‘Shut up and play’? not here
Cubs have been given freedom to support BLM, fight injustice
The Cubs have been out in front of Major League Baseball’s efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement and stand with their players and coaches to fight racial injustice and inequality.
On Friday, Cubs players and coaches wore T-shirts that read ‘‘Black Lives Matter’’ during pregame warmups and sent out a statement on Twitter with the signature of every player.
Several private conversations among players, coaches and staff behind the scenes have accompanied the Cubs’ public displays of solidarity, along with their commitment to continue to be part of the change as an organization and as individuals.
‘‘Our conversation was a family conversation; it was very real and genuine since the start of this,’’ outfielder Jason Heyward said. ‘‘One of the first days of summer camp, [Cubs president] Theo [Epstein] wanted to get everyone together and begin this dialogue. We’ve all been genuine, we’ve all been open and we’ve all wanted everyone to speak; we all wanted to hear everyone’s feelings on it.
‘‘We have people on our team right now that have been a part of a certain struggle that is going on in the world and going on in our country that no one wants to miss out on supporting them.’’
Heyward’s voice as one of the Cubs’ two Black players is needed in such conversations, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo knows he also plays a big role as the face of one of the most popular teams in the majors. He is vocal about the Cubs’ desire for lasting change.
‘‘As the leader of this team, I want to hear everyone,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘That was the main thing: to come together. We all did that pretty easily. It was a really growing conversation for every single one of us players . . . . It was a big growing moment for us. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of the decisions we’re making.
‘‘The one common thing is that we’re not making this about politics. We’re making this about what’s right, just like Jason said. We’re standing up for what we believe is right.’’
But even with more players feeling empowered to take a public stand against racism and show support for Black Lives Matter, there are still detractors echoing the ‘‘stick to sports’’ mantra. Epstein has said that sentiment will have no meaning at Wrigley Field.
‘‘We’ve been on record as saying we don’t want our players to stick to sports,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘We want them to be themselves, we encourage them to be engaged citizens and we see them as people and citizens, not just as players.
‘‘ ‘Shut up and play’ is not going to be the way it’s gonna be around here. That’s just the way it is. That’s a fact.’’ ✶
Members of the Cubs and Brewers wear ‘‘Black Lives Matter’’ T-shirts while chatting before the season opener Friday at Wrigley Field.