As decisions were being made behind closed doors Wednesday night, the scene playing out on the field at Oracle Park was a bizarre one.
About an hour after the Giants cut short batting practice to hold a team meeting, outfielder Alex Dickerson walked into the dugout and removed his bats. A coach walked to center field to gather a bag of balls and a set of cones. But a few minutes later, there were signs of action. Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb, the next two scheduled starters for the Giants, came out to play catch. About a dozen Los Angeles Dodgers players walked out into right field and did the same, staying loose as conversations went on between the teams.
The Dodgers actually put out their lineup 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, and with 45 minutes remaining, the grounds crew took the field and started chalking the lines. There was confusion, and for good reason.
That was particularly true on the home side of Oracle Park. For the Dodgers, this seemed a relatively easy choice. Star outfielder Mookie Betts made it clear early in the process that he would not play Wednesday, joining strikes around the game and sports world that started with the Milwaukee Bucks. The rest of the team quickly fell in line, choosing to take the massive step of sitting out a game to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
But on the Giants side, reactions were more mixed. The Giants have been at the forefront of the discussion since manager Gabe Kapler and several players took a knee in Oakland five weeks ago, but there were players who preferred to show support Wednesday in a different way. The Giants have won seven straight. This was to be a nationally televised game, and there was conversation of making a different kind of statement.
The Giants leaned overall toward playing, although a vote never was taken. There also was a strong understanding that players would stand together and support whichever decision was made by the Dodgers. Members of the teams discussed options as the first pitch approached, and ultimately the Giants joined the Dodgers in postponing the game to Thursday.
« We have to deal with the reality that even within a major league clubhouse we’re going to have different viewpoints and different perspectives and we have to figure out a way to bring people together, » president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Amy Gutierrez. « Hopefully we can all gather around themes that we all believe in. I think everybody believes in racial equality and maybe when we get to particulars about how to achieve that, things are different.
« As a professional sports team, as a team in this region, we just want to bring people together, and that’s going to continue to be our goal as we move forward. »
This was the latest step in that process, and even the teams would tell you it was a small one. The Giants and Dodgers got right back to work a day later, with a scheduled doubleheader to make up for the lost game. But the hope was that their actions Wednesday resonated, that they can be a small part of the solution.
« I think it’s pretty clear the message is that people in the world don’t accept killings for no reason, they don’t accept social injustice. People are starting to feel that way and to act, » Yastrzemski said. « I think there is a civil way to do these things and make your point and make change.
« I’m not a politician, I’m not a bill-writer. I’m just an athlete who has some personal views because of my own personal experiences and the people that I know. I hope that something good will come out of this. »
Yastrzemski has blossomed into an MVP candidate in his second big league season. He also has taken on a leadership role for the Giants, who are younger than they’ve been in the past, and are now without Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Pence. Yastrzemski was part of conversations with the Dodgers, and said that after all was said and done, he had a sleepless night.
This is a cause that has become extremely important to him in recent months, and he was one of the few white players around the game to take a knee following the George Floyd killing.
« It’s important to see this isn’t just affecting one community, it’s affecting our country and I think that shows the importance of this, » he said. « It’s very easy to pass off situations that aren’t affecting us personally, but I had a couple conversations with guys yesterday and they said, ‘Could you imagine if this was happening to your family? If your family was the one that was being directly affected by this?’
« That hit home because I don’t know how I would be able to move on from things like that or handle it. I’m just trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes and a different perspective from what I continually have known as my life. »
That is perhaps part of what made Wednesday’s conversations a bit trickier for the Giants. With Jaylin Davis optioned to the alternate camp, they do not have an African-American on the active roster. Yastrzemski said he wouldn’t say players weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on what to do, rather that they were talking through different options to show support for the Black community.
The sides at one point discussed taking the field together and then walking off. Ultimately, they came to an agreement to simply move the game, becoming the third set of MLB teams on Wednesday to do so. The movement continued a day later, with the A’s and Texas Rangers postponing their game, along with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.
« I think what we’re seeing around the country in sports is that players in particular are taking notice and taking action, » manager Gabe Kapler said.
How Giants, Dodgers decided to postpone game amid Jacob Blake boycotts originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
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