Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced Monday that he will be opting out of the league this year in a lengthy Instagram post that references George Floyd and decries racism in the MLB and his struggles as a mixed-race American.
“The image of Derek Chauvin’s knee on the neck of George Floyd, the gruesome murder of a Black man in the streets at the hands of a police officer, broke my coping mechanism,” Desmond posted via Instagram on Monday. “Suppressing my feelings became impossible.”
“In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems,” the 11-season player continued. “We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.”
“If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now,” the outfielder said. “The golden rules of baseball–don’t have fun, don’t pimp home runs, don’t play with character. Those are white rules.”
“If we didn’t force Black Americans into white America’s box think how much more we could thrive,” he added.
Speaking of his experience as a biracial American, Desmond said he always dreaded “checking boxes” with regard to his race, often feeling like he didn’t totally fit in.
“The biracial seat is a completely unique experience,” he wrote, “and there are so many times you feel like you belong everywhere and nowhere at once. I knew I wasn’t walking around with the privilege of having white skin, but being raised by a white mother (an incredible mother), I never fully felt immersed in Black culture.”
“I almost always check Black,” he said. “Because I felt the prejudice. That’s what being Black meant to me: do you feel the hurt? Do you experience racism? Do you feel like you’re at a slight disadvantage?”
The 34-year-old cited the risks of COVID-19 and his need to be home to answer his “three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life” as reasons for opting out this season.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote at the end of the post.
“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,” he said. “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.”
As noted by ESPN, “Desmond had been due $5,555,556 for the prorated share of his $15 million salary, part of a $70 million, five-year contract, according to The Associated Press. He is owed $8 million next year, and his deal includes a $15 million team option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout.”
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