Small group of protesters take credit for Fenway banner

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As we wrote last night, during the fourth inning of Wednesday night’s game between the Athletics and Red Sox, some people sitting behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park unfurled a black banner with white text that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball.” The banner was confiscated and the fans were kicked out of the park.

As we said, we suspected it was an anti-racism banner, even if it was a rather ham-fisted sentiment. That was confirmed by Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com last night, who spoke to one of the members of the group of five who were involved in the unfurling of the banner:

“There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area,” the group member said by phone. “Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of].

“But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”

Last night on Twitter, an account called “Boston Antifa” — which claims to be part of the larger Antifa movementattempted to take responsibility for the banner, saying that Major League Baseball is a racist organization and demanding that MLB “be dissolved.” The person Drellich spoke to however said that was “ridiculous,” adding, “The five of us are in no way associated with Antifa nor did Antifa Boston have anything to do with the action.” Drellich notes that, as proof, they provided an image of the banner when it was being unfurled ahead of the demonstration, as a test. UPDATE: At least one website is claiming that “Boston Antifa” is a group of right wing trolls, trying to make the Antifa movement look bad. Who knows? All we know is that they didn’t do the banner. God, 2017 is exhausting.

Good thing it wasn’t really them, as Rob Manfred would have had no choice but to dissolve MLB under their immense and persuasive pressure and then all of us would be in a bad spot.

In any event. the entire episode appeared to have played out pretty uneventfully. The guys unfurled their banner and, as they expected to be, were kicked out of the park. Drellich reports that the ejection was orderly and polite on all sides. Major League Baseball has not been dissolved. I guess we’re all good here.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.