SBD/September 18, 2013/Franchises

Nationals Try To Restore Normalcy In Wake Of Nearby Navy Yard Shooting

Nats players were honored with Navy caps, but MLB did not allow them in the game
The Nationals’ doubleheader against the Braves yesterday "couldn’t help but be marked by reminders" of Monday’s Navy Yard shooting, which occurred near Nationals Park, according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST. Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Sandy Winnefeld before the first game "walked through the Nationals’ clubhouse issuing Navy hats, dark blue emblazoned with gold ‘N’s, to players." The team "wore those hats during warmups, and they donned their patriotic jerseys -- dark blue with a script ‘W’ decorated with red-and-white stars." Both teams stood outside their dugouts at 12:55pm ET as PA announcer Jerome Hruska's voice "thundered in acknowledgement of the shootings," and he then "asked for a moment of silence" that lasted one minute. The team on Monday "worked with the Red Cross to provide blankets, chairs, restrooms and food" to families impacted by the shooting, and staff also "helped get food to employees detained inside the Navy Yard" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/18). In DC, Amanda Comak noted the Nationals were "honored" to accept the Navy hats, despite the fact that MLB rules prevented them from being used in the game. Winnefeld came to the ballpark to "offer his thanks to the Nationals for what they did" Monday (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 9/17).

AN ATTEMPT AT NORMALCY: The AP's Joseph White wrote of yesterday's doubleheader, "It was another attempt from the world of sports to restore normalcy when things really aren't normal." Fans "arrived via the Navy Yard subway station, although they were sparse in number because Monday's game was rescheduled on short notice." Much of the "chaos that engulfed the ballpark 24 hours earlier was gone," and fans "saw no overt signs of extra security at the ballpark" (AP, 9/17). Nationals CF Denard Span said, "There’s a lot of hurt families out there. We just want to try to do our part, hopefully, trying to help it. There’s nothing we can do to replace the lives that were lost yesterday" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/17).

SHOULD MLB HAVE BENDED ON RULE? ESPN's Keith Olbermann cited a source as saying some Nationals players "did not want to take the Navy caps off" once the games began. However, Olbermann said by adhering to the policy of not wearing those caps during play, the Nats and MLB were "symbolically declaring ... that the grief was over and the mourning was over and the regular caps were back on and available online and at souvenir stands and from stadium vendors." Olbermann: "Navy hats: fine while there's no live television available throughout the world of the game. Once the cameras go on, the tribute caps come off." That the "hero caps are of value to the community, to the city, to those slightly removed from the tragedy -- that probably cannot be debated." It "acknowledges and it empathizes and it humanizes and to humanize is to begin to heal." The Nats wore Virginia Tech caps after the mass shooting on the school's campus in '07, which "might have been the last time the Commissioner's office said OK to something like this." Olbermann: "Since then, whenever the right thing has involved wearing something as stupid and different as a baseball cap, Major League Baseball has made sure it tried as hard as it could to not do that right thing." Olbermann: "Baseball chooses all the time what its teams can or will memorialize, whether it's a patch on a uniform or a jersey hanging in a dugout. ... Baseball again refused to let the New York Mets wear those hero caps just last week on 9-11-13 and now one may infer the message has gotten through to the teams that baseball will not allow respect or simple human decency when profit is at stake." MLB "can't make money off U.S. Navy baseball caps because those belong to the Navy, so the players can't wear them on television" ("Olbermann," ESPN, 9/17).
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