Athletics

A's Tony Kemp to join MLB players standing up against systemic racism

A's Tony Kemp to join MLB players standing up against systemic racism

Professional athletes have at times been outspoken against racism and police brutality against Black Americans.

That’s especially true in the NBA and at times in the NFL.

Baseball players have been far quieter in terms of pre-game displays of protest in the past, outside of former A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell kneeling during the national anthem late in the 2017 season.

Oakland second baseman Tony Kemp says that’s about to change.

“It’s definitely going to look a bit different,” he said Monday in a video conference with A’s reporters.

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That’s being discussed by the Players Alliance, a group of current and former Black players devoted to using their platforms to enact positive change.

Kemp is part of a group led by Curtis Granderson, C.C. Sabathia and Edwin Jackson that wants to act and speak out against racial injustice, especially after recent acts of police brutality against Black Americans and the ensuing protests that have brought greater attention to the systemic racism that has existed in the United States since its inception.

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Black players across MLB plan to make a statement on Opening Day of this shortened 60-game season protesting racial inequality and police brutality against Black Americans.

“Right now, for Opening Day, most guys are going to have a different avenue,” Kemp said. “Some guys are going to have a piece of black cloth to show unity. Some guys might kneel. Some guys might have a black hat to hold over their heart. There will be something that will be shown on Opening Day and I plan on being a part of it. I feel like it’s one thing to talk about what you’re going to do but, if you don’t have any actions to go along with it, I don’t think it really means anything.

“I think that Black players will be participating in doing something on Opening Day, and it’s going to be unified. I’m excited to see it. “

The A’s have been supportive of Kemp’s +-1 Effect, a movement focused on changing minds about racism through conversation, one person at a time.

Kemp expects the same support from A’s teammates with whatever he chooses to do on Opening Day.

“I know that a lot of teammates will be supportive and have our backs with it,” Kemp said. “That’s important.”

Why A's will greatly miss Ramón Laureano while he serves suspension

Why A's will greatly miss Ramón Laureano while he serves suspension

A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't sure if he'd have Ramón Laureano in center field for Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels. Laureano is appealing a six-game suspension for his role in Sunday's A's-Houston Astros brawl, and Oakland expected to learn about his appeal before first pitch at Angel Stadium.

But Laureano started, and the A's were beyond thrilled to have him in the lineup for Wednesday's 8-2 win. He drove in a pair of runs and saved at least one, casually robbing a home run from Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Laureano was just as happy, but he toned it down -- as he usually does -- in a video conference with reporters after the game.

“Yeah, I mean I didn’t pay attention too much, I was ready to play since I woke up,” Laureano said of potentially not playing Wednesday.

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Laureano has a way of making these incredible plays and acting as if each were as simple as going grocery shopping. Is it as effortless as he makes it look?

“It’s never an easy play, I just get good timing on it and the outfield here is pretty short in center field," Laureano said. "I always feel good playing here.”

Laureano hadn't watched the game film yet, so he wasn't aware how impressively easy his catch looked.

Pitcher Chris Bassitt was. He pumped his fist in gratitude toward Laureano after each of the outfielder's highlight-reel plays.

“He’s a Gold Glove center fielder,” Bassitt said. “No doubt, but I mean, he won us the game defensively. I mean, I know we won it by a couple more runs, but he definitely saved us.”

Bassitt said balls can really fly in Angel Stadium, and playing during the day forces outfielders to work even harder. But that was no worry for Laureano. He thrives there.

A’s manager Bob Melvin gets to see it all unfold from the dugout. 

“I enjoy watching him play, he’s energetic, he’s exciting, he’s a thrill a minute -- and we’ve seen those plays in the outfield,” Melvin said after the win. “This wall can be fairly easy, not that it’s an easy play, but he times it very well. He knows once he hits the warning track how many steps to the wall and he’s really confident doing it.”

Angels' manager Joe Maddon was pretty upset Laureano didn't start serving his suspension Wednesday.

A total game-changer. 

[RELATEDStewart believes 'justice was done' in Laureano, Cintrón bans]

Whenever Laureano starts serving his suspension, the A's will miss him. Oakland can have a glimmer hope of knowing that Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly's eight-game suspension was reduced to five when he appealed. Kelly threw at Astros players and mocked them as he walked off the mound.

“Since you’re telling me that, I will take that bait,” Melvin said after the game. ”Yeah, I would like it to be reduced, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m not in charge of that.”

Watch Ramón Laureano casually rob home run from Angels' Brian Goodwin

Watch Ramón Laureano casually rob home run from Angels' Brian Goodwin

A’s pitchers Yusmeiro Petit and Chris Bassitt are going to buy Ramón Laureano a nice steak dinner after the performance(s) he put on Wednesday.

The A’s centerfielder made a few strong plays against the Angels, but one in particular was peak Laureano. The fact that he robbed a home run of Los Angeles outfielder Brian Goodwin was great, but watch how casual he made the catch look:

I’m literally laughing out loud. How does he make it look so easy? All in a day’s work for Laureano.

This saved the Angels from tying it up in the bottom of the seventh, but that’s typical of the A's outfielder.

[RELATEDCintrón apologizes, denies insulting Laureano's mother]

Laureano was given a six-game suspension after his role in the A’s-Astros bench-clearing brawl on Sunday, but has elected to appeal it. That means, when he does serve the ban, the A’s will be without him for the time being, but they have a phenomenal back-up plan in Chad Pinder.

Pinder’s middle name could be “diverse,” if it wasn’t Hudson. The guy can do it all, and he can do it well. Just as he did on Tuesday night against the Angels in the 6-0 loss. 

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