San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler knew he was going to receive backlash for kneeling during the national anthem with a few of his players and coaches on Monday. And while he had no interest in responding to the critics, Kapler did have a message for President Donald Trump, who said he wouldn't watch sports games where he sees athletes taking a knee. When asked about Trump on Tuesday, Kapler said kneeling is part of being an American.
"My response is I don’t see it as disrespect at all," he said via USA Today. "I see nothing more American than standing up for what you believe in. I see nothing more patriotic than peaceful protests when things are frustrating and upsetting." Kapler went to say not one person should "make us stop doing the right thing." Kapler then noted it doesn't matter what Trump says as the most important thing is that "we're unwavering in trying to do what’s right."
On Tuesday morning, Trump went to Twitter to reveal his excitement for the return of sports as baseball will begin its 2020 season on Thursday. However, he stated he'll check out of games as soon as he sees players taking a knee. "Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!" Trump wrote.
Mike Yastrzemski was one of the players who kneeled with Kapler during the anthem. On social media, Yastrzemski explained why he made the decision to take a knee. "By kneeling last night, I wanted to hold myself, and hopefully others, accountable that something needs to change and I am willing to be part of the changes because we all deserve the freedom that our veterans and active members have sacrificed their lives for," Yastrzemski wrote on Instagram. He also started the American flag "represents to me the ultimate sacrifice that a man or woman can make."
The Giants kneeled in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that has gained more attention since the death of George Floyd back in May. It's likely more players will kneel once the baseball season begins, which means Trump won't be watching a lot of baseball games this year.