The action follows three games being postponed on Wednesday as players across the sports landscape reacted to the weekend shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
But the eight other Major League Baseball games, all part of doubleheaders, remained on the schedule Thursday as the NBA, WNBA and NHL all postponed play. That drew a sharp rebuke from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, whose team was playing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Flaherty tweeted, “WE ARE THE ONLY SPORT PLAYING TODAY LET THAT SINK IN,” before later deleting the tweet. He also addressed the situation in a Zoom call with reporters.
“Yesterday would have been the day for leaguewide action. It wasn’t able to happen. Hopefully it could happen today, but it doesn’t seem like it’s able to happen today,” Flaherty said. “… It sucks because you look for it to be a unified thing.”
Throughout the day, the Red Sox strongly considered not playing to protest social injustice, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan, and were in communication with the Blue Jays as both teams offered each other support.
“The continued police brutality and social inequity demand immediate attention and focus from all of us — not only Black Americans and Canadians,” the Red Sox and Blue Jays said in a joint statement. “We fully respect the decision of our players to bring further awareness to the systemic racism that contributes to police violence against Black, Indigenous and people of color in our communities. We look forward to getting back on the field, and using our strongest platform, our game, to amplify our message demanding meaningful change.”
The Twins and Tigers will make up Thursday’s game as part of a doubleheader on Friday, the teams announced.
“The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, a mere three months after the killing of George Floyd, shows again that real change is necessary and far overdue in our country, and it is our responsibility to continue playing a role in efforts to affect meaningful reform,” the Twins said in a statement.
Blake was shot seven times by police Sunday as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media, sparking more protests and causing more athletes to speak out or take action.
The Athletics released a tweet from the players, in which they said they were not playing “to help raise awareness for these social issues, not just tonight, but for our collective future.”
From the players of the Oakland A’s pic.twitter.com/0JEDBmuL8Z
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) August 27, 2020
The Rangers also tweeted about the postponement, saying they respected the decision of the Athletics players.
The Phillies issued a statement saying the decision to call off Thursday’s game was one made collectively with the Nationals.
“We support their decision to use their platform to call attention to the racial and social injustice that continues to exist in our country,” the statement by the Phillies said. “We will continue to stand behind our players and those on the front lines working to generate accountability and real change in our society.”
The Phillies and Nationals held a joint news conference on Zoom later Thursday. Nats manager Dave Martinez was emotional in discussing Thursday’s postponement, calling it “a humanitarian issue.”
“When I have to go home at night and think about my grandkids and how they’re going to grow up … it hurts,” he said. “It hurts a lot. We go through this day in and day out. I hear from the players, how they struggle, knowing we’re trying to do our best to go out there and play this game, but there are things going on in this world that they can’t put aside. It’s time to speak up. I think that’s the message we’re trying to send. We have to speak up.”
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins acknowledged that some members of the team were “on the fence about whether they felt comfortable playing, given the climate in this country right now.” He said the decision was made easier after the team held a meeting to discuss the issue.
“The listening part is key,” he said. “Whatever decision was made, we wanted to make sure we were doing it together. We listened to guys speak. We listened to guys get emotional, and I think that’s something that stuck with all of us, and it was in the best interest to not play tonight and go about our business tomorrow.”
The Mets and Marlins jointly walked off the field before their game was postponed. Both teams initially lined up along the Citi Field baselines, while Mets starters took their positions in field. With Friday being Jackie Robinson Day across baseball, the two teams stood for a 42-second moment of silence, in honor of Robinson, then left the field.
Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain was asked what he thought Robinson would think of what is going on regarding social injustice in today’s society.
“I think he would be amazed at the lack of progress,” Cain said. “The fact that I’m on a Zoom call and talking about this in 2020, I don’t see the progress. It’s almost like going backwards.”
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado said Colorado felt like the team “missed it yesterday by playing,” adding that Rockies players “wanted to stand by our brother Matthew [Kemp] and the Black community.” Kemp opted not to play in Wednesday’s game.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and Pedro Gomez contributed to this report.