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MLB’s Mets and Marlins walk off field to protest racial injustice

A Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins has been postponed after both teams staged a walk off to protest against racial injustice. 

Players appeared at New York’s Citi Field for their scheduled matchup on Thursday night, but decided not to start the game.  

Both teams took off their hats and stood silent for 42 seconds, before Marlins centerfielder Lewis Brinson placed a Black Lives Matter t-shirt on the home plate.  

New York Mets outfielder Dominic Smith –  who wept Wednesday night while discussing the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake – then led his team back into the dugout. The Marlins followed suit. 

The Mets-Marlins matchup is one of 10 MLB games postponed in the past two days, as baseball stars join professional athletes from other sporting codes in boycotting games over the police shooting of Blake. 

Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was tasered and shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. 

The teams walked off about two hours after a video appeared on the MLB’s official website in which Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen criticized the league’s Commissioner Rob Manfred for his handling of player protests . 

In audio that was picked up on a hot mic, Van Wagenen alleged Manfred was pressuring players to stage a symbolic walkout and return to play the game an hour later. 

Van Wagenen said the Mets actually wanted a full postponement.

‘At a leadership level, he doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t get it,’ Van Wagenen was heard saying of Manfred. 

The Mets GM later apologized for his comments, saying: ‘I have put myself and this organization into this conversation in a way that takes away from the real point. I’m disappointed in myself.’

Here’s video of Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen discussing a plan in which he says MLB wanted the Mets to take the field, leave it and return an hour later. Van Wagenen is critical of the idea and commissioner Rob Manfred, saying: “He just doesn’t get it.” (Video via @NickCocco18)

Manfred said in a statement that he has not tried to override players’ wishes to protest by not playing.

Over the past two days, players for a number of clubs have decided not to play games,’ he said.

‘I have said both publicly and privately that I respect those decisions and support the need to address social injustice. I have not attempted in any way to prevent players from expressing themselves by not playing, nor have I suggested any alternative form of protest to any Club personnel or any player. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.’ 

Meanwhile, six other MLB games were postponed Thursday. Three had already been postponed on Wednesday evening. 

The boycotts have caused a scheduling nightmare for the MLB, and its unclear how or when the games will be rescheduled, given that the league operates on a tight calendar.

Players have been showing solidarity with professional athletes from the NBA, WNBA and MLS – all of whom have been boycotting their games. 

On Wednesday night, officials feared the NBA’s 2019- 2020 season may be cancelled after some players reportedly refused to head back onto the court. 

However, on Thursday morning a meeting was held to determine the fate of the NBA season where basketball legend Michael Jordan is said to have played a key role in negotiations. 

He successfully persuaded the NBA against cancelling the rest of the season.  

Jordan reached out to NBA president Chris Paul, according to the ESPN, in advance of Thursday’s team owners meeting to get a better understanding of what the players hope to achieve going forward and to offer assistance.

Two participants in Thursday morning’s virtual meeting said Jordan was the voice of reason in the gathering and favored continuing the season.

 The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to announced they would not be taking to the court to play their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. 

Their decision led to other teams also sitting out games as a sign of solidarity.  

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