On Wednesday a member of the Scottsdale, Arizona City Council named Guy Phillips appeared at “an anti-mask rally.” Which, despite Arizona now experiencing the worst COVID-19 outbreak on the planet, is somehow a thing.
Philips wore a black mask as he walked up to the microphone, pretended he was gasping for air and said, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” before ripping off the mask and rolling his eyes and saying “insanity.”
“I can’t breathe,” of course, were the last words of George Floyd before he was killed by Minneapolis police, sparking nationwide outrage and unrest. Which is to say that, in one brief moment, a member of the Scottsdale, Arizona City Council mocked both the racist murder of a Black man and dismissed the dangers of a pandemic which has killed well over 100,000 Americans in the past few months.
The San Francisco Giants train in Scottsdale, Arizona, and play in a city-owned stadium, which means that the club and the city which Philips serves have a pretty significant relationship. Normally when a pro sports team and a government have a significant relationship like that, everyone plays nice and gets along for the sake of that relationship. Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi, however, was not concerned about that when he spoke to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic last night:
“I mean, f**k that guy. You can quote me on that. F**k that guy . . . the fact that this guy is condoning behavior that put our staff and players at risk? Like, seriously. F**k that guy. I can’t believe that that guy is a public official in this country. It’s unbelievable.”
As Baggarly notes, Zaidi’s comments came after Phillips purported to apologize for his comments at the rally. The apology was one of those completely disingenuous ones, however, in which he claimed he “had no intention of disrespecting anybody.” Which is either a bald-faced lie or an admission of breathtaking idiocy that shoots past “implausible” at about a million miles an hour.
It’s hard to blame Zaidi for his anger. He and the Giants have players and staff currently living and working out in the city and one of its council members is not only actively advocating for people to do things that make it more likely for them to be harmed, but is doing it while mocking a murder victim. Which makes it understandable that Zaidi dismissed the apology and suggested that the matter is not over. The Giants, after all, are pretty important to Scottsdale. Phone calls can be made.
Whatever comes of this, good for Zaidi for not doing what high-ranking baseball executives tend to do and stay away from what some would characterize as “controversial” topics but which, in reality, are simply moral stands. Would that we had more of that sort of thing from the Lords of Baseball.