Tigers play ball as MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS teams protest police violence

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs went about business as usual on Wednesday night. Several Major League teams and teams in other professional sports leagues did not.

In Detroit, the Tigers decided to take the diamond as a unit. The players made the choice to play with the full understanding of the gravity of recent events. Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire shared that the team did discuss things before the game.

“We were willing to talk about it just like everybody else,” Gardenhire said in his post-game Zoom call. “We all understand what this is all about. And, if they (had) asked us to stand with them, the players had asked us to stand with them and not play tonight, we would do it. That’s just who we are. But our guys wanted to play.”

On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that they would not play their game against the Cincinnati Reds. Later, it was announced that the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, as well as the game between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, would also be rescheduled.

“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,” MLB said in an unattributed statement. “Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”

The NBA postponed three playoff games, the MLS called off five matches and the WNBA postponed three games. It was an unprecedented day in sports history as athletes across the sports world demanded justice in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting.

Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., over the weekend. He is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.

The injustice that Blake suffered at the hands of police struck a nerve for many people, including Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum. The 28-year-old said the way that people choose to effect change is a personal one, but he insists that things have to improve.

“If guys choose to sit out, and that’s how they want to send their message, then I’m all for it,” Goodrum said. “I didn’t choose to do that. But I do recognize that things have to change.”

Though the Tigers did not sit out Wednesday’s action, the team showed an act of solidarity at the top of the seventh inning and posted “United for Change” on the scoreboard.

Related: Some Tigers choose not to be on field during national anthem Tuesday

On the other side, Cubs’ designated hitter Jason Heyward was a healthy scratch from the lineup. He reportedly insisted that his teammates continue on, and they supported his decision not to play.

“There was discussion and there were multiple guys saying they weren’t comfortable going out there and playing if I wasn’t gonna go out there,” Heyward told reporters in Chicago. “They didn’t want to leave me hanging. I let them know, encouraged them, ‘No, go play the game. I don’t think the game should be canceled. But I think I have to do what I have to do.’”

Though the team backed Heyward, one of his teammates had some choice words for the leaders of the country.

As of now, MLB’s slate of games on Thursday will proceed. The Tigers are set to take on the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park at 7:10 p.m.

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