A Major League Baseball legend is calling out San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kaplan after he announced this week he will boycott standing for the National Anthem following the terribly tragic mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school last week.
Tony La Russa, who is currently manager for the Chicago White Sox, said that though he agreed with Kaplan over the general issue of gun violence, he said over the weekend that using the National Anthem as a mode of protest was not the right time or occasion to do so.
“White Sox manager Tony La Russa wants it to be very clear: He likes and respects Gabe Kapler and agrees with his stance on gun violence but disagrees with his mode of protesting. (Kapler says he’ll remain in the clubhouse for the national anthem.),” ESPN White Sox beat reporter Jesse Rogers tweeted.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa wants it to be very clear: He likes and respects Gabe Kapler and agrees with his stance on gun violence but disagrees with his mode of protesting. (Kapler says he’ll remain in the clubhouse for the national anthem.)
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 28, 2022
“Where I disagree is that the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objection. I think you go directly to what the cause that really bothers you about the direction of the country is,” La Russa said on Saturday.
“So to me, it isn’t the flag and the anthem. I think it makes more sense to figure out which of those issues and speak about the ones he didn’t like and what he will do about it,” La Russa continued.
“I would never not stand up for the anthem or the flag. Maybe just because I’m older, and I’ve been around veterans more than the average person,” he added, going on to say that standing for the anthem and the flag was not something he was doing for himself, per se, but more for those who had sacrificed on his behalf while serving under the flag.
“Some of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem. You need to understand what the veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families. And if you truly understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem,” he said.
Kapler told reporters ahead of the team’s Friday night game against the Cincinnati Reds that he won’t be taking the field for the National Anthem and will continue to skip it until he feels better about the direction of the country in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.
Kapler, who has led the Giants since 2019, also posted an online essay explaining his decision late Friday afternoon.
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t,” Kapler explained. “I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.”
The Daily Wire added that Kapler said he wanted to protest the anthem on Wednesday evening, but did not do so.
“On Wednesday, I walked out onto the field, I listened to the announcement as we honored the victims in Uvalde. I bowed my head. I stood for the national anthem. Metallica riffed on City Connect guitars,” he wrote.
“My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen,” Kapler noted further. “I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to take away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn’t understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves.”
He went on to rip elected leaders, noting that he is “often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents.”
Kapler, who once played for the Boston Red Sox, added that Americans “stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the ‘shining city on the hill.’”
“But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings,” he noted. “We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn.”
“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place,” he added — though there are some studies questioning that claim.
Kapler also tweeted, “We’re not the land of the free nor the home of the brave right now.”