CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - No fans in the stands? No problem.
The Cleveland Indians got creative when figuring out ways to fill the empty seats for Opening Day as fans are forced to watch the game social-distanced style amid the pandemic.
Cue the advertising tarps over entire sections and spaced out cardboard cutouts of Tribe fans, which were nearly following CDC guidelines.
Among the cutouts is Nicholas Cage, which may seem random until you remember the Indians’ running gag that involved the movie star’s face being photoshopped onto 39 of their lineup graphics without any fans noticing until the organization finally revealed it.
The cutouts are going to be there all season long.
The MLB said it will be showing their support for social justice on Opening Day after welcoming “open and constructive dialogue” with the MLBPA, individual players, and The Players Alliance about ways players can demonstrate their support for diversity and inclusion, especially in their sport.
In addition to showing solidarity for social justice on Friday, the Cleveland Indians will also show support for those on the front lines of battling the coronavirus crisis and honor those who lost their life from it.
The Ceremonial First Pitch, which was pre-recorded due to the pandemic, will be thrown by Cleveland Clinic caregiver from the Fairview Medical/Surgical COVID-19 unit Aleta Wissner.
A pre-recorded version of the National Anthem by the string section of the Cleveland Orchestra and a pre-recorded rendition of God Bless America from the Cleveland Orchestra will be played.
The Frito Lay Play Ball introduction will show a pre-taped video from some of the Cleveland Clinic’s frontline heroes.
The Indians will also set aside a few moments during the pregame to recognize social justice initiatives and for a moment of silence for lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MLB said it, “supports the players’ need to express themselves. Because the manner in which players desire to express themselves will vary among our diverse population, we want to provide flexibility for players to show their support for social justice in a way that is consistent with their individual values and personalities.”
To allow players to express themselves, they will have the option to wear the following items for Opening Day, which the players directed and guided the organization to select:
- Black Lives Matter batting practice t-shirt or a t-shirt designed or obtained by a Club or its players
- A patch, which reads “Black Lives Matter” or “United For Change,” that can be affixed to the player’s sleeve
- Wristbands featuring an inverted MLB logo where the silhouetted batter is black. Opening Day will mark the first time this logo will be worn on the field.
Clubs will also be invited to stencil the inverted MLB logo the back of the mound with either the message, “BLM” or “United for Change.”
The MLB said it will lift its creat restrictions for the 2020 season to allow players more freedom to express themselves, including with the use of social justice messages and causes.
In their message announcing their support for social justice to be at the forefront on Opening Day, the MLB said:
“MLB stands in solidarity with the Black community in the fight for racial and social justice. Since the death of George Floyd, MLB has enhanced existing partnerships with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, made new charitable investments in the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, launched the new MLB Diverse Business Partners Recovery Project, utilized MLB social media platforms and MLB Network to amplify the voices of Black MLB active and retired players and allies, established a pro bono volunteer program to drive social impact and business value for social justice organizations and minority-owned businesses and launched a new comprehensive social justice resources webpage (www.mlb.com/social-justice) to promote education and conversation around social justice issues.
In addition, MLB utilized the MLB Draft to show solidarity with the movement and highlight a collective effort from the Club Baseball Operations group. Individual donations from Club reps, combined with matches from Major League Baseball and Club owners, totaled more than $1.1 million to Campaign Zero, Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative, Jackie Robinson Foundation and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
MLB recognizes more needs to be done. MLB will continue to listen to the Black community including MLB players, The Players Alliance and MLB and Club staff about this issue; enhance initiatives to improve Black representation in baseball on and off-the-field; expand charitable donations to social justice organizations; and continue to amplify the voices of our players.”