Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones claims that you don’t see MLB players protesting the national anthem because “baseball is a white man’s sport.’’
In an interview with USA Today the 31-year-old veteran seems to suggest that unlike the NFL, the MLB doesn’t need black players. He contends that if you choose to make a political stand protesting “The Star Spangled Banner,” the league will kick you out.
“In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us,” Jones argues.
USA Today reports African Americans comprise 68% of the players in the NFL, and 74% in the NBA. Only 8% of the player population in baseball is African American. On Opening day 2016, just 69 African-Americans were on the opening-day rosters and disabled lists.
The growing movement of NFL players protesting the anthem began when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick failed to stand during the ritual pregame ceremony during an exhibition game in August. The 28-year-old veteran, who signed a six-year, $114,000,000 contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, chooses not to honor the American flag because of racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.
Kaepernick now enjoys the company of his teammate Eric Reid, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, and four Miami Dolphins players who all now protest the anthem. More are likely to follow as the NFL season gets further underway.
USA Today reporter Bob Nightingale writes that he doesn’t think that protesting players would be immediately banned from the game, but that given the length of the season—162 games plus playoffs and World Series—“they could face much more ridicule and ostracization.”
Jones, who has delivered major offensive production for the Mariners and the Orioles over his 11-year career, thinks it unfair that Kaepernick endures more scorn than his former teammate Bruce Miller, who was arrested last week and indicted for aggravated assault, elder abuse, threats, and battery against a 70-year-old man and his 29-year-old son.
“Here’s my thing,’’ the career .279 hitter asserted, “there’s somebody on the 49ers’ team that commits an act like that, accosts a 70-year-old man and his kid, and nobody’s talking about that. But they talk about Kaepernick doing something that he believes in, as his right as an American citizen. People need to talk more about that guy than Kaepernick.”
Jones expressed his frustration with what he sees as a double standard. “I’ve seen Kaepernick called the N-word,’’ Jones said, “just because he’s being sensitive to what has happened to African-Americans in this country. It’s crazy how when people of color speak up, we’re always ridiculed. But when people that are not of color speak up, it’s their right.”
Ironically, Kaepernick was fined in 2014 for calling Lamar Houston the n-word during a contest with the Chicago Bears. Although agreeing to pay $5,512 for the incident, the embattled quarterback denies ever saying it.