Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Athletes should be lauded for pointing out injustice

Lebron James can do a lot more than just "shut up and play." Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Every-Thing Sports

By: Jermaine Every

“Shut up and dribble.” That statement has been a hot topic. So has social commentary in general from athletes. I’m not sure why the public has such an issue with athletes speaking out on the societal issues they feel strongly about.

I’m sure John Carlos and Tommie Smith faced some backlash when they raised their black-gloved fists at the 1968 Olympics. But that was during an era in which blacks were still fighting for civil rights and equality. That fight isn’t over. Neither are other issues at the forefront of our society. The “#MeToo” movement comes to mind. Which is why I can’t understand why we haven’t heard the phrase “shut up and act” or “shut up and sing?”

Actors and other entertainers have always taken a stand against societal issues and provided social commentary via their various forms of art. Whether it’s a commercial, a song, or a gesture or wardrobe statement, they’ve made their feelings known for years. Frequently, top actors and actresses have used award ceremonies to voice their opinions. Singers have made songs about their views and opinions. So why has it become taboo for athletes to do the same?

One of the reasons I feel it’s an issue for athletes is because a lot of them have been blacks and minorities speaking out on this country’s treatment of blacks and other minorities. This started with the Civil Rights Movement. Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, and many others used their star power as pro athletes to further the Movement. Anthem protests were sparked by police brutality and killing of unarmed blacks and minorities. The president has made himself a very polarizing figure with some outlandish actions and statements, most of which have caused a ripple of divisiveness in our country. Some have caused athletes and entertainers to speak out. However, the athletes are the only ones to get flack.

The “#MeToo” movement was started because of sexual assault/harassment allegations against some of the movie/television industries top executives, actors, and actresses. This shined a light on some ugliness that has been going on behind the scenes of our entertainment industry. Recently, there have been some allegations against college basketball programs paying players as a result of an F.B.I. investigation. I know there are different departments that handle different things. But why is it that women feel unheard reporting these allegations to authorities, yet we have task forces dedicated to finding out who’s paying what college basketball player?

I’m not lost on the fact that these two issues are completely different. I’m not trying to downplay either one either. I have a close friend who was the victim of sexual assault. It hurt to find out what happened years later and knowing I wasn’t there for her. I’ve also seen what those illegal payments have done for some of those athletes and their families.

The one thing that has pissed me off more than anything is the way the media, and our society as a whole, has treated athletes who speak out against social injustice, or societal issues they feel strongly about. The “#MeToo” movement was seen as shedding light on the horrific behavior of people in power. But when LeBron James speaks out against societal inequities, which are painfully obvious, he gets vitriol spewed his way? Injustice is injustice no matter how you slice it. Whether it’s sexual assault, police brutality, racism, sexism, or any kind of ugliness that plagues our society, anyone who chooses to speak out against it should be afforded the same opportunity. I don’t give a damn if it’s an older white NBA coach like Gregg Popovich speaking out on social injustice regarding blacks and other minorities, or if it’s the men affected by harassment or assault in the #MeToo movement, everyone is afforded that right under the First Amendment. And yes, you’re also afforded the right to offer rebuttal or critical commentary under the First Amendment as well. However, in the interest of being a decent human being, shut the hell up criticizing people speaking out on the obvious injustices that plague our society.

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Jose Urquidy is a surprising choice to start Game 2. Photo by Getty Images.

After a long and tumultuous season, the Houston Astros made it to their 3rd World Series in five years and will take on the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night.

Houston had the better overall regular season record, so games 1 & 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park while games 3-5 will be held at Truist Park in Atlanta.

(If necessary, the final two contests will be played back at Minute Maid Park).

The Braves got this far by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS 3-1 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games (4-2).

Atlanta prevailed with timely hitting from guys like Joc Pederson, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario performing like an MVP this postseason.

The Braves received solid pitching outings from guys like Ian Anderson, Max Fried and former Astro Charlie Morton.

Atlanta used clutch hitting and solid pitching to make to their first World Series since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros made it back to the World Series by defeating the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1 and out-slugged the Red Sox four games to two.

According to Fox Bet, the Astros are favored at -154 to win the World Series. This is certainly an obtainable goal for Houston's team as they have the experience, hitting and pitching to compete with anyone.

Can Houston's bats stay hot?

The most intriguing matchup this series will be the Astros' bats facing off against this Braves pitching staff. On paper, Houston's lineup seems to be favored for their depth. Jose Altuve at the top of the batting order is always a threat to get on base, and behind him are a plethora of hitters who can drive in multiple runs.

The two best bats this postseason thus far for the Astros are ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 batting average) and this year's American League batting title champion Yuli Gurriel (.455 batting average). The Cuban natives have lit up pitching and will look to continue their torrid hitting in the World Series.

Other Astros who could be impactful at the plate against the Braves include Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. All three of their batting average's in the .200's respectfully and could come up big at any time.

This lineup is so deep, Atlanta's pitchers won't receive many breaks, if at all this series.

Will the pitching step up again?

Losing Lance McCullers Jr. for the World Series certainly isn't ideal, but not impossible to overcome as proven in the ALCS against the Red Sox.

Framber Valdez pitched the best game of his career when he threw 8 innings and surrendered only one run in Game 3, while Luis Garcia had his best start of the postseason and received the Game 6 win. Both of these pitchers have stepped up in McCullers' absence and will have a huge impact on the series. Valdez is set to start Game 1 on Tuesday night.

If Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke can also pitch deeper into games, there will be less stress on the bullpen and give the Astros a better chance to stay in games. And we won't have to wait long to see Urquidy, as he will start Game 2, according to Astros manager Dusty Baker.

In an ideal scenario, the Astros' starting pitchers should throw six innings of work and let Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly closeout games as they have all season.

Of course this is the best-case scenario, which doesn't always happen, but other arms can be used to bridge the gaps that include Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia in short relief outings and Cristian Javier and Jake Odorizzi can pitch multiple innings if needed.

Even if a starter has a clunker of a start, this bullpen has done a great job of keeping things close and setting up the Astros for success.

Will this be Carlos Correa's "Last Dance" with Astros?

One can only imagine what is going on in Carlos Correa's mind right now. No one is implying that the free agent to be will not be focused this series, but it's hard to fathom this upcoming offseason isn't a distraction right now.

The 27-year-old shortstop is set to receive multiple offers from different teams and land one of the richest contracts once this season concludes.

If this truly is his final season with the Astros, why not go out on top and win one more title before moving on?

Let's hope this "Last Dance" for Correa is a slow one, so we can all enjoy it a little longer.

Will Dusty's experience prove to be a difference-maker?

Dusty Baker's experience could be beneficial for Houston's chances of hoisting another trophy as he has managed teams in parts of 24 seasons.

He's the only skipper to ever lead five franchises to the postseason and obtain more than 2,000 career victories.

This is the second time he as taken a club to the World Series. He took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the Fall Classic but lost to the Angels in seven games.

It's safe to assume the 72-year-old seems eager to win his first championship as a manager to cap off a Hall of Fame career.

Final projection

As previously mentioned, the Astros are favored to win this series. If Houston can continue to stay hot at the plate, receive solid outings from their pitchers and just play Astros baseball, there is a good chance this city will have yet another Commissioner's Trophy in their display case.

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