White Sox agree with decision to postpone O's opener
BALTIMORE -- Just a few hours after White Sox players huddled around clubhouse televisions, watching the Freddie Gray protests move through Baltimore, police officers were quickly escorting them by foot back to their hotel, a few blocks from Camden Yards.
With the threat of protests -- and potential civil unrest -- near the stadium, the Orioles postponed Monday night's game after consulting with the Baltimore City Police Department. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a citywide curfew from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. starting on Tuesday and running for the rest of the week.
The curfew comes while the city of Baltimore is experiencing civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died on April 19 from injuries allegedly suffered while in police custody. It is unknown how the curfew will affect the rest of the series, with 6:05 p.m. CT games scheduled for both Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We feel like we made the decision that would provide us the greatest possible security in terms of protecting the fans, players, the umpires, everybody involved in the game," said Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who had just met with the White Sox players on a scheduled visit prior to the announcement that the game would be postponed.
"We're looking at every possible alternative in terms of completing the schedule in a timely way and making sure the games are played in a security situation that's safe for the fans," he said. "We're going to look at every alternative at this point."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before the announcement that the team was ready to leave if the protests became dangerous.
All but two gates at Camden Yards remained open as violence continued to escalate and move closer to the stadium, prompting helicopters and sirens to hover around the ballpark's premises. Media were told to leave the stadium as quickly as possible.
"Obviously we completely understand," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's an important decision to err on the side of caution, not play tonight, and we're working with MLB and the Orioles to try to find the safest and most effective way to reschedule tonight and figure out what to do with the rest of the series."
As players quickly gathered their things and headed toward the exit, center fielder Adam Eaton spoke on behalf of the team, admitting the unrest close by made it difficult to concentrate on baseball as the game's start time neared.
"It's definitely a distraction and something we don't want to deal with," Eaton said. "We don't want to put anybody in danger, so I think it was the best of everyone's perspective to cancel the game and hopefully the police officers and officials can get everything under control."
There is no word yet, as indicated by Manfred, as to how the rest of the series will be handled or rescheduled in light of Baltimore's fluid situation.
"We're flexible. We're here," Hahn said. "When they feel it's safe and prudent and the right thing to play a baseball game, we'll be here and ready to play."
This is not the first time MLB games have been postponed because of civil unrest. The Orioles and Tigers had a game postponed on July 25, 1967, because of riots in Detroit, and the final two games of the series were played in Baltimore. In 1992, the Dodgers had four home games postponed following the Rodney King verdict.