Sam Coonrod was alone on Thursday night. Stood up for his beliefs. Withstood MLB’s renewed focus on contemporary racing issues in the United States.
That reads like confirmation of what Coonrod has done, doesn’t it? It’s not, so I’m sorry I wasn’t as crystal clear as Coonrod was about where he stands in baseball’s social justice efforts.
Which, as he showed Thursday, is on the other side of many people in sports.
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The sophomore pitcher refused to bend the knee prior to his team’s season opener vs. the rival Dodgers. He towered over the rest of the uniformed personnel for the national anthem while demonstrating for racial justice and against police brutality.
A few remained on the ground for the national anthem, most notably Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. Some of Coonrod’s friends did the same.
Coonrod stood upright all the time.
After the game, losing 8-1 Giants in which he didn’t pitch, Coonrod gave reporters three explanations why he was stuck on the foul line:
1. Not enough advance notice. He said he didn’t have enough time to discuss it with his teammates.
2. His Christian faith, which he said prohibits him from kneeling before anything (or anyone else) other than God and Jesus. “I feel like if I kneel I’d be a hypocrite. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I didn’t mean anyone had a bad will, “Coonrod said, per Alex Pavlovic from NBC Sports Bay Area. He said he doesn’t get mad at people who kneel.
3. His caution for Black Lives Matter. “I just can’t get in with a few things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter,” he said (again, per Pavlovic). “How do they lean towards Marxism and have said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get in on that. “
The first statement should be discarded. Coonrod showed that no lead time would have changed his actions. He knew what was coming and was still determined. At least give him credit for that. Would he have retired to the clubhouse or the bullpen if he had had a few more hours to think about it? Seems questionable.
Coonrod may be better on his feet if he bases his point of view on religious grounds. But it is still hard to see how taking a standpoint by standing alone could make a two-faced believer.
When Coonrod kneels only before God, he can pray silently to end police abuse and ill-treatment of people based on skin color assumptions. He could also be for it. “I don’t think kneeling is appropriate in the context of secular protests; I will show my solidarity by kneeling for the right reasons, ”he might say.
That would keep Coonrod from looking like a hypocrite when it comes to BLM. He agrees with the easy idea that people marching under his flag are anti-American anarchists backed by shadowy traitors. He uses his faith as a shield on one of his faces – the charitable one. When he kneels, he gives his tacit approval to the movement. It is not clear whether he wore the “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts distributed to uniformed personnel.
Bruce Maxwell notes all this. Ian Desmond is too. Andrew McCutchen, the man who came up with the idea of the black ribbon, may take a few notes himself.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Friday (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) that Coonrod will address his teammates, but it is not known if the pitcher has already spoken to outfielder Jaylin Davis, the team’s only black American player and a social justice attorney.
Coonrod said that people should respect his position. They absolutely should, if it’s deserved. The best way he can do that is to be authentic about his belief on BLM.
He has to say when he gets a chance that black lives matter, but cannot support the entire agenda of the organization, and he needs to be more specific about why. Saying “a few things I’ve read” is lazy and inconclusive.
Otherwise, bringing his religion into it is a convenient solution. He must carry his faith as a cross that he wants to carry. He shouldn’t be hiding behind it.