BALTIMORE — Opinions are divided on whether or not the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles should have played Wednesday afternoon following several days of civil unrest that led to the cancellation of the previous two games.
But with a need to make up any missed contests and a more peaceful night Tuesday, the White Sox said they are glad to play at least one game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards — even if it made history. The two teams are playing in the first ever game in Major League Baseball history that is closed to the public in an attempt to ensure law enforcement resources aren’t tied up in an effort to protect the event.
“I’m not happy that I’m the first to do it and I wish it never would have happened but it is what it is,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. “I’m excited to do this and what’s going on outside, it’s hard to speak upon. But you’ve got to play the games and get them in and this is the best way they feel is necessary to do it.”
Whereas Monday’s pregame coincided with the beginning of riots that resulted in 200-plus arrests, 159 fires and 20 police officers injured, Tuesday was much calmer as a weeklong citywide curfew was imposed at 10 p.m. Though it’s been surreal and “scary,” the reduced tension left players and coaches feeling as if they could play Wednesday.
“We don’t feel the same way we did on Monday,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Yesterday there was a little concern of being able to be in here and keep it safe. They didn’t necessarily want to move security or National Guard down here just to protect us while playing a game. Yeah, it’s different today.”
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Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he understands why no fans attended the contest but also believes it would have been a unifying event for the city at a time it needs it most.
“It's not an easy time for anybody right now,” Jones said. “It doesn't matter what race you are.
"We need this game to be played, but we need the city to be healed first.
“To have fans, it would be awesome because it can give them three hours of distractions, and that’s what sports brings, it’s a small distraction from the real world. I think the people of Baltimore need that, but at the same time the safety of those people are very important to those people, the Orioles, Major League Baseball and to the city of Baltimore. Therefore it’s understandable why they’re not allowing any fans. It’s going to be weird, but it’s understandable.”