Red Sox

Planner behind Fenway 'Racism is American' banner explains anti-racist statement

Planner behind Fenway 'Racism is American' banner explains anti-racist statement

UPDATE, 1 a.m., Sept. 14: The protest group member who spoke to CSNNE said Antifa Boston's claim of responsibility for hanging the banner at Fenway Park is "ridiculous."

"The five of us are in no way associated with Antifa nor did Antifa Boston have anything to do with the action," the group member wrote via text.

As proof, they provided an image of the banner when it was being unfurled ahead of the demonstration, as a test.

BOSTON — The group of five people who brought a banner into Fenway Park that read “Racism is as American as Baseball” were white anti-racist protestors, one of the group’s members told CSNNE on Wednesday night.

A group member agreed to explain how the night unfolded to CSNNE only on the condition of anonymity, because they did not want to detract from the importance they see in the banner’s message. 

Two people documented the night — one from afar and one from up close — while three people held the banner. The banner was unfurled in the middle of the fourth inning before stadium security quickly intervened.

“There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area,” the group member said by phone. “Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of]. 

“But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”

The Black Lives Matter movement was one of the group’s inspirations.

The banner's intended message didn't make it across to everyone clearly, however. On social media, some people thought the banner was promoting racism. Others simply noted ambiguity.

The group was somewhat surprised by the confusion.

"I guess we should have seen that coming, but we also didn’t think of it as an ambiguous message," the group member said. "It’s kind of telling that it is being interpreted as one."

The group expected to be ejected from Fenway Park. The group member said they had been in touch with IfNotNowWhen, a group that unfurled a banner with political messaging about the Middle East at Fenway in June.

A U.S. military veteran was honored as the banner was unfurled, but the group member said that timing was coincidental.

In a statement explaining Wednesday's ejection of four people from the park, the Red Sox said the banner was “in violation of the club’s policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark.”

The ejection of four people rather than five was because of the fifth group member’s distance inside the stadium. The fifth left on their own volition.

Fenway security personnel handled the matter professionally, looked at the group’s IDs and then released them, the group member said. One person walked up to the group as IDs were being checked and demanded the group be arrested.

“People booed us as we walked out, asking us to find something better to do,” they said.

A statement on behalf of the group was later emailed to CSNNE by the group member.

“We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism,” the group said in a written statement. “White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.”

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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