Why protesting during the anthem is the ultimate sin in Major League Baseball unlike the NFL where Kaepernick and now Lynch have took a knee ? Here is one player’s view:
Adam Jones works in a city that continues to experience racial upheaval, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that baseball’s most outspoken player on African American social issues calls Baltimore home.
Baseball is the sport that helped break barriers for black people across the United States, starting with Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947. Nearly 70 years later, the participation of African Americans in the game, on the field as players, in the dugout as managers and in front offices as executives – where progress was always slower – is giving away the gains. Jones, who has spoken out before on racial issues, has little company: a lonely voice in a depleted sea of African American players.
Yet Jones has shown he is unafraid to share his thoughts on Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protests during the national anthem, even if his statements convey a certain fear. “Baseball is white man’s sport,” Jones told USA Today this week. “We already have two strikes against us, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us.”
Baseball, as the old saying goes, is as American as apple pie. The game, while no longer as popular as the NFL, is almost as American as the flag that flies in its ballparks, and the anthem that has been played before every single game since the 1940s. It is a hyper-patriotic place, and so Jones believes that one reason the protest hasn’t spread to Major League Baseball is because protesting via such symbols on one of its sacred diamonds might find even less support from its fans, owners, front office members and team-mates. Even worse, it could lead to a pink slip.
What a thought from Jones. In a game that features one of the toughest disciplines in all of sport, hitting a round ball with a round bat, the Orioles outfielder believes that even those with that rare talent could find themselves off of rosters for speaking out. That because there’s no strength in their numbers, African Americans could find themselves out of a job for voicing their own personal views on a subject that continues to tear at America’s social fabric.
“The first amendment says we have freedom of expression. We’re supposed to be so free, so free. But any time anybody of color speaks up in the United States, for some odd reason, they always get the raw end of the deal. It sucks,” Jones added.
Perhaps another reason the protest hasn’t spread to baseball is the very nature of the game itself. In the NFL, hitting is something that happens on every play of every game. In baseball, pitchers have thrown at batters before for their own personal reasons. While it may sound extreme, Ryan Dempster admitted that he plunked Alex Rodriguez in 2013 because of his feelings about performance-enhancing drugs. If a pitcher vehemently disagreed with a player protest during the national anthem, who is to say he may not seek his own retribution? Maybe a slide into second is a little harder. Perhaps an umpire’s strike zone gets a little wider.
Jones, for all of his insight on the subject, will not be joining Kaepernick. He told the Baltimore Sun that he would not kneel during the anthem because his father and brother served in the military, that the flag has strong meaning to him personally.
“Sometimes we just need to talk about it,” Jones also told the Sun. “We’re the ones people listen to. We’re the ones people bet on all the time. This was the right opportunity. I knew I’m going to get backlash from it. That’s just part of it whenever you speak up, but at the end of the day, if more conversations are being started, I’m happy about it.”
Source: The Guardian