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Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced Monday night that he will not take part in the 2020 MLB season, an option baseball is affording players as the sport opens amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He offered multiple personal reasons in a lengthy Instagram post.

A brief summary of those reasons:

— The “gruesome murder” (Desmond’s words) of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May broke his “coping mechanism” and left him unable to suppress his emotions.

MORE: Full list of MLB players to opt out

— A recent visit to the Little League complex in his hometown, Sarasota, Fla., upset him. The fields where he once played were in poor shape and deserted. He then recounted racist behavior by high school teammates and racial inequality in American education. He recalled helping Antwaun, a kid he met at the Nationals’ youth academy while he was playing in Washington. Antwaun “died when he was 18, shot 31 times in D.C.,” Desmond wrote.

— He’s disturbed by what he sees around MLB in 2020.

“Think about it: right now in baseball we’ve got a labor war. We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. Two African American managers (ed.: Dusty Baker, Dave Roberts). Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.

“Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it.

“If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now.”

— He spoke of experiences with racism as a biracial male and the stress of having to check certain boxes during his life. That led him to list “the golden rules of baseball: don’t have fun, don’t pimp home runs, don’t play with character. Those are white rules. Don’t do anything fancy. Take it down a notch. Keep it all in the box.”

— He wants to be present for his young family. His wife is expecting their fifth child. “With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now,” he wrote. He said he will also devote time to reviving youth baseball in Sarasota. “It’s what I can do, in the scheme of so much. So, I am,” he wrote.

If MLB does not rule Desmond, 34, a “high-risk” player in terms of health, then he will forfeit about $5.5 million, the prorated portion of his 2020 salary that he would have made had he participated in MLB’s 60-game regular season, and not accumulate service time. He has one year and an option remaining on his five-year, $70 million contract after this season.

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Sen. Hawley Rips NBA, ESPN Over Relationship With China

Sen. Josh Hawley slammed the NBA for its relationship with China and said he would support a Senate subpoena of NBA commissioner Adam Silver to discuss the topic.

During a Monday interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Republican lawmaker from Missouri said a Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena of Silver is a “great idea.”

Hawley has repeatedly ripped the NBA over its relationship with China.

Recently, he has expressed concern over the league allowing players to wear pre-approved messages on the back of their jerseys that support racial equality but did not include any phrases regarding China or supporting law enforcement.

“If the NBA’s going to put these social justice statements on the back of uniforms, which is what they’re doing now, why is it that there’s nothing on there about free Hong Kong or the Uyghurs or anything that has to do with the billions of dollars the NBA makes in China?” Hawley told Hewitt. “And you see the response from the reporter, and now ESPN, and say oh, you know, well, the reporter, we’ll take care of that. We’ll silence him. But they don’t want to address the core issue, which is the NBA’s relationship with China. ESPN has a slice of that pie.”

Hawley was referring to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, who was suspended by ESPN, after he responded to an email from Hawley’s press office with an expletive. Hawley said he should be reinstated. Wojnarowski apologized for the email he sent to Hawley, calling his actions “unacceptable.”

Hawley said he would rather see his questions on the leagues dealings with China answered than a reporter be suspended. 

"ESPN is trying to distract from the fact that they will not stand up to the NBA and ask the tough questions," he said of the suspension. 

The lawmaker said the NBA needs to provide the government with an explanation of its business dealings in China.

“This is big time money for the NBA, and I think we do deserve to know exactly what they’re making,” Hawley said. “And we deserve to have them explain to us why they won’t stand up to this authoritarian regime.”

Hawley came to the defense of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey who called attention to Hong Kong protests on Twitter last fall. 

"You might remember that the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, when he retweeted, he didn’t even say it himself, he just retweeted one little line that said stand with Hong Kong or free Hong Kong, and oh, my goodness, the sky was falling," Hawley said. "He got censored. The league came down hard on him."

Hawley blasted the NBA for not offering more support for Morey and accused the NBA and ESPN of bowing to Beijing. Chinas government punished the NBA over Moreys tweet by reducing its business with the league, which was fast growing in China.

He said the NBA needs to stand up to China and say, "we are not going to be silent, and you’re not going to be able to buy us off."

Related Stories:

  • ESPN Suspends Reporter Who Wrote Profane Email to Josh Hawley
  • Sen. Hawley Asks NBA to Add Pro-Police, Pro-Military Messaging

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