Making the right decision ‘wasn’t necessarily easy’ for the Red Sox

Former San Antonio Missions manager Ron Roenicke has had his hands full in his first season as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

To this point, the Red Sox haven’t quite figured it out on the field, struggling to a 10-21 record. For a franchise that traditionally has been one of baseball’s best over the past two decades, times are tough.

Nevertheless, Roenicke might have enjoyed one of his finest hours in his job Thursday afternoon in Buffalo.

The game between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays had been called off, postponed as one of 10 in the majors scrapped in the last 44 hours since a wave of protest in professional sports commenced.

The protest has centered on the nation’s latest crisis on race relations, the tragic shooting of an African-American citizen by a police officer in Wisconsin.

“You know, this is a really important time in our country, and what are we going to do?” Roenicke asked. “These (athletes) have a platform to discuss some things that are serious issues … (things) that we need to straighten out.”

Roenicke, a California native, has roots in San Antonio.

He played for the San Antonio Dodgers as a minor league outfielder in 1978 and 1979. He also managed here in the 1990s, leading the 1997 San Antonio Missions to the Texas League title.

His leadership showed up again Thursday in handling a sticky situation that evolved after Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., the team’s only black player, told management that he planned to sit out the Thursday night finale of a three-game series against the Blue Jays.

After Bradley made his intentions clear, the Red Sox engaged in discussions that led to a 4 p.m. team meeting at Sahlen Field, according to a published report at masslive.com.

“It was not an easy decision for a lot of us,” outfielder Kevin Pillar told the website. “We do stand with Jackie and we want to be in support of him, but a lot of us understand that us playing is an escape for a lot of people and the realities going on in the world. It is an opportunity for a lot of people to get away from the news and all the evil and bad that’s going on and be a distraction. This is what we do. It’s our responsibilities as athletes to come to the field and play.

“Ultimately, we came to a decision as a group that it is one game,” Pillar added. “It is a game but the power and impact that we have standing with those guys and their decision hopefully speaks volumes. We all believe we made the right decision even though it wasn’t necessarily an easy one.”

Speaking at the meeting were Bradley and Red Sox coach Tom Goodwin, a former Missions player. Bradley told the players why he planned to sit out and also said he would be OK with everyone if they wanted to play.

Goodwin, who is black, discussed “reasons why it might be prudent” for the Red Sox to play the game as scheduled, according to masslive.com. The Red Sox ultimately decided as a group to support Bradley and not play.

“A lot has been placed on him and that’s important to all of us,” Roenicke told masslive.com. “It’s important to these players, realizing that Jackie is our lone Black player on the team and they want to support him in any way they can. Just supporting in what we did today is telling him, ‘Jack, we’re hearing what you’re saying, we’re hearing what the rest of the guys are saying, we want to make a difference and we want to support you in any way we can.’ ”

In a video produced by the Red Sox, Roenicke encouraged baseball fans to have meaningful conversations about race. At home. At work. He said talks about sensitive issues are important.

“We understand how important baseball is,” Roenicke said. We’re playing through a pandemic. We know it’s all important. But we know the issues in life are more important …

“If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight … and you ask your parents, ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox on?” I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kid.

“We need to discuss these things more. We need to listen more. That’s the only way we’re going to change,” Roenicke said. “There needs to be a change in this great country that we live in.”

Baylor beats Texas, 74-73, in double OT for fourth straight win

Forward Terry Maston scored 26 points Monday night as the Baylor Bears beat the Texas Longhorns, 74-73, in double overtime.

In a hotly-contested Big 12 Conference game played at Austin, Texas guard Kerwin Roach II scored on a layup with 21 seconds left, lifting the Longhorns into a 73-72 lead.

But Baylor answered on the other end, with guard Manu Lecomte driving and missing a layup that 7-foot center Jo Lual-Acuil, Jr., followed with a dunk for the game-winning points.

With the win, the Bears improved to 16-10 and 6-7 in the Big 12 to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

The Longhorns, alternately, fell to 15-11 and 5-8 after a performance regarded as damaging to their NCAA chances.

Baylor built an eight-point lead with four minutes left in regulation and couldn’t hold it.

With 12 seconds left, Matt Coleman knocked down two free throws to cap a UT rally and tie the game, 56-56.

Baylor, on the last possession, passed it to forward Nuni Omot, who missed a wide-open, off-balance three.

Lual-Acuil’s follow shot from close range bounced off the rim at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

In the first OT, Maston produced two quick baskets and hit two free throws in the opening minutes.

A jumper by Lecomte gave the Bears a 64-60 lead with 45 seconds left.

But once again, Texas didn’t flinch.

The Longhorns rallied to tie on two free throws each by Coleman and Roach.

When Lecomte missed a long three-pointer with two seconds left, the game moved into the second OT tied, 64-64.

Quotable

Baylor forward Terry Maston said the Bears are “just clicking right now on offense and defense.”

“Our zone has been really tough and Manu (Lecomte) is really leading us,” Maston said in comments posted on the UT website. “He’s hitting big shots and Jo (Lual-Acuil Jr.) is getting big rebounds. Me, Nuni (Omot) and Mark (Vital), I mean everybody, is just really playing well.”

As Texas players held a post-game meeting in the dressing room, Longhorns coach Shaka Smart described the mood as angry.

“They’re really, really upset and some of those guys are really angry, because it was a game that they really put their egos aside and really came together in terms of attacking and hanging in there together,” Smart said. “But obviously, we came up one stop short or one basket short depending on how you’re looking at it. The guys are really upset.”

Texas notes

The Longhorns have lost three straight and four of their last five. Four of their losses in conference have come by three points or less.

Texas freshman center Mo Bamba produced 16 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. He hit 7 of 17 from the field.

Dylan Osetkowski, Coleman and Roach all scored 15 for the Longhorns, who shot poorly as a team at 36.1 percent.

Baylor notes

Baylor’s Terry Maston, a senior from Desoto, is the nephew of former Texas Tech star Tony Battie.

Bears guard Jake Lindsey is the son of Dennis Lindsey, the general manager of the Utah Jazz. Dennis Lindsey worked as assistant general manager of the Spurs from 2007-12.

Lecomte finished with 16 points and 7 assists. He struggled shooting the ball, hitting only 5 of 15.

Lual-Acuil had a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.

Baylor swept two games from Texas this season, both in grind-it-out fashion. The Bears won 69-60 in Waco on Jan. 6.

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UTSA will host ‘Hoop Dreams’ duo tonight at the Bird Cage

Brothers Will Gates, Jr. (left) and Jalon Gates play for the Houston Baptist Huskies. Courtesy: Houston Baptist athletics

The sons of former Chicago basketball playground legend William Gates, a subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Hoop Dreams,” will play in San Antonio tonight.

Senior William Gates, Jr. and his brother, sophomore Jalon Gates, are members of the Houston Baptist University Huskies.

The Huskies (3-6) and the UTSA Roadrunners (5-5) will play tonight at 7 on the UTSA campus, at the Convocation Center.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for the Gates brothers, who both played in high school locally at Clemens.

Gates, Jr., a transfer from Furman, starts for the Huskies and averages 8.7 points on 56.5 percent shooting from the field.

Jalon Gates comes off the bench and averages 9.7 points. Gates leads HBU with 40 percent shooting from three-point distance.

The Gates brothers, both of them guards, will have their hands full with the Roadrunners.

UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson leads the team in scoring (17.6) and is coming off a 31-point game at Oklahoma.

Jackson and fellow freshman guard Keaton Wallace (14.4) have combined to hit 52 of UTSA’s 104 three-pointers.