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Dusty Baker doesn’t think athletes should “stick to sports”

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Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a terrific column up in which he investigates the latest intersection of sports and politics as a result of players kneeling for the national anthem. Those players, of course, have joined Colin Kaepernick’s crusade to bring attention to the inequality people of color deal with when interacting with law enforcement.

Baker was a reservist in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1974, Nesbitt notes, but he didn’t tell his players they shouldn’t protest by kneeling for the anthem. Baker said, “Sports can’t be silent. They want you to be silent, but this is a microcosm of our whole society. It’s more of a microcosm than probably any other occupation in the world. How many different jobs have as many Latin Americans, blacks, whites, Europeans, Asians — American and from Asia — Africans. You understand? So how can it be separate?”

Baker continued, “These guys have ideas. They’ve all been raised differently. They’ve got some Republicans in [the clubhouse]. They’ve got some Democrats. They have some Trump supporters. They have some Hillary Clinton supporters. … So how can it be separate? They’re actually like the fans themselves, but they’ve just got a baseball uniform on, and you go watch them play.”

Baker also discussed that some things may seem better now than they were when he was younger, but other things have gotten worse. “There was anti-Vietnam. There was riots. There was segregation. There were more things then than there are now. Things have improved in many ways, but they’ve regressed in many other ways. We have a problem. Anybody who doesn’t think we have a problem, they need to look around and ask the young people. And we do have a problem.”

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.