Lead, follow or get out of the way.
There was a time when Major League Baseball was among the leaders in this country's march toward social justice. Now it is inarguably a follower.
Worse, the game now risks being dusted into the "get out of the way" category as a righteous movement thunders past MLB, seeking inspiration and direction from the social media accounts of LeBron James and the words of coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich.
That the sport of Jackie Robinson was the last of the four major North American sports leagues to issue any kind of statement or public acknowledgement or position during a full week's worth of passionate protests following the killing of George Floyd is beyond saddening. It is dispiriting.
Even the NHL this week checked in three days ahead of MLB, which stayed silent for days. It was Wednesday before the coast apparently cleared enough for MLB to weigh in with a public statement. And that, according to multiple sources, came after at least a day's worth of behind-the-scenes outrage from many of the industry's black players who questioned why their sport stayed silent.
"MLB released something because they came under pressure from the black players," one current black player told B/R, asking for anonymity because, well, he's seen what's happened to Colin Kaepernick, Bruce Maxwell and others in pro sports. "They were questioned by all the blacks in the game, and that's why they released that statement. We're in a group chat, and some players questioned why MLB hasn't [released a statement] when the NFL, NHL and NBA already had come forth."
From MLB's perspective, according to a spokesperson who is not authorized to speak publicly, the league spent the weekend working on a plan as the national situation moved quickly. It wanted the words to be right but also understood that after years of the impact of racism, the overwhelming feeling was to stop with the words and start with the actions.