The first game of baseball’s return didn’t end with a walk-off hit, with a high-pressure strikeout, or with any players on the Nationals Park field. That would have been far too off-brand for 2020.
Instead, on a rain-soaked Thursday in Washington, the final pitch was thrown by Max Scherzer with one out in the sixth before both teams ran for cover. The Yankees won 4-1 as the game was called due to inclement weather.
It took months of labor negotiations and continued health scares to begin a 60-game season during the novel coronavirus pandemic. So of course, on a night that was supposed to finally feature the sport, only the actual game was washed away.
But something far more important took place on the field Thursday night.
At 6:35 p.m., the big screen showed a video acknowledging front-line health care workers. At 6:45, a World Series flag was raised beyond center field while the Nationals lightly clapped. And at 6:55 a powerful Black Lives Matter demonstration took place.
“Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right! Today we stand as men from 25 nations on 6 continents. Today, we are one.”
Those were the words that echoed through Nationals Park prior to the playing of the National Anthem. Both the Yankees and Nationals kneeled together, showing a sign of unity.
Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right!
Today we stand as men from 25 nations on 6 continents.
Today, we are one. pic.twitter.com/vKUGdRfwgQ
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2020
But that message and demonstration didn’t stop in D.C. On the other coast, at Dodgers Stadium, bitter rivals, came together and knelt together for something bigger than the game.
New Dodger OF Mookie Betts took his demonstration to another level. He remained on one knee as the National Anthem played. He wasn’t the only one to do so. Giants Manager Gabe Kapler, and 8 of his players including Mike Yastrzemski, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence remained on one knee.
As Betts demonstrated, his teammates, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy placed their hands on his shoulders.
Mookie Betts takes a knee during the National Anthem, supported by teammates Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. pic.twitter.com/OJyZ84hMLV
— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2020
The other 26 MLB teams are expected to participate as MLB plans to raise awareness for racial injustice throughout its opening weekend. What remains to be seen is if players will continue with the demonstration after this weekend which was mutually agreed upon by teams and league offices.