Spring training is in full swing, with plenty of news tweets, reports, videos, and other fun news out of MLB. It’s really too bad that more of the games aren’t televised, but at least we have the radio broadcasts via MLB.com and the local airwaves for every game.
There’s been plenty of on-field and off-field stories to track, what with the baseballs being juiced to the core (literally!) and MLB making stuff up on the fly about their new pace-of-play initiative. I personally like the home run ball, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more line drives in the gap and infield singles to generate some actual defensive plays. There’s plenty of baseball stuff to keep us busy, for sure.
But then I saw this…
Theo was asked a question and answered it. What’s the big deal? The “stick to sports” thing is stupid
— World Series Dreaming (@WSDreaming_Cubs) March 1, 2018
I was teaching at the time, but got a bit confused because I must have missed a radio interview somewhere. It seems that Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was indeed asked a question, and being the smart and educated guy that he is, he had an answer:
“Especially on an issue like that where you see such a tremendous disparity between the public opinion on the issue of gun laws and the behavior of elected officials, there’s a huge divide there, and it’s really difficult to understand why,” Epstein said. “Obviously, it comes down to money and influence and lobbying. You know, that’s not what this democracy is founded on. I think in helping to explain and overcome that divide, it takes a lot of people speaking out. I certainly welcome what Anthony did.”
You can read the article for more of what Epstein said, but overall, he was supportive of what Anthony Rizzo did for his hometown after the really stupid thing that should never have been allowed to happen. Epstein also conceded that not every fan will agree with Rizzo’s opinions, or anyone else’s for that matter (kinda like how most of us don’t agree with, say, Curt Schilling‘s opinions). Goodness knows whenever we post something even remotely relevant to political matters, people pounce on us.
I feel like most of the Cubs players are well-spoken, and are big enough boys that they can take care of themselves when they want to say something that might cause some pushback. Freedom of speech is a very important, and probably the most important, right that I believe is well exercised by many people in our society, and impressively so by the youths that were affected by the tragedy. Over the past week or so, the movement has snowballed into something that is not as likely to lose momentum like every other mass shooting, in which multiple corporations have distanced themselves from pro-gun lobbyists, and even changed their gun sale policies.
Anthony Rizzo did not have to say anything too controversial in my view. He spoke from the heart, and did what he could to support his community as he’s always done. Unfortunately, it seemed like some people thought he may have been out of line when he gave his speech at the vigil. Here’s what he actually said:
“To be very clear, I did not say the word ‘gun’ one time in my message,” Rizzo said, referring to a speech he gave at a vigil his high school. “So anyone out there who wrote ‘gun control,’ saying I called for ‘gun control,’ I think, is very irresponsible. I did not say that once.
“I don’t know what needs to be done. I don’t know enough about it. I know there’s a lot of shootings. I know they’re done with a specific make. But I don’t know what needs to be done.”
All of that seems fair. Rizzo isn’t an expert on these matters. I doubt I am, either. But when he can bring some needed attention to the topic at hand, a topic that most of us realize needs to be addressed, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. And it’s nice to know that his boss will support him, and others, in doing so.
It is easy to stay on the sidelines, or to tell someone to shut up. But it takes a good amount of courage to speak up for one’s values, and it seems a valuable skill to listen and critically analyze what people are saying, too. Having athletes use their platforms constructively is good for society, particularly when there is a disproportionate amount of focus on them anyway.