The National Anthem Controversy Rears Its Boring Head in MLB, Again

San Francisco manager Bob Melvin is requiring the Giants to stand on the field for the anthem

San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin.
San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin is requiring his team to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Norm Hall/Getty

Way back in September of 2017, Black rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell made Major League Baseball history when he became the first MLB player to take a stand against social injustice by taking a knee during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” prior to Oakland Athletics taking the field. None of Maxwell’s teammates or coaches, including manager Bob Melvin, joined Maxwell in his silent protest.

Nowadays Maxwell is out of MLB and Melvin has taken his talents across the Bay following a disastrous stretch of managing the San Diego Padres and is about to start the season on the bench in San Francisco managing the Giants. A Bay Area native and former Giants player who also managed the Mariners and Diamondbacks before spending a decade in Oakland, Melvin has apparently updated his policy on the national anthem since his time managing Maxwell and is now requiring every person on his team to stand for the playing of the Stars and Stripes. And “every person on the team” really means every person on the team, including players, coaches, trainers, batboys and all the catchers, pitchers and staffers in the bullpen.

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Under Melvin’s predecessor in San Fran, Gabe Kapler, the anthem was treated as a “no wrong answer” situation and he personally stopped stepping on the field for the song in the wake of the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022. According to Melvin, his mandate has nothing to do with reversing the policy Kapler put in place and also has nothing to do with patriotism or politics.

“A lot of things I’m doing aren’t an indictment on something that didn’t happen before I was here,” Melvin told The Athletic. “It’s just what I like to see. They’ve embraced it, I think. The group is out there and we’re ready to go. It’s all about the perception that we’re out there ready to play. That’s it. You want your team ready to play and I want the other team to notice it, too. It’s really as simple as that.”

Simple? Super. Also boring as hell at this point? You bet.

Regardless of personal preferences about what one should or should not do during the playing of the national anthem, the topic has become a very, very tired one at this point. Instead of there being buzz about the Giants and what the signing of third baseman Matt Chapma to a one-year, $18 million contract could mean for the team, all of the chatter regarding San Francisco’s baseball team is focused on Melvin and his national anthem policy. It shouldn’t be, but is has nothing to do with politics, patriotism, propriety or standing or kneeling. It has to do with boredom.

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