Joey Votto was one of the four Cincinnati Reds players who took a knee during the national anthem before Tuesday's exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers. The other three were Amir Garrett, Phillip Ervin, and Alex Blandino. According to ESPN, Votto, Garrett, and Ervin were among several Reds players who wore Black Lives Matter shirts during camp.
"It's certainly a contentious subject, but I wrote the op-ed and I wore the shirt because I feel like it's pretty simply a human rights issue," Votto said before the game, who did not signal he if would take a knee during the anthem. "I think I said those words and started chipping away at taking a stance because things seem unfair. Just aligning my support."
The four players kneeled along the first-base line with other teammates standing beside them. Mike Moustakas was seen putting his hand on Ervin's shoulder while Cody Reed was seen having his hand on Garrett's back. After the game, Reds manager David Bell said he's supportive of players who kneel or stand during the anthem.
"The way I see it with our players because I know them so well, whether they were standing or kneeling, it was all out of respect," Bell said. "It was out of respect for everything that is great and good about our country, the sacrifices and the hard work that allow us to be here today. Bell then stated players who stand or kneel "represents how much each individual on this team cares." He then said what the players did before the game was "anything they can do to change and help us improve and become an even greater country, and certainly to stand against anything that our country doesn't stand for, whether that's racism or anything that's unfair."
The Reds kneeling during the anthem comes one day after the San Francisco Giants did the same thing. The only difference was Giants manager Gabe Kapler kneeled, making him the first MLB manager and the first head coach of the four major sports in North America to protest in that manner. What the Giants did lead to President Donald Trump going to Twitter and saying he will not watch games where players are kneeling during the national anthem. Based on how things are going, the Giants and Reds won't be the only teams in the MLB to take a knee before playing.