The Tampa Bay Rays’ Twitter account wants to focus on something other than baseball on the team’s opening day. With the Rays’ first game quickly approaching, the team sent out messages calling for the arrest of Breonna Taylor’s killers, and drew attention to systemic racism in the United States.
The team started by tweeting about Taylor.
Today is Opening Day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2020
The Rays also announced they donated $100,000 to local groups that fight systemic racism, and tweeted out a chart declaring “systemic racism is real.”
Systemic racism is real. Let’s unite for positive change. pic.twitter.com/4Qgv5HmM57— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2020
The Rays weren’t the only team to make a statement. The Texas Rangers sent out a video in which players spoke about combating racism.
Those messages come a day after the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals took part in a kneeling demonstration prior to Thursday night’s game. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants did the same thing.
That demonstration took place before the national anthem. When the anthem was played, every member of the Nationals and Yankees stood. Dodgers star Mookie Betts and a number of Giants — including manager Gabe Kapler — remained kneeling during the national anthem. Similar demonstrations are expected Friday, though it’s unclear how many players will kneel to protest police brutality and racial injustice during the anthem.
Is MLB doing enough to combat racial injustice?
While the Rays’ tweets and the Rangers’ video are among the most visible demonstrations from teams, it’s worth asking whether that’s truly enough. On the one hand, MLB is typically slow and resistant to change. Seeing the league — and every one of its teams — draw awareness to racial injustice is more than it would have done in the past. Admittedly, that’s a low bar to cross.
However, actions speak louder than words. Teams have the resources to make a much bigger impact. Significant donations would be one way for teams to prove they want to enact real change. If teams don’t follow through on that, the demonstrations, videos and tweets will be nothing more than empty gestures.
The Rangers recognize that and make reference to it in the team’s video, saying, “We as a team know that each of these things mean nothing if there is no action following up these on-field statements.”
They — and every other team in the league — need to follow through on that promise. Doing so will send a much stronger message than pushing out a couple of tweets.
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