Giants Manager Gabe Kapler May Suspend Protest During Anthem for Memorial Day

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 29, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 10: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the San Francisco Giants looks on from the dugout prior to the start of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on May 10, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters last week that he would not be taking the field during the playing of the national anthem until he feels "better about the direction of our country," but added on Sunday that he hasn't decided what he would do on Memorial Day.

"I'm very comfortable taking it day by day," he said. "I think I'll just decide what makes the most sense in the moment. Memorial Day is an important day in our country's history and a special day and a unique day. I find it to be one that deserves special attention."

Kapler's decision not to take the field during the anthem came in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that resulted in 19 children and two teachers being killed.

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“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country” – Gabe Kapler <a href="https://t.co/J1MdlVL3XI">pic.twitter.com/J1MdlVL3XI</a>

Kapler wrote the following, in part, on his personal blog after the Uvalde massacre:

"I'm often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents. We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the 'shining city on the hill.' But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings. We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn."

Kapler also wrote in his blog that he was upset at himself for not taking a knee during the anthem in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde massacre, reminiscent of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of police brutality and discrimination back in 2016.

Kaepernick's gesture became a divisive national issue, and his supporters have argued that the quarterback was blackballed from the NFL after the 2016 season for his political beliefs. He hasn't played in the league since and settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL out of court.

Dave Zirin @EdgeofSports

One reason Kapler will have an easier time is that he's white (duh). Another is the national horror and disgust after Uvalde makes his protest a less controversial lift than taking on structural police violence. And lastly: the US archetype of "hero cop" died this week. It's gone

Kapler, meanwhile, generally received public support around baseball from a number of managers.

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward called his actions "brave." Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo called him "a humanitarian." Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he has "respect" for "people using whatever platforms they have to address" the issue of mass shootings.

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, however, did not feel that the playing of the anthem was the right time for a protest, a similar argument to the one made against Kaepernick in 2016.

"I think he's exactly right to be concerned ... with what's happening in our country," he said Saturday. "He's right there. Where I disagree is the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections."