One day after player protests brought NBA playoff games to a temporary halt — a demonstration that spilled over to the WNBA, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and, on Thursday, the National Hockey League — seven MLB games were postponed as players from the teams involved opted not to play in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
The Mets and Marlins didn’t announce their plans prior to the game, taking the field in uniform and standing with caps off for 42 seconds.
It was a strong statement on the eve of MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day — which commemorates the player who broke MLB’s color barrier and wore jersey No. 42.
Left fielder Dominic Smith led the Mets onto the field and led them off, after a shirt with the legend “Black Lives Matter” was placed on top of home plate.
Smith had been emotional after the Mets won on Wednesday night — when the team went ahead with games even as the issues of racial injustice and police brutality roiled the NBA and the rest of the sports world.
“I think the most difficult part is to see people still don’t care,” Smith said Wednesday night. “For this to just continually happen, it just shows just the hate in people’s hearts. That just sucks. Being a black man in America is not easy.”
Video showed Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting, which Blake’s lawyer says left him paralyzed, fueled protests just as the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police did three months ago.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Smith’s words were a wakeup call.
“What I saw from Dom Smith yesterday upsets me that he’s feeling that pain, that black people across the country are feeling that pain, and it’s outrageous,” Van Wagenen said Thursday in an interview on WFAN radio. “The fact that we are still facing these situations at this point in our society is upsetting.”