Eleven MLB games were postponed this past week in a group effort to bring attention to police brutality. MLB teams joined athletes protesting in other sports following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In this week's 'What we learned,' I aim to highlight the moments that unfolded across MLB in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake along with some additional tidbits from on field action.
Devin Williams' 'BLM' tribute
Brewers reliever Devin Williams has put himself on the map this year with his mid-90's fastball and devastating changeup. What sets him apart from the rest of the Brewers roster is that he is the only Black player on the active roster.
Less than 24 hours after video of the Jacob Blake shooting surfaced, Williams was called upon at Miller Park. Milwuakee is less than an hour away from Kenosha and Williams, the Brewers' only Black player on the active roster, etched the letters "BLM" (Black Lives Matter) in the dirt behind the mound. He then struck out the side in order.
Van Wagenen's Video Leaks
Amid the numerous boycotts across professional sports, video of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen leaked that included critical comments that questioned the leadership of commissioner Rob Manfred. Said Wagenen about Manfred, "That leadership level, he doesn't get it. He just doesn't get it."
Soon after the video leaked, Wagenen apologized to the commissioner and corrected himself, saying the idea of players leaving the field for an hour out of protest actually came from Mets owner Jeff Wilpon. Manfred confirmed Wagenen's statement, as did Wilpon.
42 Seconds of Silence
The Marlins-Mets game on Thursday and A's-Astros game on Friday featured powerful statements from all teams involved. In both games, the home team took the field with the starting pitchers never throwing a warm up pitch. The leadoff hitter was announced, followed by all players coming out of their respective dugouts and lining up on the foul lines for a 42-second moment of silence in honor of Jackie Robinson. Teams then left the field and games were postponed.
A Black Lives Matter shirt was left lying on home plate at Citi Field. Minute Maid Park in Houston was left empty with an A's No. 42 jersey in the right-hand batter's box and Astros No. 42 jersey in the left-hand batter's box.
Dodgers MiLB player heckled for kneeling
Jared Walker, a former fifth-round draft choice and current minor-league infielder for the Dodgers, shared his experience being heckled by fans while taking a knee during the national anthem. Walker is playing for Eastern in the Independent Constellation League this summer after Minor League Baseball cancelled its season due to the pandemic.
Fans attending a game can be heard yelling out the words "traitor" and "idiots" toward Walker and teammate C.J .McElroy.
Yu Darvish's Glove Toss
Sure, Yu Darvish can throw a slider with the best of them. But, did you know he could also throw a baseball and his glove, all while getting a hitter to swing and miss? Add this to the list of "things I've never seen in baseball before."
Kole Calhoun Plays Dodgeball
While Major League Baseball has been testing the waters with newly implemented extra inning rules and the universal DH, perhaps it's time to add dodgeball rules for baserunners -- and by baserunners, I mean Kole Calhoun.
Calhoun was dead meat on his way to second base when the throw from catcher Tony Wolters, who was backing up the play at first, came in the vicinity of his head. So, what is a baserunner to do? Well, let's just say Calhoun was using his head...literally.
Francisco Lindor: Crowd Teaser
It appears the Francisco Lindor trade rumors are becoming a yearly tradition in baseball. With Lindor, reportedly, seeking a deal in the Mookie Betts range, Cleveland is not expected to pay the four-time All-Star shortstop. Despite the pessimism, Lindor posted to his Instagram a photo of him fielding ground balls at Progressive Field with the caption "I always wanted to be here."
Has he always wanted to be in Cleveland? Has he always wanted to be in the mindset he's currently in? Please, translate these cryptic words for us, Francisco.
Fernando Tatis Jr. Runs Track
We couldn't publish this piece of fun tidbits without inviting Fernando Tatis Jr. to the party. This time, though, FTJ isn't burning every unwritten rule book as if he's a character in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Rather, he is now using imaginary starting blocks and running track sprints...on the base paths.
Why? Well, because he's Fernando Tatis Jr., that's why. To be honest, it's a pretty smart strategy and I'm more surprised we haven't seen it utilized more.
Luke Voit Carrying the Load
When the Yankees set their sights on building a championship roster, not too many people thought Luke Voit would be carrying the load but that's exactly what's happening in The Bronx.
With Aaron Judge heading back to the IL for the second time, joining Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez looking completely lost at the dish (.130 BA, 37 strikeouts), Voit has stepped up in commanding way. With 13, Voit is tied for the MLB home run lead and leads the AL in OPS (1.072).
Since the Yankees' acquisition of Luke Voit in July 2018, he's crushed 48 long balls. As for Stanton and Judge, the two players who were expected to lead the offense, they have a combined 57 HR across that same period.
Struck By Lightning, Finishes Game
This one warrants little lead up. Just read the story of former Indians pitcher Ray Caldwell being struck by lightning mid-game and returning to the mound to finish after "being revived." No, this is not some mythological story -- this actually happened more than 100 years ago.