The A’s elected not to take the field to play the Texas Rangers on Thursday in protest in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wis.
Teams across MLB, as well as the entirety of the NBA and WNBA, protested by boycotting their games on Wednesday. Some of these decisions were made right before the A’s matchup on Wednesday against the Rangers. Despite their discomfort in beginning the game, they decided to play anyway.
The A's explained their reasoning as a timing issue.
“I think that as a group we felt that there wasn’t enough time to make a decision yet, and we went out there and played,” A’s shortstop Marcus Semien said on Thursday. “I know for me personally, my mind wasn’t in a great place, it’s great we still won the game, but when the game ended, we had a deep conversation as a team on what do we want to do?
"We’re seeing other sports teams, our peers doing things to shine a light on what’s going on in our country, take the light off of ourselves for a game and see if that could make an impact because we’ve been trying all kinds of things and we’re not seeing enough actions so this is a good start.”
Semien said the team made the decision not to play Thursday’s game on Wednesday night.
“Everybody was on board,” Semien said.
Semien also added the team didn’t have an official vote, but he didn’t receive any pushback from anyone. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the world from discussing the A's decision and asking why they chose to play that game.
“I read a couple articles saying that people thought we should have last night, but like I said before, there was not enough time for us to make a decision as a team,” Semien explained. “When you’re in a big league clubhouse at 6:30, everybody’s doing different things to get ready for the game. We couldn’t even get everybody together at that point, so after the game was the best time to talk about it and come up with a plan for what we wanted to do based off of what our peers were doing in other sports and in our sport.”
A’s general manager David Forst described his support for the A's decision and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m hopeful that every action our players, athletes across the country have taken is going to have the intended effect and educate people and be a call to action,” Forst said. “I don’t think you can look at what’s happening right now and as Marcus says, see that video (of Blake being shot in the back) and not be outraged.
"So I think the way our players have handled themselves and gotten together -- they spoke before Opening Day as a group, they’re speaking now as a group, I think as an organization that’s exactly what you want is for your players to have a unified voice. And I’m incredibly proud they took that stance today.”
Wednesday night, after the A’s 3-1 win, Melvin said the decision to play was made in unity. He also mentioned he would have been completely OK if certain players decided to opt-out of the game, and reiterated the fact that it was a timing issue.
A’s infielder Tony Kemp has been an advocate for racial inequality and offered more advice to those who might still not understand.
"This is what we talk about from the +1 Effect and its importance, and it's so good to see the support from the team and these aren't comfortable conversations that we're having -- this is a serious problem," Kemp said.
“Obviously we go out and we play baseball to entertain, but there’s also another part of me that’s like ‘We can no longer stay silent, it’s not a time to just push this stuff that’s going on to the wayside anymore,’” Kemp added.
Semien offered more advice as well.
“Educate yourselves on what’s going on in our country and how we can make things better. And that’s what our statement said a little bit,” Semien said.
He also added he spoke to some of his teammates about possibly donating a day’s pay on Jackie Robinson Day, observed on Friday this season, to causes specifically for police integration and the Oakland community. Semien said this would provide a clear action plan rather than simply talking about it.