For Lucas Giolito, this week has been a time to celebrate after a historic pitching performance.
For Giolito, as with other socially conscious athletes, it has also been a time to speak out in the wake of the recent shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“It’s been kind of weird, because a couple days ago, I had a really good game, and I want to enjoy that and celebrate that,” Giolito said. “We had a nice series as well. Our team is playing well, momentum’s good, but at the same time, there’s a lot going on outside of baseball that’s very important.”
He shared his views Thursday about athletes speaking out to accomplish change.
Giolito said he was especially moved by the remarks of the Mets’ Dominic Smith.
“Watching him up there talk about his experience, get emotional, it made me emotional, because that’s a player I respect," he said. "That’s someone I’ve known for a long time, and it’s really sad to see he’s just one example of so many people in this country that are not being treated fairly.”
Giolito said he intends to continue to raise awareness, “talking about it like I’m talking now, not being afraid to express my opinion on how I feel ... as a white man, as a white baseball player.
“At the same time, there’s a lot more education that I need to do. I need to obviously read more, talk more to my teammates about it.”
“We haven’t addressed it as a team, he said. “That’s something we’ll be doing.”
Referring to people who think athletes should stick to sports, he said, “That’s so tired now. I’m not going to give those kinds of people the time of day, because we’re all members of this society.
“I’m not going to argue with someone trying to tell me to stay in my own lane or whatever it may be. I’m going to feel comfortable expressing my opinions on things.”
Giolito said he is able to stay focused on baseball.
“When I step between the lines for a game, it’s not difficult to kind of put everything else on the side, because for me, competition time’s competition time,” he said. “I’m going to give 100% focus on that and compete to the best of my ability.
“But it is difficult, especially these last few days, seeing what’s going on, to be able to flip that switch.”
Asked how he would handle the situation if Tim Anderson, who is Black, opted out of Friday’s game, Giolito said he has not spoken to Anderson about that.
“This organization, it’s very much like a family. We respect each other’s beliefs and opinions,” Giolito said.
He said it’s important white players stand with Black players.
“I’ve talked about this before,” he said. “I had a solid amount of privilege, opportunity thrown my way in life, in this game. Part of that is because of the color of my skin. I want to be able to stand alongside my Latin brothers, my Black brothers on this team, in this league. I think that unity is very important.”
He said police reform is a big issue.
“Something has to change,” he said. “There has to be progress made. Otherwise the same thing is going to keep happening over and over.”
He said athletes sitting out games raises awareness, but the next step is turning that into actual change.
“I think that is what the (Milwaukee) Bucks are trying to do, and now we’re seeing other teams, other players getting involved in that way,” Giolito said.