Cutch: Jackie's fight has come 'full circle'

August 28th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Every year, it seems is asked the same questions about Jackie Robinson Day. Every year, he offers similar answers, even though those answers mean more to him than anything else he will be asked that day.

McCutchen loves Jackie Robinson Day. He loves honoring him, and he loves wearing his No. 42 jersey.

McCutchen was asked different questions on Friday, when Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. The day meant more to him, too. The Phillies postponed Thursday’s game against the Nationals in Washington to refocus the country’s attention on police brutality and social injustice following Sunday’s shooting of a Black man by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer. Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back. He survived, but he is paralyzed from the waist down. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25 sparked a movement that is not going away.

“I feel like Jackie Robinson Day, this time, feels a little different than times before,” McCutchen said Friday afternoon. “We’re not only celebrating Jackie Robinson Day as the person he was, breaking the color barrier in ’47, really being the start of the whole civil rights movement, because that was really the first time where there was some integration in this nation. But the things that he did outside the game, he was very active within the civil rights movement. He always stood for what he believed in.

“I feel like it’s come full circle, and ultimately, I feel like that’s what we’re doing right now.”

McCutchen stood for what he believed during the Phillies’ players-only meeting Thursday in their hotel outside Washington, D.C. Some players did not want to play that night following the shooting of Blake. Six baseball teams on Wednesday decided not to play. The NBA, WNBA and MLS postponed their games, too.

“It was very moving for us to come together as a unit and reach an agreement on behalf of something that we all believed in,” McCutchen said. “On top of that, it created opportunity and opened windows and doors to have extensive talks about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, about what’s next, about everything that has transpired within that 24-48 hours throughout sports and specifically baseball.

“I definitely spoke up on behalf of how I felt, about everything that has happened within our nation. I was emotional myself, just because of us, collectively as a group, talking amongst each other on the issues that we felt were important to us outside of the game of baseball. For me, emotionally, it was very moving. I was beside myself, not necessarily knowing where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do or turn. It led to us realizing that are some things that are bigger than the game. That’s when we came together and decided not to play. We all wanted to be on the same page.”

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Now, not playing one game is not going to change everything. But it also doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do.

“We can’t satisfy the world,” McCutchen said. “I’m not here personally to satisfy the world. I’m just trying to do what’s right. And it’s not about being right, it’s doing what’s right. It’s OK to not always have the answers. People want to know what’s next. It’s OK not to know what’s next. But what’s not OK is not caring what’s next.”

Major League Baseball chose to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28 for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson Family attended, and it also is the date in '45 when Robinson and Branch Rickey met to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In conjunction with the celebration, MLB announced a partnership extension with the JRF Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards. The extension is through 2023 and includes a $3.5 million commitment on behalf of MLB.

Extra bases

• Right-hander David Robertson had a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He hoped to rejoin the bullpen in September, but he has stopped throwing and a 2020 return is unlikely.

• Left-hander Ranger Suárez continues to progress after missing time this summer because of COVID-19. He threw well on Thursday, and he could be activated from the injured list in the near future.

• Outfielder Jay Bruce is playing at the team’s alternate training site in Allentown, Pa. He is on the 10-day injured list with a strained left quadriceps. He can be activated as early as Monday.

• Phillies manager Joe Girardi said right-handers Zach Eflin and Jake Arrieta will pitch Saturday and Sunday against the Braves, respectively. Righty Spencer Howard will pitch Monday night against the Nationals.