St. Louis Cardinals players Kolten Wong and Jose Martinez are the latest victims of Major League Baseball’s crackdown on arm sleeves.
Major League Baseball informed St. Louis Cardinals second basemen Kolten Wong he will be fined if he continues to wear his arm sleeve showing the Hawaiian emblem. This comes after MLB told Jose Martinez the same thing about his Venezuela flag themed arm sleeve. The reason being, those sleeves are not a product of an approved brand à la Nike.
Kolten Wong has done everything he can to bring awareness of the devastation to his home state. One of those things was wearing an arm sleeve to bring attention. It wasn’t hurting anyone, it wasn’t a distraction, it was a small part of a larger message.
Jose Martinez, a native Venezuelan, had been wearing an arm sleeve depicting the flag of his home country. If you are unaware, Venezuelans have gone through turmoil of their own. Without going too in-depth, Venezuela’s government has brought upon a country-wide crisis. Starvation is running rampant in Jose’s home country and the food available is unreasonably overpriced. This has led to extreme weight loss, illness and even death.
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So, Martinez and Wong were not wearing these sleeves because they thought they were cool, they were wearing them to send a message. The old farts of the baseball world will say, if it doesn’t match the jersey it shouldn’t be worn. The old farts are wrong. There are things in the world larger than petty issues like that.
We pride ourselves in where we come from. Everyone has a certain sense of hometown pride. All these two were doing were trying to bring awareness to problems in their homes. It shouldn’t matter that they weren’t Nike or Under Armour. It shouldn’t matter that they didn’t match the rest of the uniform. What should matter is the message they were sending.
This is a bad look for Major League Baseball. They are essentially showing that they care more about what a player wears than the message these players are trying to send. In the grand scheme of the game a sleeve is miniscule, but the message these guys were trying to share was far larger. It’s disappointing they won’t be able to do it anymore. Shame on you MLB.
If you would like to help Kolten Wong with his efforts to help Hawaii in their time of need, go here. If you would like to do something to help the people of Venezuela there are a variety of ways to help including donating via Mercy Corps.