At 1:12pm PT on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, word came out that the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic, in protest against the police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At 1:43pm PT, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder also decided not to play. At 2:05pm PT, the NBA announced that all playoff games that day would be postponed.
At 2:59pm PT, MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play their 5pm PT game against the Cincinnati Reds. At 4:06pm PT, the Seattle Mariners decided not to play their 6pm PT game against the San Diego Padres.
At 3:35pm PT, Bob Melvin was asked if the A’s had discussed not playing. He said they had not.
The A’s and Rangers played the game. The A’s won 3-1.
After the game, Melvin was asked if the A’s had discussed not playing. He said they did, but it was “too close before game time” to make that decision. He gave individual players the option not to play. Nobody took that option.
I don’t buy the A’s argument that they didn’t have enough time to think about and discuss the decision. The instant the Bucks made their decision, every single person in the A’s organization should have been thinking through the idea about whether they, too, should abstain from playing. They had over two hours from the Bucks decision until Bob Melvin’s pre-game press conference. From the press conference, they still had and hour and a half to discuss it before the game.
Nobody on the A’s except Melvin talked to the media after the game. So at this moment, we don’t know what the A’s reasoning was. We’re left only to guess.
The A’s have three African-American players on the team, including the two highest-paid players on the roster, Khris Davis and Marcus Semien. The third African-American, Tony Kemp, has perhaps been the most vocal of all the A’s players on social justice issues this season. The A’s don’t lack for African-American leadership in the clubhouse on these kinds of issues.
So I’m sure the A’s have some actual reasoning to their decision besides “we ran out of time”. I’m sure we’ll hear it at some point. But this was a very significant day in the history of sports in this country. The A’s had an opportunity to participate in the protest, or to at least give their reasoning why they did not. Instead, all we got from them was a weak justification and an empty argument. It’s disappointing.