MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins were scheduled to face the Detroit Tigers Thursday night at Comerica Park, but the game has been postponed in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin earlier this week.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said there were conversations among the players and staff throughout Thursday, and the team held its pregame meeting at 3:45 p.m. It was almost immediately after the meeting started that closer Taylor Rogers stood up and said, "I don't believe we should play today."
Nelson Cruz and Trevor May followed with a few words of their own, and the team followed with a vote. It was unanimous. They were going to join other pro sports teams in protest of Blake's shooting, and the game would be postponed.
"It was a very powerful gathering, the players were in solidarity in the decision. We ultimately formally raised our hands and voted unanimously not to play out of respect for all. I’m very proud of the way it was handled by our group," Baldelli said Thursday afternoon.
It turns out, the Tigers did the same thing. Ron Gardenhire met with Baldelli as they each discovered their team had done the same thing to make a statement for racial equality.
The Twins released a statement on the decision Thursday afternoon.
“The Minnesota Twins remain committed to using our platforms to push for racial justice and equality. Therefore, we fully respect our players for their decision to not play tonight’s game versus the Detroit Tigers. The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, a mere three months after the killing of George Floyd, shows again that real change is necessary and far overdue in our country, and it is our responsibility to continue playing a role in efforts to affect meaningful reform. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and, as full partners with others in the Twin Cities and beyond, we are committed to creating the change we want to see in the world – where everyone is protected, safe and welcome. There is no place for racism, inequality or injustice in our society.”
Blake was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wis., as officers were responding to a domestic incident.
It also comes less than 24 hours after demonstrations and rioting broke out in downtown Minneapolis, not far from Target Field, after a murder suspect fatally shot himsefl on Nicollet Mall. Rumors spread that the suspect was shot by police, but by the time authorities released video that it was an apparent suicide, dozens of downtown businesses had already been damaged and victims of looting.
It's been a tense few months in Minneapolis, ever since the Memorial Day officer-involved death of George Floyd. Baldelli said the recent incidents have initiated conversations about racial equality within the team's COVID-19 adjusted clubhouse.
"It doesn’t feel good to ignore things that you know are wrong. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy to talk about all of these different topics. But when you get on a personal level and you have these kinds of conversations with people that you care about, they mean more to you," Baldelli said. "The fact that we’re even talking about these things means that we’re moving in the direction that we should be moving in."
The Twins lost to the Indians 6-3 Wednesday night and left Cleveland with a half-game lead in the American League Central Division at 20-12. The Twins and Tigers plan to play a doubleheader on Friday to make up for Thursday's postponement.
Baldelli called it "the right thing to do."
"While also knowing how this affects tomorrow exactly, I don’t know if anyone can answer that question. It’s something that a lot of people are thinking about, I know that I don’t have the answer for that. What we decided to do today was most definitely the right thing for our group," Baldelli said.
The Minnesota Lynx had their game against the L.A. Sparks Wednesday night postponed, and the Minnesota Vikings held a team meeting Thursday before opting to hold its afternoon practice at TCO Performance Center.