The White Sox have not been a part of the protests sweeping sports, not because their players don’t want to stand up for what they believe in but because they’ve yet to have the opportunity since the protests started late Wednesday afternoon.
The team played a day game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, in the middle of action when news broke of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to sit out of their NBA playoff game in a form of protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people in the United States. The White Sox had finished off their two-game sweep of the Pirates by the time the protests came to Major League Baseball, with six teams completely sitting out of their scheduled games Wednesday night and players around the league individually deciding not to play.
The White Sox had a scheduled off day Thursday, and the earliest they’d be able to take any similar action, if they wanted to do so, would be Friday night’s series-opener against the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
According to Lucas Giolito, who spoke Thursday on racial injustice in the U.S. in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the team’s players have yet to address as a group whether they will participate in an act of protest Friday night.
“We haven't really totally addressed it as a team or anything yet. I think that's something we'll be doing and go from there,” he said, the subject completely changed just two days after he threw a no-hitter. “It’s real life. It’s what’s going on in this country.
“A couple of days ago, I had a really good game, and I want to enjoy that and celebrate that. … We had a nice series, as well. Our team is playing well, momentum is good. But at the same time, there is a lot going on outside of baseball that is very important.
“I’m not really sure. I think that we are going to have to have a discussion on the team and see where everyone’s head is at.”
Major League Baseball saw a lot of participation in protests during the national anthem on Opening Day last month. Every team took part in a pregame moment of silence recognizing the victims of racial injustice after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and players and coaches lined up on the field holding a symbolic piece of black fabric that stretched from foul pole to foul pole.
Giolito was one of several White Sox players and coaches who took a knee during the national anthem before the team’s season-opener against the Minnesota Twins, participating in the same act of protest as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who gained national attention for protesting police brutality years ago.
That day, Giolito joined Tim Anderson, the team’s only Black American player, as well as José Abreu, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Edwin Encarnación, Joe McEwing and Daryl Boston. Yoán Moncada and manager Rick Renteria placed their hands on Anderson’s shoulders while he kneeled in a show of solidarity, and Renteria and Jace Fry separately took a knee before the national anthem.
Giolito has been outspoken about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and his belief that change needs to come to the country. He shared his opinions again Thursday, now with the backdrop of athletes increasing their involvement in protests against racial injustice.
“What went down with Jacob Blake, in my mind, that's unacceptable. That shouldn't be happening in a developed country,” he said. “A man getting shot seven times in his back, that just shouldn't happen. I don't see why that's something that happened, why it has consistently been happening for a long time.
“You see what's going on, athletes continuing to use their voice to speak up, whether that just be in an interview or with what we see going on with players boycotting, or whatever you want to call it, not just in the NBA and WNBA, but now it's creeping into MLB and even further.
“It's part of a bunch of people saying enough's enough, that this isn't something that should continue to go on in this country.”
Obviously, it remains to be seen whether White Sox players will take collective action and sit out of Friday’s game, or if they come up with a different form of group protest, or if any forms of protest will be limited to individual players.
But Giolito plans on continuing to speak his mind and advocate for change.
“Me, personally, I want to continue to raise awareness, talking about it like I'm talking now, not being afraid to express my opinion and how I feel about it, obviously, as a white man, as a white baseball player,” he said. “But at the same time, there's a lot more education that I need to have. I need to, obviously, read more, talk to my teammates more about it.
“I'm not going to argue with someone trying to tell me to stay in my own lane. I'm going to feel comfortable expressing my opinions on things.”