The Rays are set to start their 2020 campaign Friday at Tropicana Field, but it’s clear they won’t follow the “stick to sports” mantra as MLB teams return to action.
Ahead of its Opening Day matchup with the Blue Jays, Tampa Bay tweeted that “it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor” from the verified team Twitter account. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot and killed by three Louisville police offers while they executed a no-knock warrant as part of a drug investigation on March 13.
Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2020
Additionally, the Rays tweeted out “systemic racism is real” with a timeline of American slavery and segregation. Tampa Bay has pledged $ 100,000 to multiple local groups fighting for racial equality, including CDC of Tampa, the Pinellas County Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Remembrance Project, the NAACP of Hillsborough County and a Pinellas program focused on helping ex-offenders rejoin the community.
“The Tampa Bay Rays, and our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, understand words are not enough,” a team statement reads above the Rays’ social justice resource guide. “It is our responsibility to help fight systemic racism. Utilizing our platform, we seek to amplify the important, ongoing work being done by those on the front lines of this effort.”
Tampa Bay’s tweets are just the latest example of MLB players and teams finding their voices on social justice issues.
Ahead of Thursday’s season opener, all Nationals and Yankees players took a knee before (but not during) the national anthem and held a piece of black cloth as a show of solidarity.
The Nationals and Yankees all knelt (every single player) for a moment before the anthem, but no one knelt while the anthem was played. pic.twitter.com/RKTUtSOmpv
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) July 23, 2020
All Giants and Dodgers players except San Francisco relief pitcher Sam Coonrod knelt before the national anthem as well Thursday night, but Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts was the only Los Angeles player who knelt during the national anthem prior to their game.
“I think kneeling is definitely something that shows we need change, but also I have to put some action into play as far as away from MLB,” Betts said (via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez). “That’s my primary goal. Today was just to unify both sides and just to show that we are here for change.”