When Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi saw the viral video of a Scottsdale, Ariz., city councilman speaking at an anti-mask rally, it revolted him.
Guy Phillips, at the gathering not far from Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants’ spring training facility, was wearing a black mask and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” before pulling it off and rolling his eyes.
Those were the final words expressed by George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police last month. “Insanity. Insanity,” said Phillips, who received loud cheers from Arizonans when he tossed down his mask.
“I mean, f— that guy,” Zaidi told the Athletic. “You can quote me on that. F— that guy.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey criticized Phillips for his comments, and Phillips apologized — “It was a stupid and insensitive comment that I shouldn’t have made, and I had no intention of disrespecting anybody while making that comment” — but Zaidi remained steamed.
Coronavirus cases have soared to record levels in Arizona, and many Giants players and staff live in the Scottsdale area.
“I think anyone would have difficulty getting beyond the abhorrent insensitivity of his statement,” Zaidi said in the Athletic interview. “But even if you can get beyond that — the fact that this guy is condoning behavior that put our staff and players at risk? Like, seriously. F— that guy. I can’t believe that that guy is a public official in this country. It’s unbelievable.”
The Giants’ relationship with Scottsdale is vital to the community. Their presence every February and March pumps millions of dollars into the local economy, and they’re moving their minor-league facility from Indian School Park to a complex at Papago Park costing more than $50 million.
“I know we’ll have some internal conversations about that,” Zaidi said of the Phillips episode. “I don’t know how you could watch that and not be angry about it. And angry may be too simple a term. As for what recourse we have, I wouldn’t want to speak to that. But I’m f—ing pissed about it. And I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that.”