Two Major League Baseball Teams Forgo Regular Game Coverage to Address Gun Violence

The social channels of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays shared gun violence information instead of usual game updates on Thursday night.

Two Major League Baseball Teams Forgo Regular Game Coverage to Address Gun Violence
Photo:Jim McIsaac (Getty Images)

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays decided to forgo regular game coverage on the teams’ social channels on Thursday night to bring attention to gun violence. The Rays went all in, changing all its social channels to orange—the color worn to remember victims of gun violence—announcing a donation and posting a powerful statement.

“We all deserve to be safe—in schools, grocery stores, places of worship, our neighborhoods, houses, and America. The most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have shaken us to the core. The Tampa Bay Rays are mourning these heartbreaking tragedies that took the lives of innocent children and adults,” the Florida team shared on Thursday evening. “This cannot be normal. We cannot become numb. we cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes.”

The New York Times reported that the Rays communications team “led the effort to research and vet the facts, an initiative assisted by Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ vice president of communications,” and his comms staff.

The Yankees, while definitely tweeting, felt a bit more subdued. “In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Rays, we will be using our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence,” the Yankees said in a statement on Twitter. “The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo, and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable.”

Between Instagram and Twitter, the Yankees have about 6.5 million followers, while the Rays have just barely over a million.

In addition to shining a spotlight on the realities of gun violence, the Rays donated $50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the organization’s education, research, and litigation wing. Jezebel reached out to the Yankees to confirm if a donation was made at all.

In 2015, MLB and the players’ union announced the league’s first domestic violence policy. Prior to a formal policy and inclusion in the players’ collective bargaining agreement, MLB’s actions gave the impression it did not care about domestic violence incidents among its ranks. Before the official policy, as few as two players were suspended related to domestic violence: Wil Cordero in 1997 and Julio Mateo in 2007.

One of the facts tweeted by both organizations is that 4.5 million women reported an intimate partner threatening them with a gun. Sharing this fact and collaborating with the Rays is the least an organization can do—especially when it keeps signing men accused of crimes against their intimate partners! But it is a good move, nonetheless.

The Yankees organization’s seemingly less pressing approach might be due to the team’s history with domestic violence. The first player suspended by MLB was Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in March 2016. In a police report, Chapman said he fired 8 shots into a wall during an argument. A second Yankees player, Domingo Germán, was suspended in January 2020 for 81 games. Rays centerfield Randy Arozarena was arrested on suspicion of trying to kidnap his daughter in Mexico in November 2020, but he was not punished under the league’s policy.

Most recently, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was suspended without pay for an entire season under the domestic violence policy. (Bauer denies committing any offending actions under the policy.)

The almost back-to-back mass shootings have made every industry feel compelled to take a stand on ending gun violence. May more organizations be like the Rays, in particular, going all in and leveraging more of its power.

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