Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
SAN DIEGO — One last bit of unfinished business from last night’s All-Star Game involves an announcement from Major League Baseball that, while it won’t likely change the way we refer to a batting championship, was a nice gesture all the same.
Before the game, Major League Baseball announced that each league’s batting championships have been named in honor of a great-hitting Hall of Famer: Tony Gwynn in the National League and Rod Carew in the American League. Carew was on hand for the announcement at the ballpark last night. It was great to see him given his recent health problems. The late Gwynn was represented by his family.
Gwynn was a career .338 hitter who was the last man to seriously challenge .400, batting .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He is tied with Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the most batting titles in NL history. Carew was a seven-time American League batting champion who was a lifetime .328 hitter. He hit .300 in 15 consecutive seasons (1969-83). Between 1972-1978, he won six batting crowns in seven years.
No, it’s not likely people will routinely say things like “Hey, Jose Altuve won the Carew Award!” But it’s a nice gesture all the same. The crowd at Petco cheered Carew loudly last night and cheered the calling of Gwynn’s name wildly. It was a nice moment.
SAN DIEGO — You can bet that the folks at Major League Baseball are not gonna dig this: one of the singers of the group, The Tenors, who sang the Canadian National Anthem held up a handwritten sign that read “All Lives Matter” during the song. He likewise altered one of the lines of the song to say “all lives matter.” Specifically, they changed the line which goes “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free” to “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.”
This may not seem terribly controversial to some, but in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that has risen over the past few years, “All Lives Matter” has come to be seen as a reactionary response which fundamentally misunderstands — often intentionally — the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement. And is used to belittle and marginalize the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The phrase “black lives matter” does not mean that “black lives matter more than any other lives.” If it did, sure, maybe “All Lives Matter” would be a reasonable response. But “Black Lives Matter” is a response to a society and, particularly, police, which treat blacks as lesser persons and who do not face repercussions for harming and in some cases killing black people through excessive force. It’s “black lives matter too” — a necessary statement, sadly — not “black lives matter more.”
If that doesn’t register with you, let’s try it this way:
The fact is, black people’s lives are regrettably, compared to other people’s lives, undervalued in the United States. My hope is that this Canadian National Anthem singer does not fully understand that dynamic here and, rather, he was trying to offer a message of love and inclusion, however ignorantly he was doing so. My hope is that he was not adulterating his own country’s national anthem in an effort to make some reactionary political point at the All-Star Game. But I presume we’ll hear more about that soon.
UPDATE: Following an outcry on social media, particularly in Canada, where the changing of the words to the anthem were not well received, the Tenors released a statement:
SAN DIEGO — We’ve had a couple of days of hype, but now we get an actual baseball game. At least insofar as you can call the All-Star Game real baseball. It certainly has its challenges in this regard, focused mostly on player usage, but unlike the other sports’ All-Star games, each individual interaction here — pitcher vs. batter and the reaction of defenders — is good and true. Unless of course Jose Fernandez has anything to say about it.
Before the game gets started there will still be some pomp circumstance and the like. A brief rundown:
- The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Padres (team) Hall of Famer and 1976 National League Cy Young Award Winner Randy Jones. Jones started for the National League in the 1976 All-Star Game and is a local institution here in San Diego;
- The U.S. National Anthem will be performed by pop star Rachel Platten. The Tenors will perform the Canadian National Anthem. We will have no Dominican Republic or Venezuelan National Anthem, but we really should;
- The giant flag will be held by 275 Marines. Unlike past displays of military appreciation and patriotic fervor at other ballparks, the military also happens to be the primary local industry here in San Diego, so it’s particularly appropriate here. We’ll also get a flyover of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
- The official game ball will be delivered by Padres (team) Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. He’ll be a Baseball Hall of Famer one day too.
- 2015-2016 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year Whitney Stewart will yell “Play Ball!” prior to the game.
As a reminder, here are the lineups:
American League Lineup
1. Jose Altuve 2b
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Manny Machado 3B
4. David Ortiz DH
5. Xander Bogaerts SS
6. Eric Hosmer 1B
7. Mookie Betts RF
8. Salvador Perez C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. LF
Chris Sale of the White Sox gets the start.
National League Lineup:
1. Ben Zobrist 2B
2. Bryce Harper RF
3. Kris Bryant 3B
4. Wil Myers DH
5. Buster Posey C
6. Anthony Rizzo 1B
7. Marcell Ozuna CF
8. Carlos Gonzalez LF
9. Addison Russell SS
Johnny Cueto of the Giants is the starter.
As far as predictions go, eh, who knows? How do you predict this stuff? But let’s try:
Bill: National League 5, American League 3
Craig: American League 6, National League 4
Bill: Stephen Vogt racks up 10 passed balls on Steven Wright‘s knuckleball
Craig: David Ortiz is named MVP of the game, even if he goes 0-for-3 and falls asleep during the game. Some things are pre-ordained.
Finally, go to NBC Sports’ Facebook page to go see my Livestream video from before the game here. Go there after the top of the fifth inning for a second livestream I’ll be doing from here at Petco during the game.