Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts never was going to play in Wednesday's scheduled game against the Giants at Oracle Park.
Around 1 p.m. PT, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic as in protest of a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back. Soon after, the Bucks' decision struck a chord throughout the NBA and other leagues as well. In total, three NBA playoff games, three WNBA games, three MLB games -- including Dodgers-Giants -- and four MLS games were called off.
Sources told KNBC-TV that a Dodgers team meeting had been scheduled for 4 p.m. PT, to discuss the protests and whether or not the Dodgers would play that night. Manager Dave Roberts allowed Betts to speak first, and the star outfielder soon told his teammates he wouldn't play that day.
"For me, no matter what, I wasn't going to play tonight," Betts said. "There's a lot going on in the world and change needs to be made. I have to use my platform to at least get the ball rolling. I talked to my teammates and told them how I felt, and they all were by my side."
Roberts, like Betts, is Black, and he joined his player in opting to skip Wednesday's contest. Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, a Black man whose mother, Posy, was a noted civil rights activist and friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., decided not to participate in the game as well. Three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw was the first non-Black player to speak in the meeting.
"As a white player on this team, it's 'How can we show support? What's something tangible that we can do to help our Black brothers on this team?' " Kershaw said. "Once Mookie said that he wasn't going to play that really started our conversation as a team of what we can do to support that. We felt the best thing to do was to support that in not playing."
Sources told KNBC-TV over the next hour many other Dodgers shared their thoughts and opinions on the matter. Not everybody was on the same page, but they came to a group decision to postpone the game. Once the decision was made, the Dodgers had to reach out to ownership and the front office, along with the Giants. Dodgers ownership supported their choice, as did the Giants, who were having similar meetings and discussions themselves.
"We did talk to the Giants as well, and they were in lockstep with our thoughts," Roberts said. "It's not a political issue. This is a human being issue. We all need to be treated the same way. And a Black man getting shot seven times in the back ... we need to be better.
"That just can't happen."
The Giants weren't exactly united in the decision to not play. No Giants player was made available to the media Wednesday, and manager Gabe Kapler didn't directly answer questions about whether his players, like the Dodgers, had decided not to play.
"What I can share with you is that when you're dealing with 26 personalities in a major league clubhouse, you're going to have different viewpoints and different opinions," Kapler said. "I don't think that's any secret. I think what's really cool about the day and age that we're in is players are using their platforms to express themselves, and in exactly the way they want to express themselves and exactly their own words."
The Dodgers and Giants are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Thursday, starting with a 1 p.m. first pitch.