Desmond, in a nine-slide carousel on Instagram, explained that due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive Black Lives Matter movement happening across the country, he isn’t needed out on a baseball field.
He’s needed at home with his family.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote on the final slide. “But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving baseball behind for the year. I’ll be right here, at my old Little League, and I’m working with everyone involved to make sure we get Sarasota Youth Baseball back on track. It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much. So, I am.
“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their dad.”
Desmond’s announcement was part of a long story about his time playing youth baseball in Sarasota, Florida — something he’s vowed to help fix — and the intense racism he’s faced as a biracial man growing up in the United States.
He also touched on the lack of diversity in Major League Baseball, as well as cheating, sexism, homophobia and labor disputes surrounding the sport.
“Think about it,” he wrote. “Right now in baseball we’ve got a labor war. We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. less than eight percent Black players. No Black majority team owners.
“Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it.
“If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now.”
Desmond is just the latest player to opt-out of MLB’s 60-game season. Veteran Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake was the first to opt-out on Monday, and was quickly joined by Washington Nationals stars Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman.
Desmond, 34, is in the fourth year of his five-year, $70 million deal with the Rockies. Players are due to report to camp in Denver on Wednesday.
There were more than 2.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 126,000 deaths attributed to it. Colorado had more than 32,000 cases, the overwhelming majority of which were in the Denver area.
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