By all means, even with the after-effects of the steroid era and allegations that the ball is being juiced for more home runs, the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game is supposed to be a fun night. In an exhibition game that actually means something — the winning team, either American or National, gets home field advantage in October’s World Series — players will come together to usually honor legends who are either about to call it quits or rode off into the sunset long ago.
Really, the All-Star Game is when old meets new, a mentality perfectly displayed on a night in which Major League Baseball announced that the batting titles for the American and National League would be renamed after former Twins legend Rod Carew and Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn respectively. This wasn’t the only blast to the past for baseball fans as Padres legend Trevor Hoffman delivered the game ball and former San Diego Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones threw out the first pitch, seemingly setting everything up for a perfect night in Southern California — one where the focus after first pitch would likely be on Boston’s David Ortiz, who has made it clear he plans to retire after this season.
Instead, the start of the 87th Mid-Summer Classic was marred by a controversy from an unexpected source: the pregame celebration.
As is per tradition for most big-time sporting events, both the Canadian and American national anthems were performed prior to first pitch; The Tenors, a group based out of British Columbia, would be performing “O, Canada” prior to Columbia Records’ Rachel Platten’s singing of the National Anthem. No problems there, right?
Well, that would be wrong. Rather than sing the normal lyric of “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free,” the Tenors instead sang: “We’re all brothers and sisters. All lives matter to the great.” A sign was also held up by the British Colombian group that read “All Lives Matter” on the front and “United We Stand” on the back.
“All Lives Matter”, of course, is a play on words of “Black Lives Matter,” the group and movement dedicated to preventing violence against African-Americans from authority figures such as police officers. After recent shootings of unarmed black men by police, notable celebrities — including The Game and T.I. — have taken part in rallies supporting the movement and attempting to encourage brotherhood.
The use of the term “All Lives Matter” is viewed as offensive and ignorant due to the (normally unintended) suggestion that black lives are relatively unimportant compared to other lives. Shortly after 7 p.m. on the west coast, the following was posted on The Tenors’ official Twitter account.
— The Tenors (@TenorsMusic) July 13, 2016
Not counting Pereria, the Tenors consist of Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, and Victor Micallef. This year’s MLB All-Star Game was not the first time the group has performed at a high-profile sports event, as the Tenors performed at both the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies in Vancouver and the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings.
Needless to say, the event in question offended many in attendance though the controversy was not seen at first by most viewers. Major League Baseball on FOX, who had television rights to the game in the United States, only showed the playing of the national anthem; commentators Joe Buck and John Smoltz, who himself was an eight-time All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, did not make note of the incident when Chicago’s Chris Sale delivered the first pitch for the American League.
Bruce Arthur, a Canada-based columnist with the Toronto Star, wrote the following on his verified Twitter account on Tuesday night.
Oh Canada/We have some racists here/Some of them sing/in voices dumb and clear
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) July 13, 2016
As for the game itself, the American League defeated the National League by a 4-2 final score with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber getting the win, San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto — who started the game for the Senior Circut — taking the loss, and Baltimore’s Chris Britton recording the save. Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, an All-Star for the first time in his six-year career, was named the game’s MVP following a 2-3 showing with a solo home run in the second inning off Cueto.
As part of a sponsorship with Chevrolet, Hosmer then went on to pick a Chevy Colorado as his reward for helping the American League win their fourth straight All-Star Game and their sixteenth in the past 20 tries. Hosmer, who is 10 home runs shy of one hundred for his career, becomes the first Royals player to win the All-Star Game MVP since Bo Jackson did so in 1989.
A three-time Gold Glover, Hosmer is also the first Major Leaguer to win All-Star MVP in his first year as an All-Star since former teammate Melky Cabrera accomplished the feat in 2012 with the San Francisco Giants. The fact that Hosmer is most likely excited about, though, is that the Giants won the World Series that same season.
Could that be a potential sign of things to come for Hosmer and the Royals? As Kansas City manager Ned Yost told Buck during the broadcast, they’re going to need a lot of help in the American League to make their third straight postseason, but Hosmer could be the key to a second straight World Series for the Crowns if he plays the way he did on Tuesday night.
[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]