Adam Jones just opened up a Pandora's Box, and he's not afraid to do it.
In an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, Jones, the star outfielder of the Baltimore Orioles, said that Kaepernick's protest during the National Anthem hasn't carried over to Major League Baseball as of yet because of the backlash that would ensue. And because it's "a white man's sport." Said Jones:
We already have two strikes against us already, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us.
Baseball is a white man’s sport.
Based upon the current makeup of the League, you could say that Jones is correct. African American players make up just 8% of the League, with (according to the article) "only 69 African-Americans on the opening-day rosters and disabled lists this season." In comparison, the NFL (68%) and NBA (74%) have much higher compositions of African American players, thereby giving the "Kaepernick movement" more potential support among players, which was evident during the NFL's Kickoff Weekend. Another reason could be the actual number of MLB regular season games, where a player would potential have to engage in the protest over 162 games and, possibly, during the seventh inning when "God Bless America" is played. This is not excuse, but something that one must consider.
But no matter what other elements are involved, Jones' initial response as to why the protest hasn't made it to the diamond is the most telling. But does he agree with Kapernick's actions?
He believes in what he believes in,’’ Jones says of Kaepernick, “and as a man of faith, as an American who has rights, who am I to say he’s wrong?
Kaepernick is not disrespecting the military. He’s not disrespecting people who they’re fighting. What he’s doing is showing that he doesn’t like the social injustice that the flag represents. Look, I know a lot of people who don’t even know the words to the national anthem. You know how many times I see people stand up for the national anthem and not pay attention. They stand because they’re told to stand. That’s the problem. Just don’t do something because you’re told to do something.
Do it because you understand the meaning behind it and the sacrifice behind it.
Jones is sure to receive a lot of hate in response to his words, but it's something he's not fearful of nor does he shy away from. He has a voice and has proven that he plans to use it when he needs to. If others can, why can't he? He addressed the haters and ignorance behind feelings geared towards athletes, especially Black athletes, that they need to just shut up and play.
“I’ve seen Kaepernick called the N-word,’’ Jones said, “just because he’s being sensitive to what has happened to African-Americans in this country. It’s crazy how when people of color speak up, we’re always ridiculed. But when people that are not of color speak up, it’s their right. The First Amendment says we have freedom of expression. We’re supposed to be so free, so free. But any time anybody of color speaks up in the United States, for some odd reason, they always get the raw end of the deal. It sucks.
“At the end of the day, black men have fought for this right. Indians have fought for this right. White people fought for this right. Mexicans have fought for this right. Japanese have fought this for this right. The United States was not just made up of one race.
“So let’s just not say that in America, only one person can say something. We all have input because America has always been a country that has united everybody.’’
And don't dare come at him with the argument that because pro athletes make a lot of money that they should refrain from commenting and just cash checks.
“The outside world doesn’t really respect athletes,’’ Jones says, “unless they talk about what they want them to talk about. Society doesn’t think we deserve the right to have an opinion on social issues. “We make a lot of money, so we just have to talk baseball, talk football. But most athletes, especially if you’re tenured in your sport, you’re educated on life, and on more things than most people on the outside. But because Donald Trump is a billionaire, he can say whatever he wants, because he’s older and has more money?
“And when Kaepernick does something, or says something, he’s ridiculed. Why is that?"
So in the sport where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, a sport which struggles to attract African American players nearly 60 years later, will we witness Kaepernick's movement take place on the diamond? Will players, coaches and teams actually be brave enough to take a stand?
"We will see" said Jones.
And if/when that happens, we'll see what baseball is really made of.