In an interview with Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, Zaidi didn't hold back in his criticism of Phillips after the councilman's actions at an anti-mask rally Wednesday: "I mean f--k that guy. You can quote me on that. F--k that guy."
At the rally, Phillips wore a mask at first and then said, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe." Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called Phillips' actions "despicable," as he mimicked the final words of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 while in police custody when Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed against the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The Giants' spring training site is located in Scottsdale, and they are in the process of building a new $50.6 million complex that is expected to provide a major boost to the city's economy.
Zaidi expanded on why he took such issue with what Phillips did, as well as the cause he was representing:
"I think anyone would have difficulty getting beyond the abhorrent insensitivity of his statement. But even if you can get beyond that—the fact that this guy is condoning behavior that put our staff and players at risk? Like, seriously. F--k that guy. I can't believe that that guy is a public official in this country. It's unbelievable."
Given the climate, Zaidi noted that he and other higher-ups in the Giants organization plan to discuss what Phillips did and said, although he didn't divulge whether the team might use its influence to force some changes in Scottsdale: "I know we'll have some internal conversations about that. I don't know how you could watch that and not be angry about it. And angry may be too simple a term. As for what recourse we have, I wouldn't want to speak to that. But I'm f--king pissed about it. And I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that."
The wearing of masks in public places has become commonplace during the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but there was been some push back from some citizens and public officials.
Teams were originally supposed to hold their camps at their spring training sites in Arizona and Florida, but all of them were shut down after multiple teams reported positive COVID-19 test for players and staff members.
Instead, teams will hold their training camps in their home cities as they get ready for a 60-game season that will begin next month.