If you’re not opposed to a naughty word or two, you might be interested in my Colin Kaepernick opinions. It’s not a long read, but it covers every possible angle. Every possible angle. I’ll wait.
The worst anti-American opinions expressed over the last two weeks were the ones insinuating that America is a weak, fragile, overly sensitive baby of a country, and that anything other than scripted, rote obedience has the potential to damage it. "If someone doesn’t do or say exactly what I think is appropriate, maybe they should just leave the country," says the person who pretends to understand what America is supposed to be about.
The country is stronger than that. It doesn’t need this kind of help.
"Men and women didn’t die for this country just so that some jerk gets to share his political opinions. I mean, technically, sure, that’s exactly what those men and women were trying to protect. But, uh, I thought we had kind of a gentleman’s agreement deal that you wouldn’t really say unpopular stuff!"
Adam Jones weighed in juuuuust as the embers were burning out on this story, and he opened up to the USA Today about Kaepernick and why there hasn’t been similar protest in baseball. It was honest and measured. So of course people got offended.
The internet was on point. There was deflecting, there was missing the point entirely, and in the greatest of internet traditions, there was plenty of getting very angry for no easily explainable reason. And those were just the responses to the white baseball writers who promoted the story. Jones absolutely knew that he would be opening himself up for much, much worse. He still spoke his mind because that’s what he does, and he does it well.
Did Jones really say anything controversial, though?
"Here’s my thing,’’ Jones says, "there’s somebody on the 49ers’ team that commits an act like that, accosts a 70-year-old man and his kid, and nobody’s talking about that. But they talk about Kaepernick doing something that he believes in, as his right as an American citizen. People need to talk more about that guy than Kaepernick.
That’s not very controversial. People have opinions about Kaepernick. Strong, forceful opinions, even though he’s a backup quarterback. No one had strong, forceful opinions about Bruce Miller when he was arrested on domestic-violence charges. Maybe a handful of people had strong, forceful opinions when he was arrested for sending a 70-year-old man to the hospital.
But Kaepernick is football’s greatest villain right now because of a non-violent protest. That seems more than a little off.
It’s crazy how when people of color speak up, we’re always ridiculed. But when people that are not of color speak up, it’s their right.
Not controversial. There’s a general candidate for the presidential election whose campaign slogan implies that America isn’t great. Kaepernick is taking a knee because he’s suggesting America needs to improve. The methods are different, and the specifics are very different. But I can’t fathom why one expression of dissatisfaction is a feature and the other expression is a bug.
"The outside world doesn’t really respect athletes,’’ Jones says, "unless they talk about what they want them to talk about. Society doesn’t think we deserve the right to have an opinion on social issues.
I’m not sure if the outside world respects anything. But there is also a clear sentiment of "you’re a millionaire, so you can’t complain ever again about anything" when it comes to athletes (or entertainers) speaking out. This will never change.
Baseball is a white man’s sport.
The perceived controversy about this quote is so incredibly disproportionate to how controversial it really is. Baseball is a sport that’s predominantly owned by white men, who’ve chosen mostly white men to manage everything. The audience is predominantly white men, which means that’s the likeliest demographic to be catered to.
That doesn’t change because there’s a substantial number of Latin American or Asian players. And I don’t think Jones is making a value judgment about that fact as much as he’s implying that it makes it harder to feel comfortable as a black player with opinions.
Which ... can you blame him?
I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.
That seems pretty controversial, actually, but if you look deeper, you’ll ... whoops, that was the quote from Jackie Robinson’s book that was included in the USA Today article. Sorry.
In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us.
Here’s where Jones and I disagree the most. Talent is what allows baseball players to have opinions. That’s the most important requirement. It’s why Carlos Delgado got $52 million from the Marlins months after refusing to observe "God Bless America" in the middle of the seventh inning. Talent is why the Mets didn’t blink when they had a chance to trade for Delgado a year later, and it’s why any Mets fans who disagreed with the stance sure didn’t care as much while he was whomping 38 homers.
Talent is why Mark Dewey didn’t get a gig for years after he embarrassed the Giants. Given the choice between a quiet replacement-level pitcher and a replacement-level pitcher who draws attention to his dissatisfaction about a day of AIDS awareness, I know which one I offer the minor-league contract to.
If Adam Jones decided to kneel during the national anthem, he would still be employed by the Orioles because he has talent. And in the unlikely event that he was released for making a statement, his agent’s phone would melt with job offers before the next morning. But he’s not even saying that he wants to. He’s saying that the outcry over Kaepernick was so disproportionate to what he did.
And that’s pretty hard to disagree with, considering that we’re still talking about a backup quarterback’s political stance weeks later. Jones wants to know why. He’s also expressing how uncomfortable he is as a black player in a sport that’s seen a notable decline in black players. I can imagine disagreeing with the finer points. I can’t imagine being offended by them.
Jones was also talking about controversy and self-expression in the context of the stodgiest damned sport in the world, where blowing your nose the wrong way gets a rock-hard, 95-mph projectile thrown at your back. That matters, too.
We have at least a sliver of an idea about how baseball would react to a Kaepernick situation because of Delgado, even if that scenario was a little different (his home team was in Canada, and it was "God Bless America" instead of the national anthem). There was a lot of this.
Go back to Puerto Rico if you dont like the U.S.
Actually, see, the thing about Puerto Rico ...
Adam Jones has opinions. He expressed them. Now we get to have opinions about his opinions. I don’t think his opinions were shocking in the slightest. You might disagree. But look at that: We’re all talking about it. I’ll always prefer a little of that over the 110 percent and one-day-at-a-time quotes.
As long as one of us doesn’t start acting like an ass*, this conversation might get us somewhere one day.