CHICAGO (CBS) — While three Major League Baseball games were postponed Wednesday as players reacted to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, the Cubs went ahead with their game against the Detroit Tigers – but without outfielder Jason Heyward.
Speaking after the game, Heyward said he urged the rest of the team to go ahead with the game.
“I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen the next day. But tonight, I needed to be a part of what’s going on in our community, and I have support from them – teammates, coaching staff, everyone – you know, I encouraged them to go out and play the game tonight. I didn’t want anyone to sit here and say, ‘No, we don’t need to play the game.’ I could only tell them what I was going to do, and lead that way,” he said.
Heyward said some of his teammates had said they would also sit out the game, but he encouraged them to play.
“There was discussion. There were multiple guys saying they weren’t comfortable going out there and playing if I wasn’t going to go out there. They didn’t want to leave me hanging. And I let them know – encouraged them – go play the game,” he said. “I don’t think the game should be canceled. But I have to do what I have to do.”
Cubs Manager David Ross said Heyward has been a leader for the team, and he wanted to allow space for an emotional conversation.
“I had multiple players, after I spoke to Jason, we addressed the team. You know, when he said, in my office: ‘I don’t want these guys to have to follow me. This is a decision I have to make,’ and I opened the floor to the group and let him speak. And then, you know, players start flooding in in my office and then in the dugout, and it was, I went back and asked him again, just like, I just needed to just talk it out a little more. And he was pretty adamant about having the guys play and where he was at in his decision,” Ross said, “and you know, there’s a thing that talking – all the way up to like five minutes before game time, this is like, guys, they’re all talking about they’re trying to do what’s best for everybody. And like Jason said, there’s no handbook. I literally told the guys, ‘I don’t know, I will stand by all you guys whatever we decide and support Jason as number one and he wanted us to play, and so that’s what we did.”
Getting emotional himself, Ross added, “I can’t even imagine what he’s going through.”
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took issue with the current state of American society, saying politicians do not care about the American people and only their own agendas.
“There’s extremes on both sides, and just have some common sense. It’s left that we’ve lost all common sense. It’s just so extreme one way or the other, no matter which way you go. Just put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a second, and just see the other side of what’s happening, and whatever side you’re on – it doesn’t matter, you know? Just have some common sense. There’s common ground everywhere,” Rizzo said. “The American people, what we’ve been built on, you’ve seen it just get away. It’s sad. It’s sad to me. Really, it’s sad. It’s sad to me what’s going on in our country.”