Maxwell took a knee before an A’s-Rangers game in September 2017, a day after President Trump, at a rally in the catcher’s native state of Alabama, called on NFL owners to “fire” any “son of a bitch” who didn’t stand during the anthem. Maxwell staged similar protests of racial injustice before subsequent games that season.
“The point of my kneeling was not to disrespect our military or our constitution or our country. My hand was over my heart because I love this country and I have family members, including my father, who bled for this country, and who continue to serve,” Maxwell told reporters after the Rangers game. He said that “our fearless leader right now is expressing that it’s okay to judge people by the color of their skin,” and to “to separate people by their differences.”
“That’s not okay,” Maxwell said. “There’s not been one time Donald Trump has tried to sit in our seat.”
Just over a month later, Maxwell was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, after a woman said he pointed a gun at her when she delivered food to his home. Police said he lowered the gun after the woman explained why she was there, and he was sentenced in July to two years of probation.
“It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest,” an MLB executive told the San Francisco Chronicle as the winter meetings came to a close on Thursday. “Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”
When Maxwell arrived for spring training with the A’s earlier this year, he said he was not going to continue to stage protests, telling the media, “The purpose of the gesture was to raise awareness about social issues affecting our country, and while I’m looking forward to a society that is inclusive, empathetic and a welcoming place, I will not continue the symbolic gesture of taking a knee during our national anthem this season.”
At that point, he was expected to be the A’s starting catcher, but Maxwell reportedly showed up out of shape and did not perform well in the spring, leading to the team’s signing of veteran Jonathan Lucroy. While Lucroy became Oakland’s mainstay at the position, Maxwell appeared in just 18 games for Oakland, batting .182 with a .516 OPS, and after being sent to the minors he was designated for assignment in September, rather than being called back up the big league roster.
“I just don’t see him as a fit for us,” a National League scout said Thursday to the Chronicle. “He’s on the older side and there is too much baggage. He might have to play independent ball to try to work his way back.”
Before this past season, Maxwell had shown some promise in his first two MLB campaigns, both with the A’s, who made him a second-round pick in 2012. Over 109 games and 354 plate appearances in 2016 and 2017, he batted .251 with a .685 OPS, and he displayed an ability to block balls behind the plate and throw runners out.
The controversy over player protests during the anthem has largely died down during this NFL season, as only a small handful of football players are still staging them and Trump has mostly focused his attention elsewhere. However, the NFL player who originated the demonstrations, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepenick, has been pursuing a grievance filing against the league while accusing team owners of colluding to keep him unemployed since he became a free agent in March 2017.
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