Beyond the win-loss record, their personal statistics or financial improvement, the Seattle Mariners continued making the fight for social justice a top priority for the 2020 season and beyond by voting unanimously to call off their game against the Padres in San Diego on Wednesday night in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
Per reports from people at the stadium, Mariners manager Scott Servais sought out Padres manager Jayce Tingler for a conversation while the Padres were taking batting practice around 4:45 p.m. A group of team leaders from each team met around 5 p.m., just after the Padres were finishing batting practice. Mariners veterans Dee Gordon, Kyle Seager and Marco Gonzales met with Tommy Pham, Austin Hedges and Manny Machado on the field to discuss the situation and notify the Padres of the team vote.
The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday starting at 12:10 p.m. Both games will be seven innings.
Gordon released a statement via Twitter:
“There are serious issues in this country. For me, and for many of my teammates, the injustices, violence, death and systemic racism is deeply personal. This is impacting not only my community, but very directly my family and friends. Our team voted unanimously not to play tonight
Instead of watching us, we hope people will focus on the things more important than sports that are happening. — Dee Strange-Gordon”
The Mariners released a statement supporting the decision made by the players:
“The Seattle Mariners respect the team’s decision to not play tonight’s game. The Seattle Mariners stand with our players as they speak out with their words and actions against social injustice.”
The Padres released a statement that read:
“We understand the Mariners decision to postpone tonight’s game and we support the players’ efforts to use their platform to bring awareness to the very serious issue of racial injustice impacting our country today.”
Gonzales, who is the Mariners’ player representative with the MLB Players Association, and the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff and of this rebuilding team, tweeted his feelings on the situation:
“I am extremely proud to be a part of this group. We have listened, loved, and supported one another through this tough time. But I’m heartbroken for my brothers and teammates who fear for their lives and their families lives on a daily basis. This isn’t about baseball right now. It’s about justice, equality, and understanding. Thank you to our Mariners family for supporting us and standing up for what’s right.”
The Mariners’ decision came after Wednesday’s NBA and WNBA games were called off because of similar protests. The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to protest playing Wednesday.
The Brewers and Reds were the first MLB teams to vote to postpone their game at Miller Park in Milwaukee earlier in the afternoon. Players from others teams have opted not to play Wednesday night in a form of protest. The Dodgers and Giants also postponed their game.
Major League Baseball released a statement regarding the postponements:
“Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight. Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”
The Mariners have eight Black players on their active roster and 11 on their 40-man roster, more than any other team in baseball. Since the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, those Mariners players, led by Gordon, have been vocal on social media and in interviews about their beliefs for the need for change and using their platform as professional athletes to make it happen.
On opening day, every player on the Mariners and all the coaches wore Black Lives Matter shirts during pregame warm-ups and several players held up their right fist during the playing of the national anthem.
Servais has embraced their commitment to this cause and has asked for them to speak to teammates about the situation and their personal experiences. He also gave the players their choice about any protests that the might choose to make on opening day and moving forward through the season. Gordon has opted to remain in the clubhouse during the playing of the national anthem after being present on opening day.
When the news of the Blake shooting first broke and the graphic video followed, showing him being shot in the back approximately seven times, social media was flooded with athletes speaking out. The Mariners were part of that group.