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Farhan Zaidi on politician who mocked George Floyd, masks: ‘F**k that guy’

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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.

Betts: Baseball didn’t do good job with response to Floyd

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Mookie Betts wasn’t moved by Major League Baseball’s response in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ newest star has a goal of getting the Black community to love baseball as much as he does.

MLB released a statement nine days after the death of Floyd, the Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes on May 25. MLB was the last of the major pro sports leagues that either responded to Floyd’s death or condemned racism.

“I think baseball did not do a good job with that, but voices were heard,” Betts said Monday on a video conference call with reporters. “That’s the main thing, that we get our voices heard to make some changes. I know it’s not all going to be at one time, but a little change here, a change there, we’ll eventually get to where we need to be.”

Betts said his goal of bringing baseball into Black communities is “more of a personal thing.”

The percentage of Blacks in big league baseball remains low and some think the sport has an image problem because it’s too boring.

Betts, the 2018 AL Most Valuable Player with Boston, is one of the game’s biggest stars, but his national profile lags behind that of other sports stars who juggle multiple high-profile endorsements.

“Obviously, MLB can help,” Betts said, “but I think it’s on us, as in the Black players, and kind of make baseball cool because I think that’s where the disconnect is. Us, as Black people, don’t think it’s that much fun so we have to find a way to make it fun for the Black community and get more guys here.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team held a video conference call to discuss issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and social injustice.

“Guys asked questions, guys gave thoughts and opinions, and it was very well received,” said Roberts, the son of a Japanese mother and Black father. “I just don’t want us to lose the traction, the momentum, the conversations that we’ve had over the last month. That’s something that any person of color I think would agree with me, that it just can’t be a footnote.”

Roberts said he’d like to see more Blacks hired throughout baseball.

“To have people that look like you around you, sharing space, having those conversations daily certainly will move the needle ahead,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

NOTES: The Dodgers added right-handers A.J. Ramos and Clayton Beeter to their 60-man player pool. Ramos missed last season and part of 2018 due to labrum surgery. Before getting hurt in 2018, the 33-year-old was 2-2 with a 6.41 ERA and 22 strikeouts for the Mets. Beeter was taken 66th overall in this year’s amateur draft. The 21-year-old out of Texas Tech made four college starts this season, allowing five runs over 21 innings with 33 strikeouts and four walks.

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