MLB Opening Day has arrived and the league is ready to support the Black Lives Matter movement. For Thursday's game between the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees, a Black Lives Matter/MLB stencil will appear on the pitcher's mound, and the stencil will also be used for the remaining opening weekend games. This comes after the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds kneeled during their preseason games this week.
"The Nationals, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and will utilize the platform and national stage of Opening Day to express support for the fight against systemic racism and injustice," the Nationals said in a statement via ESPN. The statement also said all teams have the option of using the Black Lives Matter stencil on the pitcher's mound for the entire weekend. Along with honoring the Black Lives Matter movement, the Nationals will honor the front-line workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, who has been the go-to guy on anything related to the virus.
Fauci is a Nationals fan and will get to see the team do something for the first time in franchise history. Before the game, the Nationals will raise a 2019 World Series Champions flag center-field plaza. The Nationals were able to beat the Houston Astros in the World Series last year, making it their first championship ever.
With the Nationals having the Black Lives Matter stencil on the mound, the question is will some players kneel during the national anthem? When the Giants did it earlier this week, manager Gabe Kapler was also involved, which made him the first head coach of any of the four major pro sports to protest in that manner. After the game, Kapler talked about showing support for his players who want to kneel.
"If they kneel for the anthem, we would support that. If they stood for the anthem, we would support that, too," Kapler said. "And we wouldn't pass judgment on them for making any statement or standing up for what they believe in, or expressing themselves."