Forty minutes after Kevin Gausman was supposed to throw the first pitch to Mookie Betts at Oracle Park, the Giants and Dodgers, longtime rivals, put out a rare joint statement.
Their game had been postponed. Instead of playing, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts stood in front of cameras in the hallway outside the visiting clubhouse at Oracle Park, Mookie Betts on his right and Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen on his left.
They spoke powerfully, with Betts and Roberts saying they never intended to take part in a game Wednesday, choosing instead to protest the Jacob Blake shooting. Kershaw said it was important that Dodgers teammates showed support for Betts, and so they decided that they also would not play.
About an hour later, Giants manager Gabe Kapler sat at a podium by himself. He wouldn’t reveal if the Giants took a vote regarding whether or not to play. He said there were plenty of difficult conversations in the clubhouse, but shed little light on whether those ultimately led to the Giants also deciding that they should sit this one out and make a statement.
“I did meet with our team and our clubhouse continues to be united on the same themes that we’ve been talking about, that racial inequality is completely unacceptable,” Kapler said. “I support every player, coach, person in our clubhouse, all of our staff, speaking out about their beliefs, and in those conversations I encourage them to do so. I know this is difficult but I’m not always going to discuss the specifics of those conversations, but I’m certainly happy to share as much perspective as possible, and then we’re going to continue to make sure that those discussions take place because we all know how tremendously important they are, and particularly with the current state of the country.”
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There’s little doubt about where Kapler stands on this one. He has been outspoken about racism and police brutality, became the first manager to take a knee, has been active in the community and spoke passionately about the NBA cancelations and the Blake shooting earlier Wednesday. But the Giants didn’t do a great job of making it clear after the postponement that the clubhouse, which has lost a couple of the players who initially took a knee — including Jaylin Davis — feels the same way.
No player was made available to the media and Kapler didn’t directly answer questions about whether the Giants, 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. I don’t think that’s any secret.,” he said. “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.”
There was none of that Wednesday night from the actual players, either on the Zoom press conference or social media. That made for an uncomfortable situation. The Giants and Dodgers did a good thing, and did so together, but it was hard not to come away from Kapler’s words with the impression that a lot of the Giants absorbed everything that was going on Wednesday in the sports world and still wanted to play, only to be shut down when Betts’ teammates followed his lead.
This is a divisive issue, and it seems that was the case in the Giants clubhouse, even though it’s led by a manager who has spoken passionately for one side.
“Obviously the Jacob Blake-Wisconsin incident was horrific, and we have the opportunity on a day like today to talk about it, and even at the expense of baseball, which is really a powerful thing,” Kapler said. “We’re going to continue to have that opportunity when more things pop up and at that point we’ll have decisions to make about how we want to handle it.”