Team USA Names Five Black Players To Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team USA Names Five Black Players To Olympic Qualifying Roster

 By Jaelen Ogadhoh | MLBbro.com Intern

Olympic baseball is back for the first time since 2008, and a few notable MLBbros are onboard.

USA Baseball released its 28-man training camp roster on Sunday, and five Black players are in the lineup. Among those players are major league veterans Matt Kemp, Edwin Jackson, and Anthony Gose, and minor leaguers Clayton Andrews and Simeon Woods Richardson. The final roster will be cut to 26 on Sunday, May 30.

 

 

“I’ve put on a lot of different jerseys, but this one will be special in a different way,” said Jackson to MLBbro.com on Monday. “I’m not only playing to represent myself and my family but our country.”

Kemp began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006-2014, where he earned two all-star appearances, two Golden Gloves, and two Silver Slugger awards. After brief stints with the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves, the 36-year-old outfielder returned to the Dodgers in 2018 where he earned his third all-star appearance in an incredible comeback story.

READ MORE: Matt Kemp Got His All-Star Swagger Back

He played for the Cincinnati Reds in 2019, and the Colorado Rockies in 2020 where he batted .239 with six home runs in 43 games. He is currently unsigned but could earn MLB teams’ interest with a strong showing in the Olympics.

Jackson made history in 2019 by pitching for his 14th different major league team, the most by any player in history. The 37-year-old played 17 years in the majors, earning an all-star appearance in 2009 with the Detroit Tigers, where he struck out 161 with 70 walks and posted an ERA+ of 125.

 

 

Gose played centerfield for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2012-2014 and for the Detroit Tigers from 2016-2016, batting .240/.309/.348 over his five-year major league career. Since leaving the Tigers, the 30-year-old has converted to pitcher and played in the minors within the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers organizations before joining the Cleveland Indians AA affiliate team in 2021.

Andrews was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 and currently plays for their AA affiliate team. Through seven games, the 24-year-old lefthander is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA. His ability to make batters swing and miss is evident as he struck out 11 with 7 walks in 9 innings. His WHIP sits at 1.29.

Woods Richardson was drafted by the New York Mets in 2018, and the 20-year-old right-hander is 1-0 through four games with the Toronto Blue Jays AA affiliate team. He currently has a 2.37 ERA with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 innings. His WHIP sits at 1.16.

 

 

No players currently on MLB rosters are participating in the qualifiers as the Olympics will be held during the season. The team will be managed by Mike Scioscia.

The Road to Tokyo for the U.S. starts with the Americas Olympic Qualifier against Nicaragua on May 31 at 5 p.m. ET from Clover Park in St. Lucie, Florida. The qualifying tournament also features the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Canada, Venezuela and Colombia, and the winner will clinch the fifth spot in the Olympics.

The second-and third-place teams from the tournament will then compete with the Netherlands, Australia and Taiwan, and for the sixth and final spot. 

Baseball is returning to the Olympics this year for the first time since the 2008 Games in Beijing, where USA Baseball took home the bronze medal. The U.S. won its only gold medal in baseball in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and looks to return to the mountaintop once again this summer.

And some MLBbros will be front and center.

Major League Baseball Stands United, Moves ‘21 All-Star Game from Atlanta

Major League Baseball Stands United, Moves ‘21 All-Star Game from Atlanta

Major League Baseball announced today that the 2021 All-Star Game will not be played in Atlanta, Georgia. The decision to change the location comes one week after new legislation was passed in Georgia placing heavy restrictions on voters (Election Integrity Act 2021). The annual Midsummer Classic was originally scheduled to be played in Atlanta’s Truist Park, July 13.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.” 

Manfred also stated MLB “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” 

After Manfred reached out and spoke to three influential figures within MLB’s Players Alliance — MLB pitcher Edwin Jackson, Dee Strange Gordon and Cameron Maybin (the Black players who got the ball rolling) — he was convinced to join them in their fight to have the game moved out of Georgia.

The Players Alliance, whose mission includes creating an inclusive culture within baseball and providing opportunities for the Black community, were elated with the relocation decision and issued in part this statement:

“We want to make our voice heard loud and clear in our opposition of the recent Georgia legislation that not only disproportionately disenfranchises the Black community, but also paves the way for other states to pass similarly harmful laws based largely on widespread falsehoods and disinformation.”

White superstars such as Clayton Kershaw, Evan Longoria and Cody Bellinger are also a part of this special group of groundbreaking MLB players.

“A lot of our ballplayers are from Atlanta, not just the Black players,” said Players Alliance President Curtis Granderson on MLB Network. “We’re looking to do a lot more, especially in the State of Georgia.”

“We’ve grown into 150 plus players and we’ve been able to a lot of things virtually, going to 33 different cities, handing out COVID supplies and other equipment wherever needed, and we are just getting started, We are less than a year old.”

New voting bills, signed into law by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on March 26, have restrictions that disproportionately affect communities of color. The new legislation requires Georgia residents to have a photo ID for absentee voters by mail, reduces the amount of time voters will have to request an absentee ballot and reduces the number of places where dropboxes can be placed. It goes so far as to prohibit anyone from giving out food or water to voters who are waiting in line. 

Moving the All-Star Game had been debated in the last week in the wake of the new Georgia voting law. On Wednesday, President Biden responded to questions about moving the game from Atlanta, saying he would “strongly support” pulling the game out of Atlanta because of a law he described as “Jim Crow on steroids.” 

Following the passing of the voting law, MLB Players Association director Tony Clark told the Boston Globe that the union body was “very much aware” of the significance of the game being in Georgia and said that moving it would be considered. 

The Braves are obviously ticked off with all of the potential revenue getting picked off in the ninth inning.

The new host city for the All-Star Game has not yet been determined. Manfred said MLB would continue with plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron, who died this past January, during the All-Star Game events.