When Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talked to Mookie Betts for the last time Wednesday night, Betts had resolved to sit out both games of Thursday’s scheduled doubleheader and continue to make a point about racial inequality and injustice.
The first lineup that went out Thursday morning reflected that. Betts was not in it. Shortly after, however, a new lineup was announced with Betts in his preferred spot, batting leadoff and playing right field.
Roberts said Betts changed his mind Thursday morning after conversations with teammates and among members of The Players Alliance, a group of over 100 former and current Black players created recently to speak out and promote activism surrounding issues affecting Black communities.
“In talking to Mookie last night, he didn’t plan on playing today,” Roberts said. “He felt that he wanted to continue to stand firm on his position which I absolutely respect and support. But in talking to him this morning … (after) talking to The Players Alliance and Black players around the league, they just came to the consensus that they could use their platform more by playing today.
“And also the fact that there’s a lot of their White teammates who stood beside them in not playing. So acknowledging that and continuing to stay unified and play and to stay in lockstep with their teammates was very important.”
The Dodgers-Giants game Wednesday was one of three MLB games along with three NBA playoff games postponed when players chose not to play in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the larger issues it represented.
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“It’s been emotional. But it’s good,” Roberts said. “It’s been exhausting. But I think the vulnerability that everyone has shown in our clubhouse that the public doesn’t get to see, the vulnerability, the conversations that have happened in our industry and in other industries have been good.
“There’s been a lot of tough conversations and for guys to stand together and not play a Major League Baseball game is a big deal. For the conversations that happened last night by way of media, in people’s homes all over the country, the world — that’s the point.”
Roberts said it was heartening to him that the feeling that “enough is enough” was shared among players of different backgrounds.
“That collection of different races and backgrounds coming together for a common purpose and hopefully solution is what’s important,” he said.
The Players Alliance announced Thursday that all of its members had agreed to donate their salaries from Thursday and Friday (the rescheduled Jackie Robinson Day) to support “efforts to combat racial inequality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”
“We cannot stand idly be and wait for change — in our game or in our country,” The Players Alliance said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “We encourage our allies and fans to join us in taking action. With your support, we can will rewrite our story, creating a more equal world we can all live in together.”
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