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Bob Melvin creates new policy requiring SF Giants players to stand during national anthem

Jason Mastrodonato, Bay Area News Group on

Published in Baseball

The San Francisco Giants manager has gone viral.

Bob Melvin, in his first year as Giants skipper, made a new team rule that’s been turning heads on a national scale.

The Athletic reported last week that Melvin is requiring his entire team – from the bullpen coaches, to the non-roster invitees, to the batboys and the trainers – to stand on the field for the national anthem.

After the USA Today ran a similar story over the weekend, Melvin’s rule has become a talking point in major media outlets, with his decision earning headlines on both Fox News and CNN, among others, over the last 48 hours.

Melvin explained last week that the mandate to stand during the anthem is “all about the perception that we’re out there ready to play. That’s it. You want your team ready to play and I want the other team to notice it, too. It’s really as simple as that.”

While standing during the anthem may be a simple thing to Melvin, it’s been anything but simple since 2016, when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee before a preseason game as a way of silently protesting racial injustice. His protest drew national attention and became a frequent talking point from politicians, including former President Donald Trump, who said players should be fired for protesting during the anthem.

MLB players and managers have taken turns finding their own ways to protest. And in 2020, former Giants manager Gabe Kapler took a knee during the anthem for several games after the George Floyd killing. Following the 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 21 people, Kapler made the decision to regularly stop standing on the field during the anthem.

He explained on his personal blog that he didn’t feel like standing was appropriate.

“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 wrote. “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.”

Melvin insists his decision to require all players to stand isn’t political. He told USA Today on Friday that it’s about bonding a group of new players.

“Look, we’re a new team here, we got some good players here,’’ Melvin said, “it’s more about letting the other side know that we’re ready to play. I want guys out here ready to go. There’s a personality to that.

 

“It has nothing to do with whatever happened in the past or whatever, it’s just something I embrace.”

While current Giants outfielders Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski were among those to take a knee following the Floyd killing, they don’t seem to be offended by Melvin’s policy.

Slater told The Athletic that it “sets the example of hey, we’re in this together.”

And it highlights the differences between Melvin and Kapler, who was more of an individualist.

“I think a kind of ‘fend for yourself’ type of atmosphere somehow fell into place,” Yastrzemski told The Athletic last September, after Kapler’s dismissal. “I don’t know where it came from, but it kind of took over where everybody felt like they could do their own thing and it made it feel like there wasn’t an entire group effort or a sense of unity. When you look at successful brands and successful teams, they have unity in a common goal. And I think that we need to refocus on that and to generate a very narrow window of where all of our eyesight should be.”

Melvin also requires players who aren’t participating in Cactus League games to stay and watch a set number of innings based on service time, The Athletic reported.

Melvin told reporters in Arizona that he had these same rules while managing in Oakland and San Diego.

And what happens if a player decides he wants to silently protest during the national anthem this year?

“We haven’t addressed it,” Slater told The Athletic. “… I think you’d still have the right to do that. But that’s not what this is about. It’s more about being ready to play every game.”


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