Hochman: Cards' Flaherty, Advocate for Social Change, Says Some MLB Players Might Kneel for Anthem

By Hochman, Benjamin | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 9, 2020 | Go to article overview

Hochman: Cards' Flaherty, Advocate for Social Change, Says Some MLB Players Might Kneel for Anthem


Hochman, Benjamin, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


In St. Louis, we bask in baseball, the thinking person's game.

Well, in 2020, baseball is sure going to make you think.

It might make you uncomfortable. It might enlighten you. It might tick you off. It make might you click the game off. But baseball in 2020, Jack Flaherty promises, is going to be different than other years … and that has nothing to do with the pandemic.

Your favorite sport will not be sticking to sports. In a game known for its acronyms, baseball has a new one: BLM.

"Is there a possibility that there will be baseball players that don't stand for the anthem?" the Cardinals ace Flaherty said Wednesday night. "I'd say absolutely. We kind of wish that we had been there for Bruce (Maxwell in 2017) and had his back and had been able to come together better back then, the way that we are now."

The Oakland A's catcher Maxwell, protesting racial injustices in our country, remains the only Major League Baseball player to kneel for the national anthem. The only guy. That says so much of where the game once was -- and how the game once was, generations ago, decades ago and even just a few years ago. But in 2020, Flaherty and others are going to change the game. He said "stuff is in the works" in regards to promoting awareness of racial injustices in our country.

"Sports is coming back slowly but surely," said Flaherty, who was fourth in the 2019 Cy Young voting, "but it's not meant to be a distraction, it's not meant to deter away from everything that has gone on over the past couple weeks, the protests that went on. It's trying to use sports and keep the conversation going."

And that's the whole point. For every one of us to take a moment to hear what these athletes are saying. Why they're saying it. Why they're taking risks to take these stands.

"One of the biggest things you can do is to listen," said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, the reigning manager of the year in the National League. "And in general, our society hasn't listened as well as it should have."

Like so many athletes, and so many Americans, the killing of George Floyd affected Flaherty in a profound way. The 24-year-old has since posted numerous photos and messages on Instagram and Twitter, advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Flaherty made his MLB debut on Sept. 1, 2017, 22 days before Maxwell took a knee.

"All props to Bruce for what he did," Flaherty said, "and standing up for what is right."

Baseball is, of course, steeped in tradition. The game is played a certain way, as they might say. And players know their place in the clubhouse, their place in the game's culture. …

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