Prior to the first game of the season, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley posted a picture of himself wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt at Petco Park to Instagram.
In the caption, Bradley wrote: “It’s not a movement. It’s a way of life. Get with it or get lost. No other meaning here for me then supporting my brothers and the black community.”
People commented, some appreciative of his support and others upset at his message.
Bradley spent time on a Zoom call with media before Saturday’s game against the San Diego Padres addressing the photo and his views on the matter.
“For me this is all a personal thing. I wasn’t asked or talked into by anyone. It was a feeling I had and something that, it was my way of showing I’m supporting this,” Bradley said.
“There’s a lot of controversy going on with Black Lives Matter and what that supports and what that’s about. For me, this wasn’t about a group, this wasn’t about a certain, really, anything outside of me supporting the black community, my black friends, and everything that I’ve witnessed.”
Bradley said that he posted it to support the Black people he knows, but clarified that his message is separate from the Black Live Matter movement.
“Maybe this is a very simple version, but I just view it very simply: I’m not with a group, I’m not with a saying, I’m with what’s going on in this country and it’s about the actual Black lives. It’s about the social injustice. It’s about the way some people are treated. It’s not about hating on the cops, or defunding,” Bradley said.
“For me, it’s a message about the black community is being treated differently and it’s about adjusting that and about creating a social system and social equality for everyone.”
He also said that he has learned how to separate his voice from his role as a pitcher.
“I got away from being afraid to be a reliever or a closer and make a comment, or make a post, and then have to worry about blowing a game or answering to pitching bad when those two things don’t correlate at all,” Bradley said.
“My voice, my opinion on certain things, they have nothing to do with my performance.”
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said in a Zoom call with media before the game Friday that the team has had some discussions about social injustice in the country.
He supports the players using their voices how they feel necessary.
“I feel very strongly about this, in allowing the players to advocate for themselves, speak up for what they believe in and create their own platform,” Lovullo said.
“We’ve had limited discussions. Ever since we have had them in groups, big or small, it’s been more about what you feel like you want to do instead of just saying something, put an action behind what you believe in.”
Before first pitch, the D-backs and Padres stood on the first and third base lines with a long black ribbon. Many Arizona players kneeled as they held it and a video tribute played.
During the National Anthem, they did not kneel.
Prior to that, outfielder Jon Jay spoke with media and said the team has created an environment where players can speak up without fear.
Jay said the feel that has changed around sports since protests began following the George Floyd death at the hands of police on May 25.
“It’s easier to tell your stories now, personal stories,” Jay said. “I’ve shared things that have happened to myself that I’ve never really shared before.”
Jay, the son of Cuban immigrants, shared a few experiences on the Zoom call: While playing pool at a bar, a man approached him and told Jay to thank him because the Mississippi city the man came from was apparently the first city in the South to free slaves.
At a near-empty restaurant with his wife, Jay was seated in the back by the kitchens. In upscale suburban neighborhoods he has lived in, he has been given distrustful looks. He and a Jamaican friend were pulled over while driving a nice car for no apparent reason.
“For us, we’re here to support Black lives and that’s been the biggest message for myself,” he said. “Black and brown lives, where there’s been a lot of injustices and things that we think should be changing. Hopefully we’re on the right steps to all that.”