Players, managers react to Maxwell's protest

September 25th, 2017

A's catcher took a knee during the national anthem on Saturday and Sunday, kneeling with his hand over his heart while facing the American flag prior to Oakland's games against the Rangers.

Maxwell's decision to kneel came after President Donald Trump -- speaking on Friday in Huntsville, Ala., where Maxwell grew up -- made reference to NFL players not standing for the anthem as employees who, as he put it, should be fired by their teams. Maxwell, an African-American raised in a military family, joins Colin Kaepernick and other athletes in attempting to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities by kneeling during the anthem.

On Sunday, some MLB managers and players shared thoughts on the issue.

Indians manager Terry Francona, whose son served two military tours in Afghanistan:

"I just think, if somebody felt strong enough about it, there would be a way as a team to show support, because we do things together. It's easy for me to sit here and say, 'Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,' because I do. But, I also haven't walked in other people's shoes. ... I think politicians would do well to come into a Major League clubhouse, because you have people from everywhere. You talk about diverse backgrounds. Yet, if you have our uniform on, it's 'we.' I think people could learn a lot."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon:

"I understand why the players responded the way they did, after I read the comments. It's just unfortunate we've arrived at this point where it's so easy to have this dialogue between the highest office in the country and everybody else in such a negative way. That's the part that's really disappointing."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, an African-American:

"My father served this country for 30 years. I understand. ... I would just ask every person to be educated. And when you make a point ... really think long and hard and be educated on why you're doing what you're doing. And after that, it's each individual player's decision."

Rays pitcher Chris Archer, an African-American:

"It did take awhile in baseball, but I think it's mainly because the other sports that do that are predominantly black. Our sport isn't, so I think the criticism might be a little bit more harsh. It took somebody really special that had a unique background to take that leap, and the way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectable as possible. Just letting everybody know this has nothing to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members in the military. ... From the ownership level, to the front-office level, to coaching, to the players, you know it's a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he's the right person to do it.

"The way he went about it was perfect. You know, he didn't ambush his teammates, his ownership group. He let everybody know what he was going to do. As long as they approved, he was going to do it. He had the utmost respect, and I think it served its purpose. Hopefully we can just have change going forward. We've been talking about it enough, but just the change of people's outlook on other people and human rights hopefully happens from this."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch:

"Our players, our staff, we're socially aware of what's going on. Obviously, sports brings a lot of things to the forefront of people. I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud to have the rights we have. I know who's fought for those rights and I know they're very meaningful to everybody in our clubhouse and around our sport. The other issues are all very personal for everybody, and I wish everybody would respect the right that we can all have the same rights but yet disagree and work towards a common goal and a better world. The No. 1 thing for me is we've got a lot to do. I've seen that through Hurricane Harvey here, and I've seen a city galvanized and come together and all the work we've done and all the work citizens of Houston have done to help one another. It's happened in Puerto Rico, it's happened in South Florida, Dominican. There's ways to make the world better, and I think we focus on that, we'll be better for it."

Nationals manager Dusty Baker, an African-American and veteran of the Marine Corps Reserves:

"A person should be allowed to do whatever they want to do, but they have to suffer the consequences for those actions. Had I not been a former military or had I been young like those guys, who knows what I would have done?

"At the same time, the bottom line is, there's a problem. There is a problem. We have to adjust and try to figure out how to find a solution to the problem. And I've seen this problem manifest itself many times over the years. We've been talking about the same problems I had when I was 18 or 19 years old, so have we made progress or have we regressed? It's up to us to try to figure out how to come up with a solution."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny:

"I think we have people all across the board with how they feel about this. Unfortunately, what our president said hurt a lot of people, and those are American citizens that have rights, and those are athletes who are going to have their own ideas and thoughts of how they want to defend those rights. I think when we get into these situations, I can never put myself in somebody else's shoes or circumstances and how their life has led to the point of how they think about topics. But when people are offended and they feel that their rights are being infringed upon, in this country we have a voice. I think that's what we're seeing now.

"I have two grandfathers who were both in World War II, and I think about them often, two of the greatest men I've ever met. It's an incredible generation, and I would hate to do anything to disrespect them. And I believe our ownership would say the same thing. I believe they appreciate the fact that our guys do respectfully stand out there for our anthem and for our flag. But this is a different issue. The thing about this one is that it doesn't really seem to be an issue about patriotism.

"I'll continue to salute the flag with my hand over my heart because I believe in the bigger picture of what our country stands for. I also understand, too, that this is a tough topic for a lot of people, and they need to respond how they feel best. This has caused an issue in our country and in sports because athletes have a voice."

Red Sox manager John Farrell:

"Baseball more than any other sport is clearly a melting pot, and I say that with all due respect. We have players from all different walks, there's six countries represented in the clubhouse. There's socioeconomic backgrounds that are so diverse, and yet we come together because of one thing and that is a great game, and we respect their backgrounds, we respect their opinions. I think it makes us a better team and a more wholesome team because of the differences that we have."

Mets manager Terry Collins:

"I'm not a big political guy, not by a big stretch of the imagination, but I've been blessed enough to travel the world and I respect our country immensely. We do have rights here, which other places don't. I respect that, also. But I'm proud of my guys that they go line up every night, and stand and face the flag."

A's manager Bob Melvin:

"[Maxwell] couldn't have handled the communication leading into that better than he did. I think the last thing everybody wanted was to be surprised by something like that, because we all know we're going to be asked questions about it. Not only did he communicate what he was going to do, but he went into the reasons for it."

A's teammate , who has placed a hand on Maxwell's shoulder while he has knelt:

"I think it's a small step forward, but I think we're starting to move in the right direction as a country when it comes to fighting for what's right."