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Friday, August 28, 2020

Former Toronto Blue Jay skewered for comments about Black Lives Matter

The major league baseball player who was famously suspended by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017 for shouting a homophobic slur is once again making headlines for his choice of words.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar, 31, was asked by reporters about his team's decision not to play their scheduled game against the Blue Jays on Thursday evening.

Pillar's answer was unpopular, at best. At worst, it was downright dismissive of what basically equates to racially-motivated, state-permitted, widespread mass murder.

Both the Jays and the Sox had decided to postpone the game in line with other professional athletes (chiefly NBA players) over the shooting of an unarmed Black man named Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The decision was announced just 30 minutes before the game had been set to start, and is said by local sports media to have been led by Jackie Bradley Jr. — the only Black player on the Red Sox, who himself declined to play, but encouraged his teammates to move forward without him.

In the end, the entire team boycotted the game to take a stand against anti-Black racism and police violence, like many other pro sports teams, including the Toronto Raptors, did on Thursday evening.

"To be honest with you, it was not an easy decision for a lot of us," said Pillar of skipping the game to support Black lives, foreshadowing what was to come.

When asked how they were going to "help lift Bradley up" as the only Black player on a team in a league where only 7.7 per cent of all players are Black, Pillar dug himself a deeper hole.

"Is it more important that we uplift Jackie because he’s the only one? My answer would be no," he said.

"I think it's important that we uplift everyone in this room. Jackie is our only African-American baseball player on this team, but like they mentioned, we do have a coach, we have a trainer, there are teams that have quite a bit more African Americans on their team."

While Pillar stressed the team's unwavering support for Bradley Jr., specifically, he also went on to basically say "all lives matter" in a roundabout way.

"It's a touchy subject, but I don't think right now, as a country, we should be necessarily identifying individual groups of people that need to be uplifted," Pillar said of the movement.

"I think the vast majority of us would like to encourage to uplift everyone and support everyone."

Ai yai yai.

Pillar, who played for the Jays between 2013 and 2019 and was affectionately know to many as "superman" (you know, until he screamed "f****t" at Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte), fast became the target of internet scolding.

Torontonians in particular seem outraged over his comments, reflecting on Twitter upon his days as a Blue Jay and denouncing any love they once had for the athlete.

"Hey, f*ck Kevin Pillar forever, Toronto made him a name," wrote one. "I'm ashamed of the years I was a fan. Seems fitting for him to be in Boston."

"I never liked Kevin Pillar when he played for the Blue Jays," wrote another. "I found him very overrated, and this quote by Kevin Pillar makes me happy he's no longer a Jay and a Red Sox now."

The veteran Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar officially left Toronto after six years —his entire MLB career to date at the time—for the San Francisco Giants when he was traded in April of 2019.

He signed a $4.25 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in February of this year, not long before COVID hit.

by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

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