LOS ANGELES >> A more woke Major League Baseball arrived at its delayed start to the 2020 season Thursday night.
Opening Day at Dodger Stadium featured a pre-game video from The Players Alliance, a group of over 100 African-American players led by CC Sabathia, Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, calling for racial justice and asserting “Black Lives Matter.”
The Dodgers coaching staff, led by manager Dave Roberts, and the entire San Francisco Giants squad wore T-shirts with “Black Lives Matter” during the pre-game warmups. Both teams took a knee and held a black ribbon encircling the field during a moment of silence following The Players Alliance video.
The same ritual also played out at Nationals Park before the Yankees-Nationals game earlier in the day.
During the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium, several Giants led by manager Gabe Kapler continued to take a knee (as they had during exhibition games in the Bay Area). This time, Mookie Betts (the only African-American player on the Dodgers’ roster) took a knee as well, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy stood beside him with their hands on his shoulders.
The son of an African-American man and a Japanese woman, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not take a knee during the anthem. Three years ago when Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell was the first MLB player to join NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the anthem, Roberts said he would “have a problem” with one of his players following suit.
Thursday afternoon, he said his opinion had “evolved” from that stance.
“Yes it has,” said Roberts whose father, Waymon, served in the Marines for 30 years. “I’m always trying to evolve and learn and be educated. I’ve realized that standing at attention is not mutually exclusive to your thoughts on social justice and police brutality and things that Colin Kaepernick and Maxi (Maxwell) what he felt. As I’ve learned you’re not trying to disrespect the soldiers, men and women that serve our country and that lay their lives on the line every single day, my father included. So, yeah, I have evolved and changed.”
Roberts said he appreciated MLB allowing The Players Alliance to lead the way on addressing the issues. If any of his players wanted to kneel during the anthem to further emphasize the point, Roberts said that was their decision to make.
“I have talked to our guys about kneeling and for me it was more of an individual choice,” he said before the game. “So collectively we really haven’t settled on anything but I think for me, I just wanted to encourage each and every man to make their own decision.”