We’ve seen it time and time again in recent years, as the nation’s ongoing issues with racial injustice have spilled over into pop culture, art, leisure and, yes, sports.
Monday, the Red Sox found themselves in the thick of it again.
With four games vs. the Twins scheduled in Minnesota, the games were moved to 2:10 p.m. ET in order to avoid conflict with protests surrounding the Derek Chauvin trial.
But after another Minnesota black man, Daunte Wright, was shot and killed at the hands of the police on Sunday afternoon, the Twins, Timberwolves and Wild all made the decision to postpone their games on Monday.
Wright, 20 years old, was shot with deadly force by a Brooklyn Center police officer in the middle of a traffic stop.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz enacted a 7 p.m. curfew and the Brooklyn Center Police Department, about eight miles from Target Field, had set up barriers amidst ongoing protests.
The decision to nix the game was announced by the Twins, but the Red Sox were on board.
“We fully support (club president) Dave St. Peter and the Twins’ decision to postpone today’s game,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said via text.
The Red Sox and Twins had taken the field for pregame batting practice and nearly completed pre-game warm-ups when Twins manager Rocco Baldelli approached Sox manager Alex Cora in the visitor’s dugout and informed him the game had been postponed.
Cora said he wasn’t sure if the teams considered moving the four-game series to Boston.
“We don’t have too many details, but it was one of those that everybody understood the decision,” Cora said after offering his condolences to the Wright family. “And now we’re in the hotel and waiting to hear from MLB and the Twins to see what’s next as far as the series.”
It was particularly interesting that everyone on the Red Sox “understood the decision.”
This was a team that as recently as last August, after George Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, couldn’t agree on the best path forward. They said it was not an easy decision to postpone an August game when Jackie Bradley Jr., the team’s only African American player, wanted to sit out. Also that day, outfielder Kevin Pillar said he didn’t think it was important to lift up Black Americans, comments he later apologized for.
On Opening Day in 2020, Bradley and a few others took a knee during the national anthem while surrounded by a majority of teammates that did not join them.
And in 2019, the Red Sox were split almost perfectly along racial lines for a visit to President Trump’s White House.
Whether or not it takes a team coming together in order to be successful is another conversation, but it’s worth noting that the Red Sox haven’t exactly been a winning ball club through these uncomfortable moments. They were barely a .500 team after the White House fiasco and were one of the worst teams in baseball during the 2020 season.
Cora was asked Monday how he thought he could bring the clubhouse together rather than let these potent issues divide them.
“The game is just a game, and you’ve got to treat (the clubhouse) like it’s your family and your friends,” Cora said. “It’s conversations that you got to have. On my end, obviously I didn’t go through everything last year, but I had to deal with it. Talking to my daughter, talking to my family, and having conversations with Jariel, Camilla, not the twins yet but with Angelica; how are we going to deal with this when they’re prepared to understand what’s going on?
“I think from my end, nothing changes. You treat (players) like you normally do, your friends, your little brother, some of them. You have those conversations. …The game is the game and there’s more important things than the game.”
Nobody expects 26 guys from all over the world to have the same opinions. But can they be understanding of each other’s views and accept that sometimes the game takes a back seat to more important issues?
“It’s a topic we have to talk about and we have to keep getting better,” Cora said. “I think as an organization we’ve done an outstanding job communicating with the players, communicating with the coaches, and dealing with this the right way.”
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