Former Red Sox star Mookie Betts told his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates he would sit out Wednesday’s game vs. the Giants, and they backed him.
“For me, I think no matter what, I wasn’t going to play tonight,” Betts said. “I have to use my platform to at least get the ball rolling,” he said.
Once Betts made his decision, the Dodgers stood by him, ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.
“More than anything as a teammate of Mookie’s, as a member of this team ... as a white player on this team is how do we show support? What’s something tangible that we can do to help our Black brothers on this team?” Kershaw said.
"Once Mookie said he wasn't going to play, that really started our conversation as a team on what we could do to support that." @mookiebetts, Dave Roberts, @ClaytonKersh22 & @kenleyjansen74 share their thoughts on the #Dodgers decision not to play tonight. pic.twitter.com/WUQoorsdXR— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 27, 2020
A sprinkling of players from the Dodgers and Giants were loosening up and the grounds crew was prepping the field at Oracle Park when the game was postponed.
“My cousin got shot and killed. My father was one of the first Black men in his high school,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, son of a Black father and Japanese mother. “It was just more of getting everyone together and sharing our thoughts. ... Collectively, ultimately we came to the consensus that we shouldn’t play today.”
Games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco were called off hours before they were set to begin. They followed the lead of the NBA, where the Milwaukee Bucks started a movement that rippled across the American sports landscape by deciding to not play their afternoon game against the Magic to refocus attention on the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin by police.
Matt Kemp, who is Black, announced on social media he would skip Colorado’s game in Arizona “in protest of the injustices my people continue to suffer.”
“I could not play this game I love so much tonight knowing the hurt and anguish my people continue to feel,” he wrote. “In a world where we are the ones who need to remain calm while a trained professional points a gun in our face; a world where the people in uniforms who took an oath to protect us are the same ones killing us; a world where we become hashtags before we even reach our potential; we must stand together, speak out, protest, and be the change we demand, require, and need so bad.”
Mets slugger Dom Smith, a Black man who has spoken about his experiences in a predominantly white sport, took a knee for the national anthem for the first time this season. New York pitcher Robert Gsellman, who is white, wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt instead of a uniform as he watched from the stands behind the dugout.
Jason Heyward, who is also Black, was removed from the Chicago Cubs lineup shortly before first pitch in Detroit.
“There were multiple guys saying they weren’t comfortable going out there and playing if I wasn’t going to go out there. They didn’t want to leave me hanging,” Heyward said. “I let them know, encouraged them – no, go play the game. I don’t think the game should be canceled. But I think I have to do what I have to do.”
Dexter Fowler and Jack Flaherty, both Black, opted not to participate in St. Louis’ game against Kansas City. The team tweeted that it supported the decision.
Washington manager Dave Martinez said he hadn't heard about the movement before a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.
“I just now started reading what was happening and what was going on. I will say this, though. I’m proud of the NBA. I’m proud of all the people who stand for justice,” he said. “It’s horrible. We need change.”
“I’m going to talk to the players. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I get it,” he said, choking up.
Toronto slugger Rowdy Tellez said the Blue Jays would meet Thursday to decide a course of action.
“It’s going to be a great team discussion and probably a very emotional one for a lot of guys that know what it’s like,” he said.