Two-time All-Star Ian Desmond will sit out the 2020 MLB season, citing racial injustice as the reason why

In a heartfelt and poignant message shared on Instagram Monday, 2-time MLB All-Star and Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond became the first major leaguer to announce that he will sit out the MLB season due in part to racial inequality in baseball.

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On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Monday’s post from Desmond spanned across nine slides, and in it, the 3-time Silver Slugger Award winner opined the racial disparities that he believes currently exist in Major League Baseball and beyond.

“Think about it: right now in baseball we’ve got a labor war. We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners. Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it. If baseball is America’s pastime, maybe it’s never been a more fitting one than now.”

Desmond – whose mother is white and father is black – also discussed his upbringing through the sport and his desire to see more opportunity for young players from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids – but especially those in underprivileged communities? Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”

Desmond would go on to recall stories from his teenage and adult years, including his white teammates in high school chanting, “White power” before games, as well as the murder of a young man named Antwuan, whom Desmond met at Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in D.C.

It’s Desmond’s position that if the sport of baseball had become available to Antwuan at a younger age, he might have been set on a more successful path at an earlier age and could possibly still be alive today.

“Antwuan was 12 years old when he started going to the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – because that’s when it started existing in his universe as a resource. We got him a tutor, he got into other programs, and he learned to read. He was on the right track. He died when he was 18, shot 31 times in D.C. A 16-year-old kid was just arrested for his murder. It’s almost safe to say that the best years of his life came from that Academy … and yet the staff running it have to be people to invest money and time.”

Several from the baseball world and beyond took to Twitter to laud Desmond for his Instagram post, which concluded with his decision to not play during the 2020 MLB season.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking. With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”

On Tuesday, the Rockies announced they would sign former All-Star Matt Kemp to replace Desmond.

Then, in a show of support, the team reposted Desmond’s entire essay to Twitter.

However, FOX Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb, although supportive of Desmond’s decision as a father, argues that Desmond could actually hurt the cause he’s fighting for by not playing in 2020.

“Part of the reason so many kids – black kids, white kids – are drawn to basketball is the cool factor. We emulate the people we see do it. Obviously, you have a favorite player growing up … But then there is somebody you felt particularly drawn to, maybe because he was from your area, or more likely, because he might look like you … Here’s my question for Ian Desmond … Could you make the argument that you’re hurting the very population that you wanna help by staying home? You’re taking away one more black face from baseball.”

In recent weeks, the MLB has joined Desmond in speaking out on the racial issues faces America by amplifying the voices of its black players, including Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford.

On Monday, the MLB and its players also tipped their caps to the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues.

Hank Aaron, Derek Jeter, Clayton Kershaw, Ozzie Smith and others joined in the festivities, as well as the game’s greatest current player, Mike Trout.

The 60-game MLB season is set to begin on July 23 and 24.

We’ll see what additional statements the MLB and its players make before and after Opening Day.