Tigers-Twins game postponed amid racial unrest; Al Avila says he’d ‘support’ boycott

Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers and Minnesota Twins are the latest teams to join the growing movement against racial injustice that’s sweeping the sports landscape.

Players on both the Tigers and Twins voted Thursday afternoon to postpone that series opener at Comerica Park, a peaceful protest just days after another unarmed Black man, this one in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was killed by police.

A Twins source first confirmed the postponement to The Detroit News, and the Twins followed a statement supporting the decision of their players.

“The Minnesota Twins remain committed to using our platform to push for racial justice and equality,” the Twins said in a statement. “We fully respect our players for their decision.

“Real change is necessary and far overdue in our country, and it is our responsibility to continue playing a role in efforts to affect meaningful reform.”

The Tigers confirmed the postponement, saying a traditional doubleheader would take place Friday. The first game is at 1:10 p.m., and the second game will start 30 minutes after the first game ends. The games, per 2021 rules, will be seven innings.

Tigers general manager Al Avila said earlier Thursday — when the Tigers still were planning to play — that he would support any decision his players made.

“We would support that,” Avila said. “Everyone has to make their decision on how to combat racism or any injustice, to tell you the truth.

“For me, the world needs a lot more love and I would say any kind of protest — for me, anything that you take away violence is a key for me, and obviously it is a nonviolent way to make a statement.”

Six MLB teams decided to boycott three games Wednesday: the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres. A growing list of other games, besides Tigers-Tiwns, were being postponed Thursday.

The NBA also boycotted its playoff games Wednesday, and threatened to boycott the rest of the postseason, though recent reports suggest that now won’t happen. The NBA will take Thursday off, and the NHL and WNBA also announced they wouldn’t play Thursday.

The decisions not to play were made after the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, seven times in the back, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Subsequent protests in Kenosha have turned extremely violent, with two people killed. There have been protests against racial injustice held all across the country, including several in Detroit, since late May, when George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

Before Wednesday night’s game, the Tigers put “Equality Now” on the scoreboard at Comerica Park, and blasted the image out on their social-media channels.

The Tigers and Twins, and the rest of MLB, plan to honor Jackie Robinson, who broke the game’s color barrier, in 1947, by all wearing his No. 42. Jackie Robinson Day usually is held every April 15, the anniversary of his MLB debut, but because of COVID-19, the 2020 season didn’t start until July. Multiple players are pledging to donate their Friday salary to causes promoting racial justice.

There were about 80 Black players on Opening Day rosters in 2021, including three with the Tigers: Niko Goodrum, Cameron Maybin and Christian Stewart.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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