October 16, 2021

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The environment affects baseball.  These guys want to help.

The environment affects baseball. These guys want to help.

Flying across North America every week is part of being a top leaguer. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers traveled as far as San Diego and Miami as part of this year’s 162-game regular season. Now multiply that by the 30 teams across Major League Baseball.

The makers of loyal Brewers Brent Suter can’t help but think about the amount of fuel being burned and the number of emissions emitted during all those flights. Since he helped The Brewers reach the post-season for a franchise record for the fourth consecutive season, he’s worried about the planet.

“The fact that you can go anywhere you want, it’s not sustainable,” he said before a recent game. “We can’t keep adding carbon to the atmosphere, not offsetting it, and not setting limits on curbing it in any industries, and we’re still looking in every nook and cranny in the world for fossil fuels.”

With the continuation of human activity Climate change Hotter summers, stronger hurricanes, more floods, and wildlife at greater risk – no part of the community will be affected. That includes baseball, where the majority of MLB games are at the mercy of the elements on the outdoors. Sport has already seen some of these influences.

“We were in Auckland last year preparing for the series, and the batting practice has been canceled for the two days and a About to cancel games Because of smoke from forest fires. “The air quality was really bad,” Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks said of the California fires at the time. “I know this has been a problem there as well this year. Hopefully people will wake up and understand that our planet needs to be taken care of in a wonderful way.”

About MLB clubs – where topics like the environment don’t come up very often – a few players have been upset by the state of the world and are trying to do something about it, even in modest ways. While the players said that the biggest force to bring about change lies with the larger bodies – governments and companies, LeaguesTeams – many of them are leading efforts inside and outside their clubs.

While with the Detroit Tigers, Daniel Norris, who is now a Brewers rider, said he used to provide his teammates and key employees with reusable cups that the company gave him. And when he saw his teammates throw used water bottles into the trash, Norris used humor to remind them of the impact of their choices.

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Norris, 28, said earlier this year, adding later, “If I do it enough, maybe they’ll eventually change or if they see me go and take the bottle out of the trash and put it in the recycling.”

Sutter, 32, who studied environmental science and public policy at Harvard University, said he constantly asked his teammates to refill their plastic bottles from water coolers rather than looking for a new one. “I don’t want to be, like, too upset about it,” he said, “but it has to be said.”

The amount of waste generated in the clubs prompted Chris Dickerson to form a nonprofit organization called Players for the Planet, which Norris, Sutter, and others joined. While Dickerson was with the Louisville Bats, a tier AAA division of the Cincinnati Reds, prior to being called up to the Major League in 2008, he had a locker near the club’s trash. He was annoyed by what he saw.

After batting practice on a hot, humid day, Dickerson, 39, counted 500 bottles thrown away. In an average week, it was estimated that 2,000 bottles were thrown away. Between 120 minor teams and 30 major teams, he started adding an estimated 300,000 players using each day. “We play 162 matches,” he said.

Over the years, Dickerson has helped build a network of athletes, now numbering nearly 100, who have felt similarly about green initiatives. The nonprofit has, among other projects, organized e-waste groups, helped some MLB teams with their own environmental efforts, led tree planting, created an online Spanish-language course on plastic pollution for players at academies in the Dominican Republic, and held beach cleanups there with Senior and junior league players.

“In our case, the Dominicans, we are an island, and the waste affects us more than anyone else,” Nelson Cruz, 41, a brave Tampa Bay Rays player who took part in a cleanup in 2019 with Amed Rosario, said earlier. general. “All that trash we throw away comes back to us.”

“I try to encourage my teammates to do the same things I do with canteens,” said Ahmed, 31, who started focusing on the health of the planet a few years ago when he pursued healthier, more sustainable foods. . “And then just ask the guys to recycle and think about it. Nobody responds well to being hit on the head and being told to do something.”

Sutter said players are becoming more open to discussing the planet. Back in 2016, his teammates were teasing him for bringing food to the club in reusable containers and talking about the environment.

During his 15 years in professional baseball, including parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, Dickerson said he felt there was a group of “older boys” in the role of clubs who believed climate change was a “Democrats-made myth.” or “some hippie shit”.

But now, he said, because it affects your off-season fishing, and you see how it changes, you see the fires that affect the wildlife, and the deer you catch, and the fish that you catch. Then it’s a problem, and then you’ll say, ‘Oh, man, it might be There is something to this.”

Norris, in particular, has seen firsthand how the planet has changed. He said that while pursuing his passions in surfing and nature photography, he learned more about ocean health and saw more plastic in the water, which he described as “disgusting.” He said he has seen surf breaks around the world destroyed by changing sandbars or damaged coral reefs.

“I’m out of most of my life,” he said. “I don’t really hang out or watch Netflix. Surfing, hiking – all of those things are a huge part of my life. I appreciate it, and want to take care of it for as long as possible. Generations that have passed us want to enjoy that too. But if it’s changing fast, They wouldn’t have that passion.”

While surfing in Nicaragua, Norris said he saw a valuable lesson: People used the material for as long as possible — unlike the culture of exclusion in other countries. He said it can be hard to be green in the big leagues, where the average salary is More than 4 million dollars a year, some players display their many flashy outfits and gas consumption Cars and clothing companies are constantly sending players equipment.

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(Many players said they donated their old or unused equipment to minor league players, who are paid a pittance of major league salaries. Cruz said he also donated his spare equipment in his home country.)

Norris, who does not own a home and spends his seasons outdoors truck With solar panels, if he buys clothes, it’s from companies that use recycled materials, like panel shorts made from old fishing nets. The shoes he wears off the court are designed so he can use them for 10 to 15 years. He still uses the two suits that his former Tigers teammate Justin Verlander bought when he was a rookie to wear on team trips.

“The only other suit I bought was from a second-hand store,” he said.

To cut his carbon footprint, Sutter drives an electric car. He said his home in Cincinnati has solar panels, and he helped start an initiative called Carbon deflection, which raises money to buy carbon credits to offset professional sports travel.

Regarding the future, Sutter and Dickerson said, they are concerned about how climate change will encroach upon their planet and their sport, with hot days making it difficult for players to train and watch spectators.

But during the season that was cut short last year by the pandemic, Sutter said he saw what could be a glimpse into the future. Teams only traveled regionally during the regular season, regardless of traditional divisions, and postseason was held at neutral locations in Southern California and Texas, reducing emissions. Bonus: Shorter travel means players have more time to recover.

“There will be growing pains,” Sutter said. “It’s just a matter of how badly we want it to be, because if we waited and waited, it would just be the end of the world.”

“I would only appreciate it from the perspective of travel, and our planet as well,” Ahmed said about the limitation of travel. “So this is a good idea. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all or one-step solution to fixing things. But little things like that, that can be changed along the way, hopefully add up to big cumulative change.”