WASHINGTON -- An emotional Dave Martinez removed his cap and looked directly into the camera during his postgame Zoom call.
On Wednesday evening, the Nationals lost to the Phillies, 3-2, at Nats Park. Hours earlier, the Milwaukee Bucks had refused to play in Game 5 of their NBA playoffs matchup against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
When the Nats went back into the clubhouse, there had been a social justice movement taking place in professional sports while they were on the field.
“We didn’t hear anything, we were getting ready for the game as normal. I just now started reading what was happening,” Martinez said. “I would say this, though: I’m proud of the NBA, proud of all the people who stand for justice. You know the way I feel about stuff. It’s horrible. We need change. We’re people. We’ve got to come up with some kind of conclusion, because this is bad. So I’m going to talk to the players. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
“But I get it. I understand. I tip my hat off to all those guys.”
After the Phils-Nats game got underway at 6:05 p.m. ET, teams around Major League Baseball opted not to play in solidarity. Contests between the Reds-Brewers, Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Giants were postponed.
“I think it brings awareness to the situation,” Nationals infielder Howie Kendrick said. “This is just a small piece of that. But I think, at the end of the day, that we still have a long ways to go. We’ve come a long ways, but being a Black man in America, you never want to see any injustice toward someone of your color. Having kids, I want my kids to grow up in a better world.
“I think one of the coolest things I’ve seen through all of this is that white, Black, Asian, [Latino] -- everybody is showing support for everybody. I think, in a time where you never thought you would have seen that in this country -- and even around the world -- I think that’s really cool for everybody to show support and to recognize that there really needs to be a change. But I think it’s really up to us as individuals to make the effort.”
The video board at Nationals Park changed from a view of the field to three words in capitalized letters immediately following the game: “Justice Equality Now."
“People have got to understand, we’re human beings as well,” Martinez said. “We feel for everybody. We’re not just athletes -- we’re first people. We understand what’s going on. If we’ve got a chance to make a change or try to change something, we’re going to do it.”
He added: “We’ll stick together through this, thick and thin.”