JOHN GRANATO

Kaepernick, Nike pour more gas on a combustible fire

Colin Kaepernick jerseys say a lot. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I saw a man wearing a 49ers No. 7 jersey at the LSU-Miami game Sunday night. It meant something. He was making a statement about who he was and where he was coming from.

Is there another jersey in any sport that has that kind of power, that makes that kind of statement politically or socially? I don’t think so.

It doesn’t matter which side you’re on on this issue. I have my opinion, you have yours and I know I’m not going to change yours no matter what I say. Like most everything these days it’s two sides screaming their positions at each other, not hearing or caring what the other side feels or says.

I have not once on Twitter seen someone say, “That’s a good point” or “I hadn’t thought of that. You’ve changed my mind on this.”

Nope.

It’s pretty much been mud slinging, race baiting, Democrat vs Republican, Trump lovers vs Trump haters, black vs white, woke vs I don’t know what that means, old vs young, conservative vs liberal and on and on and blah blee blah blee blah….

I personally don’t like anyone disrespecting our flag but I respect anyone’s right to do it.

It’s sad that there are black Americans who feel that our flag represents a country that doesn’t treat their race equally. But that’s the case.

I also get that people are offended by kneeling during the Anthem. That flag means something to them. It’s what’s draped over the caskets of our dead soldiers. It’s what people have died for for centuries.

I get that I can’t choose what form of protest people use. I wish it wasn’t the flag but it is. That’s why some soldiers are OK with it because they fought for the freedom to choose your form of protest. It’s what makes America great. We can protest however we want. It’s how we beat England and became The United States of America.

I also get that some soldiers hate it because they fought for that flag. It means something to them. They risked their lives defending that flag and don’t want it disrespected.

I’m not sure if Colin Kaepernick knew how big this would get when he sat then kneeled those first few times. It’s incredible. And it will be interesting to see how this affects Nike. It’ll be a case study for economists: the long-term effects of an advertising campaign based on a polarizing topic.

How many times has the word Nike been written or spoken since the campaign started? They said in the first 24 hours Nike received $43 million in free media advertising. It doesn’t offset their 3.16% stock price hit on the first day of trading but they are in this for the long haul. Analysts feel it will bounce back in a big way. I’m pretty sure they expected to take some hits early on.

I don’t believe their ad campaign is accurate though. Kaepernick didn’t sacrifice everything. He still has millions from his 49ers deal and he’s been getting paid by Nike all this time while he basically sat on the bench for them. All he really sacrificed was a chance to be a backup quarterback in the NFL.

Whether he wanted to or not he’s traded that in to be the face of a movement. He is this century’s Jim Brown only bigger.

He will be a symbol for a long time to come; a symbol that many love and many hate. It’s pretty black and white. There’s not much gray here.

Are you a kneeler or a stander? Are you team Nike now or burning your shoes?

It sure would be nice if we could back on track though. The real issue is still the inequitable treatment of blacks in this country. Anyone remember that? Anyone care to address that instead of this flag thing?

Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks Nike. Just what we needed: more gas on that fire.


 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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