Rockies Found the Need to Make A Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter
The Rockies had just claimed an 8-7 victory at Arizona, Charlie Blackmon having unloaded a grand slam, and Jeff Hoffman striking out Nick Ahmed to end the game with the bases loaded to claim the first save of his career on Wednesday night.
And the mood in the Rockies clubhouse? Somber.
Yes, they had shown a resurgence on the field by winning the third game in a row against the D-backs, but there was a buyer's remorse over having played the game at all on a night when three other games were postponed in a show of support by the players from those teams to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"(Wednesday) was tough," Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said. "Honestly speaking, mentally I wasn't all there. Realizing the hurt that Matt (Kemp) is going through, that the Black community is going through, was weighing on my mind. That was all I could think about."
There was a sense of relief with the team's decision to not play Thursday.
"After talking to my friends," Story said of Black friends he has had since high school and those he has become acquainted with in pro ball, "the consensus was that it's not too late, that `You guys can still stand with us, and it's going to mean a lot if you do.'"
The Rockies and Diamondbacks, along with 20 other MLB teams, made their statement on Thursday, resulting in the postponement of their games. The six teams that sat out Wednesday played doubleheaders on Thursday along with the Cardinals, who were shutdown earlier this season because of an outbreak of COVID-18, and Pirates.
"We are not just baseball players," said Story. "I am a Christian first and foremost. I believe in Jesus. ... We want to play baseball. That's our driving thing. But we have feelings and thoughts. We feel not playing baseball (Thursday) showed our support for Matt Kemp, (third base coach) Stu Cole, (traveling secretary) Paul Egins and (pitcher) Yency Almonte."
Kemp declined to play in Wednesday's game, but he was in uniform on the bench, supporting his teammates.
“I don’t think they realized what was going on at the time,” Kemp said. “There were just a lot of moving parts. But (Thursday), I had a really good conversation with Trevor [Story] and some of those guys. It was a really good conversation with Trevor. He poured his heart out to me.”
He handled the situation professionally, and after more time to discuss the issues, Kemp had his teammates standing behind him on Thursday.
“My teammates love playing baseball,” he said. “I love playing baseball. This just wasn’t one of those days that we felt that we needed to play a game.”
The game is expected to be made up when the Rockies return to Arizona for a season-ending series Sept. 25-27.
Rockies manager Bud Black expressed respect for the way the players handled the situation.
"It happened to fast (Wednesday), there really wasn't that time to have a legitimate, measured meeting, like we had (Thursday)," Black said. "After reflecting on what happened, we had a team meeting (Thursday) which was emotional, but yet eloquently spoken by a lot of players.
"Some things came out and we decided to not play."
Black was supportive of the players' decision.
"The players understand what is going on with the African-American in our society," said Black. "There is a time for change. I think that is part of the message that all the Major League Baseball players and athletes (of other sports) are trying to say."
Black said things happened to quickly on Wednesday the players did not have time to fully grasp what happened.
"It happened so far we didn't have the time to approach it and have a good conversation," said Black. "Game time approached rapidly and our players thought we should play. Then, upon reflection after the game, there were a lot of phone conversations. There were texts. There were conversations in the clubhouse and those conversations carried over to (Thursday). That process was good."