Minnesota sports teams postpone games after shooting
By Tyler Kepner and Sopan Deb
Professional baseball, basketball and hockey games in Minnesota were postponed Monday in response to tension and unrest after a police officer shot and killed a Black man during a traffic stop north of Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Twins postponed their afternoon game with the Boston Red Sox and were quickly followed by the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves calling off a game against the Brooklyn Nets and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild postponing a match against the St. Louis Blues.
With the region on edge as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, continues in Minneapolis, the Twins said it would not have been appropriate to play. The police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where the latest shooting took place Sunday, said that the victim, Daunte Wright, 20, was shot accidentally by an officer who had intended to use a Taser.
“Our community’s been through a lot, and we have a trial taking place just blocks away from Target Field,” the Twins team president, Dave St. Peter, said in a video news conference with reporters. “Emotions across our community, emotions across our organization, are raw.”
He added that baseball seemed “a little less important” now, and that the Twins prioritized safety and compassion over holding the game as scheduled.
“Make no mistake, part of the decision here today is out of respect for the Wright family, but there’s a big part of this decision that’s also rooted in safety and consultation with law enforcement about unknowns, about what will, or could transpire within the broader community over the next several hours, based on the news that has come out of Brooklyn Center this morning,” St. Peter said.
“Once you understand that information, for us the decision becomes a lot easier. The right thing to do is always to err on the side of safety for our players, for our staff, for our fans.”
Outside Minnesota, Aaron Hicks, who had previously played for the Twins, asked to sit out of Monday’s game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. Another Yankees player, Giancarlo Stanton, was considering sitting out as well.
“I would say that Aaron is hurting in a huge way,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “I think in a way felt like it was probably the responsible thing to take himself out and knowing that it was going to be hard for him to be all in mentally in what’s a high stake, difficult job to go out there and perform for the New York Yankees.”
In a statement, the NBA said the decision to postpone Monday night’s game was made after consultation with the Timberwolves organization as well as local and state officials.
Last spring, after the killing of Floyd, several NBA and WNBA players became active participants in the protests that broke out around the country.
In August, after the NBA had resumed its season on the Walt Disney World campus near Orlando, Florida, some NBA players took their demonstrations further after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, then 29, was partially paralyzed after being shot multiple times in the back by police while trying to enter his vehicle.
Before a playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic, George Hill, then a guard for the Bucks, persuaded the rest of his teammates to sit out the game. This created a cascade effect: The other games on tap that night were postponed as well, as well as those in other leagues, like women’s basketball, baseball and soccer. Naomi Osaka, a Black tennis star, threatened to leave the Western & Southern Open, which pushed officials to delay the tournament by a day.
Two days later, the NBA and its players union announced an agreement that would convert some team arenas into polling sites and lift the player-inspired work stoppage. Some of the league’s top players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, consulted with former President Barack Obama on a path forward.
In discussing the Twins’ postponement Monday, manager Rocco Baldelli said some players were shaken by the incident in Brooklyn Center.
“We have some guys that I would put in the category of passionate,” Baldelli said, “and were really damaged and hurt by everything that was going on today.”
The Twins and the Red Sox were scheduled to play four games through Thursday, and this is Boston’s only scheduled trip to Minnesota this season. The teams play a series in Boston in late August, but St. Peter said the Twins have not considered moving the series to Fenway Park.
The NBA’s announcement did not say when the Timberwolves and Nets would make up the lost game. The Wild’s game against the Blues has been rescheduled for May 12.