At around 1 pm ET., Phillies players met as a team. Some were on the fence about playing in the series finale against the Nationals in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
The meeting lasted around 30 minutes. Rhys Hoskins called it one of the most powerful half-hours they had ever spent as a group. Some players got emotional when they spoke. Some talked about just how tired they were of all the racial injustice that’s taking place around them.
Ultimately, the Phillies decided that if they were to make a decision, they would make it as a team. Hoskins called Joe Girardi shortily after to inform him of the team’s decision. Girardi fully supported his players.
“I believe in them and I trust them,” Girardi said in a joint Zoom meeting with Nationals manager Dave Martinez Thursday. “I know there are things they deal with as being part of a 28-man roster, but they need to stay together.
“I’m in support of all of our players. We’re in this together. In this fight for equality and social justice. In this world, I’ve always believed there’s two things you can’t live without. It has nothing to do with food and water. It’s love and hope. And I don’t think we’re doing a good job in our country giving that to everyone. I think that needs to be the focus here. I think that’s what baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies are standing up for. People need to have love and hope,” Girardi said.
Making the decision to play or not to play as a team differentiated from what some MLB teams did on Wednesday. While the Brewers, Mariners and Dodgers decided not to play as a team in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, the Cubs and Red Sox played their regularly scheduled game after at least one player sat out in protest.
When it came to a decision to play Wednesday’s game, both the Phillies and Nationals were not aware of what was going on in the sports world. Brewers players made their decision about the matchup against the Reds around first pitch of yesterday’s Phillies game. The 6:05 pm ET. start-time put the Phillies in a tricky situation.
“I didn’t know about the Brewers game being postponed until after the game,” Hoskins said. “There wasn’t any chatter. We learned about it after the game and decided to take action today to take a step back from the spotlight of sports, which obviously provides a distraction and puts us in a spotlight on a daily basis. Today we just decided to take a step back from that to make sure that these real issues of social injustice were the focus. That was important to the whole group and both teams today, so that’s what we decided to do.”
Like Girardi, Hoskins wasn’t alone when he addressed the media Thursday. He was joined by Nationals infielder Josh Harrison. Harrison, who was cut by the Phillies at the end of summer camp, has already emerged as a veteran leader in the Nationals clubhouse.
Earlier in the afternoon, Andrew McCutchen, who was teammates with Harrison for years on the Pirates, texted Harrison and asked if the Nationals spoke together as a team about playing Thursday.
Since Martinez told Nationals players to report later than usual, they had not, but Harrison assured McCutchen that he would talk with his teammates once he arrives at the ballpark. At around 2:15, Martinez informed Harrison that Girardi had called him and that the two teams have agreed to postpone the game.
Martinez said he called Nationals players to tell them what was going on. All of his players were in full support of the Phillies’ decision to not play.
“There’s ugliness in this world and it needs to be fixed and it needs to start now,” Martinez said.
The next step for both the Phillies and Nationals is to engage in meaningful change. Players are in the preliminary stages of brainstorming exactly what they can and will do, but the hope is that a plan can be released soon.
“Hopefully in the next couple days, you’ll see some ideas come to fruition from the Phillies organization and from us as a club,” Hoskins said.
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