Opinion: MLB Players Need to Suck it up and Deal with Salary Later
Written by Sean Fitzgerald on July 17, 2020
Photo Credit: forbes.com
*Note: This article was originally published June 4. This is a republishing of the original*
I love baseball. It’s my favorite sport. After attending Game 3 of the 2007 American League Championship Series between Boston and Cleveland, I was hooked. My love for sports blossomed and never faded, with baseball being the core of my being.
But this childish resistance by baseball players, refusing a further pay cut for a single season, in a pandemic no less, is ridiculous. The owners are going to lose money by not hosting fans at their ballparks and driving up the cost of staging the games.
I have criticized both the owners and the players in the past, and normally I have sided with the players. I understand part of what Blake Snell is trying to get at in maintaining his well being.
The fans typically side with the owners, who are just as greedy as the players. But, said owners have the added cost of running the whole operation. The lack of a salary cap and revenue sharing in MLB is what puts teams like Tampa Bay, Oakland, Cleveland and other small markets in unfortunate positions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I understand the players want to see the owners’ books to see if the financial burden is really as bad as they’re being told. The Major League Baseball Player’s Association has a right to be skeptical and should be to a lesser degree.
Back in 1985, owners conspired to thwart the free agency rights won by the players a few years prior, when players like Kirk Gibson and Phil Neikro were not offered a contract. In future offseasons, Bob Boone and Hall of Famers Jack Morris and Tim Raines had their markets restrained with a lack of suitors due to the owners suppressing salaries.
That kind of history, albeit distant, gives the players enough to think, “If that was happening during a time of growth, why wouldn’t they pull something like that to save money now?”
I know that each event doesn’t directly parallel with its counterpart, but the point is the owners have had moments that eroded the trust between them and the players. Look no further than the lack of spending in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 free agent classes.
But, the players, despite these flaws, have come across to the public as spoiled brats while the owners use the public relations playbook against them to perfection. The owners always tell the fans, “Don’t blame us! Blame the greedy baseball players!”
Remember when I said I usually support the players? This time I don’t. Nurses, doctors, teachers, faculty and so many more who don’t earn even a fraction of the dollars most average salary big leaguers make (which is just north of $4 million) in their lifetimes! Many of these ordinary men and women work harder and longer hours, especially the teachers like my mom, who works even in the summer to come up with next year’s lesson plans.
The players have grown up in similar or different circumstances than the common fan, but their tone doesn’t help. Why not sacrifice some salary now knowing you won’t get it back and in turn, create an agreement where the owners cave on other issues, or the promise that significant changes will happen for the players agreeing to be more empathetic and understanding right now?
I want to see baseball this summer. Though like many others, I am pessimistic in that happening.
Quite frankly, if the players don’t take the pain now, they will later when they lose their jobs and MLB loses their fan base.
A brief aside here, I don’t see any point in writing the Where Things Stand: MLB Offseason Edition until I know if a season occurs. If we get a restart announcement, I will finish it. Regular season editions TBD.
Sean Fitzgerald is a member of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department and the Sports Director. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr