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MLB stars hit social media to share feelings on George Floyd

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Major League Baseball players joined the wave of athletes, coaches and executives speaking out about their grief and anger over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, 46, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin, fired last Tuesday, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were also fired, but have not been charged. The death of Floyd sparked unprecedented nationwide protests across the United States over the weekend.

“Racism is thriving in America. That’s a fact.” said New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is black. “If you choose to turn a blind eye towards it … you’re part of the problem that will continue to destroy this nation. Wake up and look in the mirror!”

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, one of the most prominent black stars in baseball, shared his thoughts on the death of Floyd on Instagram.

Twins outfielder Byron Buxton calls Minnesota his baseball home, and he took to Instagram to demand progress and justice in the wake of Floyd’s death.

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton posted a Nike advertisement addressing the death of Floyd while sharing his own message.

“Enough is enough. It’s going to take everyone to help this system change,” Stanton said. “No matter you color or attributes, we are all human, who know what’s right deep down. Making a real change with be Justice for Floyd & everyone who came before him. Let’s all be a part of the change.”

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen kept his message short and simple.

“I don’t want pity,” McCutchen says. “I want change.”

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler reacted to the death of Floyd on Instagram.

“The race card. We hold it. You tell us ‘it’s not about race’ if we ever hold you to it. You don’t want us to have even that 1 bone chilling ‘privilege’ of defense,” Fowler said in part. “You don’t want us to hold any privilege. We don’t hold the privilege of being a criminal, making a mistake, or simply taking a jog, the same as a white man, and being treated the same. He couldn’t breathe. He was murdered. They were gently fired from their jobs. This isn’t right. This can’t go on.”

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, one of baseball’s most outspoken athletes on black issues, posted photos from the protests on the streets of Chicago.

Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle became one of the first baseball players to speak out about the death of Floyd when he shared a message last Friday with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

“Racism is America’s Original Sin,” said Doolittle, who is white. “It was here before we even forged a nation, and has been passed down from generation to generation. And we still struggled to acknowledge that it even exists, much less atone for it. The generational trauma of racism and violence is killing black men and women before our eyes.”

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker shared his thoughts on Twitter alongside a quote from Malcolm X.

“I wish America cared about black folks as much as they care about buildings,” Tucker said.

Adam Wainwright shared a message with his wife Jenny featuring a photo of their adopted black son, Caleb.

“I hate that the innocence and joy will be stolen from him when he learns of the prejudices men of color deal with,” said Jenny Wainwright. “I can’t imagine how much that will hurt. How scary it will feel! I want to keep him like this, knowing nothing but pure unconditional love.”

Wainwright’s battery mate Yadier Molina posted a photo of his children on Instagram with a message of love and understanding written in Spanish.

Retired two-time MVP Dale Murphy said in Twitter thread that his son was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet while protesting on behalf of Floyd.

“As terrible as this experience has been, we know that it’s practically nothing compared to the systemic racism and violence against Black life that he was protesting in the first place,” said Murphy, who is white. “Black communities across America have been terrorized for centuries by excessive police force. If you’re a beneficiary of systemic racism, then you will not be able to dismantle it at no cost to yourself. You will have to put yourself at risk.”

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty posted a pair of notes on Twitter with the caption, “I CANT BREATHE,” the last words of Floyd.

“The system continues to fail time and time again and nothing seems to change,” Flaherty said. “Officers are not being held accountable for their actions. The badge and blue uniform are not a pedestal that puts a citizen of the United States of America above the law. The badge and blue uniform are there to distinguish those who are meant to PROTECT their communities, not terrorize and kill those that are meant to protect and serve.”

White Sox starter Lucas Giolito also shared a note on Twitter captioned with #BlackLivesMatter and announced that he would be working with Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in America.

“Black men & women like Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor will continue to die on the streets & in their homes if we don’t stand alongside them, echoing their voice loud & clear and demand real change and accountability,” Giolito said.

Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, a native of Curacao, shared a message on his Twitter account.

“Most people in power don’t really care about the ones struggling and use their knowledge and deception to keep the same system and stay in power,” Simmons said. “We can’t keep doing this to each other. We need to change the system. It starts with ourselves.”

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso shared a short message on his Instagram story.

“I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because the color of my skin,” Alonso said. “To anyone who faces this type of discrimination, I will fight for you and be an ally. I will always stand with you. There needs to be justice and change made for the better of humanity.”

Boston Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar shared his former Toronto teammate Stroman’s message and added some of his own.

“I also believe people are afraid to stand out/standup, make themselves vulnerable and go against what has sadly become the norm,” Pillar said. “If you hear/see something you disagree with, don’t be afraid to stand your ground or speak up.”



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Dave Dombrowski joins group trying to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville

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Former Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski has joined Music City Baseball LLC, a Nashville-based group intent on bringing Major League Baseball back to the city.

The group lists Dombrowski as a baseball adviser on its website.

“It’s clear to me that Nashville is ready for Major League Baseball, and Music City Baseball is making smart and exciting decisions as it works to bringing a team here,” Dombrowski said in a statement. “From its relationship with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to its community support, Music City Baseball has built a strong foundation.”

Dombrowski, 63, won a ring as the architect of Boston’s 2018 World Series championship team but was fired just a year later amid a disappointing 2019 campaign. After beginning his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1978, Dombrowksi spent time with the Expos, Marlins and Tigers. He won another World Series ring as a member of the Marlins’ front office in 1997.

Music City Baseball was formed in 2019 with the goal of bringing an expansion franchise to Nashville in the next few years. Their advisory board includes other MLB luminaries like Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa,

“Nashville is a city with deep baseball roots, and as we emerge from the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, I believe baseball, and more specifically Music City Baseball, can play an important role in bringing the city back together,” Dombrowski said. “My wife Karie and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Nashville community.”

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Aaron Nola clears virus protocol, reports to Phillies camp

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PHILADELPHIA — Phillies ace Aaron Nola reported to camp on Monday after waiting a few extra days because he was in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“All my tests came back negative,” Nola said. “If you don’t have symptoms and you come in contact with somebody who ends up testing positive, you’re out for probably at least seven days. That could possibly be two starts. It’s obviously going to be a hard part of it. And sometimes it’s out of our control. We just have to try to do our part every day.”

The Phillies have had seven players and five staff members test positive for the virus. None has been identified.

Infielder Scott Kingery and pitchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter were placed on the 10-day injured list with no specified injuries last week. Outfielder Adam Haseley and catcher Christian Bethancourt still haven’t reported to camp.

Nola threw a bullpen upon arriving and would likely start Philadelphia’s season opener later this month if he’s ready. Nola finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2018 when he was 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA. He was 12-7 with a 3.87 ERA last year.

“I was impressed by his bullpen [Monday] considering he hadn’t done a lot for a week,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s too early to tell where he’ll fit in. He would’ve been our Opening Day starter. I have to see where he’s at. I’m not saying he won’t be. I’m not ready to say.”

Nola said he is committed to playing this season amid the pandemic.

“Nothing has crossed my mind about opting out,” Nola said. “I want to play as bad as everyone else does. The guys who opted out, it’s understandable.”

The Phillies are scheduled to open the 60-game season at home against Miami on July 24.

Zack Wheeler, the No. 2 starter behind Nola, is in camp but uncertain about staying because his wife is due to deliver the couple’s first child later this month.

“It’s a very difficult decision. It’s something that is still playing in my head. I have to be very careful here at the field, outside of the field, wherever I go,” Wheeler said. “The baby’s and Dominique’s health are most important to me. So whatever I can do to make sure they are safe, that is the No. 1 goal for me. Baseball comes after that.”

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2020 MLB schedule release winners and losers — Which teams face biggest challenges?

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The annual release of the Major League Baseball schedule is usually a pretty fun night. You get to see what’s lined up for Opening Day. You see how specialty games — like the one in Williamsport, Penn. or the once-planned series this year in London — fit onto the calendar. Most of all, it’s the unfurling of 2,430 glorious games of baseball that will play out over six months. The original version of the 2020 schedule was released way back in August of last year. It feels like a different epoch.

Monday’s release of the shortened version of the 2020 schedule didn’t quite stack up to the usual flurry of excitement. Of the 2,430 games we usually get, this time there will be 900, or at least we hope there will be. Sixty games per team, the fewest in the major leagues since the 1870s, will determine who squeezes into the usual playoff format. Of the many things we could say about such a state of things, we can at least say this: We’ve never seen a big-league schedule like this one.

Strength of schedule isn’t usually a big factor in deciding the final standings. Teams competing for the same division titles usually play nearly identical schedules. There is a bit of variation for the teams competing for wild-card slots, but it’s not typically a deciding factor. This time, however, relative schedule strength has a wider range than any season we’ve had.

That’s because of the unprecedented formula for this year’s slate. Teams will play 40 of their 60 games within their own division (67 percent). That number is significantly higher than a typical season, when teams face division opponents 76 times (47 percent). The other 20 games will be intraleague matchups — the exact same number in which teams usually face the opposite circuit. However, those 20 matchups now comprise a third of each team’s schedule (33 percent) rather than having them spread across 162 games (12 percent).

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