Tim Anderson is a baseball player. It’s how he makes a living for him and his family.
In this moment in history, he affirmed that indeed he is finding it difficult to try to care about baseball.
“I guess you could just say take care of what really matters,” he said during a conference call Monday afternoon. “I think this problem is bigger than baseball at the moment.”
Anderson, the reigning big league batting champ and the only Black American player on the White Sox roster, sees what’s happening across the country, watching the thousands of protesters demanding an end to police brutality against and the police killings of Black people in the wake of the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis.
“Definitely witnessing something I only have heard about but I never have lived in,” he said. “It was definitely crazy. Just to see the things that are going on and how the world is reacting, I think there are a lot of angry people out there who feel like they are going unheard.
“I think that’s why it’s boiling down the way it is and things are happening the way they are. There’s a lot of angry people out there.”
It’s impossible to think about athletes and the issue of police brutality against Black people and not think of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who took a stand by taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games. He enraged plenty in the process and has remained jobless despite being a Super Bowl quarterback in a league constantly searching for answers at the position.
Anderson hasn’t gone that far. He said he hasn’t participated in any of the protests. His public response to the current climate can be summed up in a few tweets, the most striking of which featured four pictures of him posing in front of the aftermath of Saturday night’s protests and separate acts of destruction and vandalism in Chicago. Monday, he described “the good, the bad and the ugly” of that aftermath as a piece of history, as well as art.
But as he’s made clear before, he’s not going to “stick to sports,” the instruction often lobbed at athletes who dare speak about anything but their chosen profession. Fans are always hungry for a baseball player’s comments on baseball. A certain subset of them has zero tolerance for their comments on just about anything else.
It’s a ridiculous way to act, as if all people should reserve their thoughts to their job and nothing more. And in these times with sports on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson perfectly explained why.
“We stand for more than just sports,” he said. “If you remove the sports, as you can see now, then what are we? We're human beings. We stand for more than our job title.
“People are trying to be themselves instead of just being ‘the baseball player.’ … I think it's just allowing more people to be themselves.”
Who knows how prevalent the tough conversations that lead to change are in clubhouses across Major League Baseball. Some players have spoken out on Twitter, including White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito. Asked about his conversations on these subjects with his teammates, Anderson singled out Giolito as someone he’s talked to before and someone who “gets it.”
“Gio is the person … we kind of conversate on a different level when it comes to certain things,” Anderson said. “You hear his perspective, and always using that as a learning tool. … He’s understanding it and kind of speaking out because we have talked about things, what it’s like growing up being black and how things are just not always what they are now.
“Definitely bold of him to speak out. Let me know he felt the love. I always knew how Gio felt about things and certain situations because that is a person I talk to. Just to see that, I definitely felt the love. He gets it and he understands it. So, I think that’s why he posted it. He wants what’s best, as well. I think we all do.”
Anderson isn’t even participating in the protests, and it's unfair to ask him to speak for Black America just because he’s the Black guy on his major league team.
But he’s an American citizen like the rest of us, and he’s choosing not to stick to sports and to act in a way he hopes can help solve what’s plaguing our country.
“We're at a moment where we need everybody's love, regardless of what race,” he said. “I think we're at a moment where we need to hold hands, every race, every color, it don't matter. I think we move better as one.”