on home plate.
After a moment of silence, the Mets and the Marlins have left the field.— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
The only thing remaining on the field is a Black Lives Matter shirt. pic.twitter.com/t7QfWwofOS
The Rockies are set to host the Padres in a four-game series starting Friday night and a makeup date for Thursday’s postponement has yet to be announced. Black said he was proud of his players and the discussions the team had Thursday. Kemp hopes that this can be a start to making positive change.
“It brings awareness to what’s going on in the world right now,” Kemp said. “There’s just more to life than baseball. This is something that we’ve been doing for a very long time and something that we love to do. But I think everybody just came to an agreement today that this is just not one of the times where they felt right playing the game … There are families losing other family members over senseless acts. It’s just something that we need to unite in and try to bring awareness to this situation. Because our voices aren’t really being heard.”
The answer to the headline isn’t so clear, but in light of Thursday’s postponement, it mostly sounds like the day’s events moved very quickly and the Rockies didn’t have a chance to talk as a team on Wednesday. Mookie Betts told the Dodgers he would not be playing, and they unanimously decided to sit out with him. Kemp told the Rockies he would not be playing, and after some team discussion, the Rockies decided to go ahead with their game.
On Thursday, things changed the Rockies decided it wasn’t too late to join the protests and support Kemp. Wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt on Thursday, Kyle Freeland said that the team frequently talks about issues of “race, racism, and police brutality”: “It’s an issue that we talk about almost every single day — about what’s going on in our country, with social injustice and the pure madness that’s really going on in our world right now.”
On Wednesday, the Colorado front office and players announced their full support of Kemp, including manager Bud Black who said Kemp talked to him before the game.
“What he told me was emotional,” Black said. “I’m not going to talk about what we said. But it was heartfelt. And you know, I have empathy.”
As with most teams in their games on Wednesday and Thursday, the decision was made by the players. The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan and Nick Groke reported that Kemp spoke with his teammates, but explained, “The Rockies would not say how a decision came to be, whether a vote was taken or a conclusion was reached by committee. But without Kemp, they chose to play.”
Not many players spoke to the media after Wednesday’s game, but Charlie Blackmon did.
“Matt was hurting today. Today was tough for him. And Matt did what he felt like he needed to do. And it’s important for me to understand that and know where he is coming from. I’ll never know exactly where he’s coming from, but I’ll try my best,” Blackmon said. “We were very sensitive to what was happening. And ultimately, I think we decided the most unifying thing was to come out and play this game that everybody loves to play … If you can’t at least try and understand what your fellow man is going through, if you can’t put yourself in their shoes, or at least think about what’s going on with them, you might be part of the problem.”
Just when you thought we might be done with Nolan trade talk, you were wrong. Apparently, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers thinks this would be good for the Yankees. Of course it would. What team wouldn’t want Arenado? Do we really have to go through this again?
Rogers said, “The Rockies are fading, which means Arenado is not happy.” It makes you wonder if Rogers looked at Arenado’s stats to start the season and could possibly make any correlation to why the Rockies “are fading,” if that is in fact what they are doing. As Noah Yingling points out, the Rockies have won three in a row and are currently in position to make the postseason in the 2020 expanded field. That might not be saying much, but it’s also a stretch to think it means the Rockies are looking to blow up the team, trade Nolan, and start over. It is, as Yingling says, “extremely unlikely.”
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