Baseball players and owners are more worried about money than playing right now.
In a year where COVID is followed up by racial tension not seen since the 1960s, the great equal denominator that is missing is sports. No matter if your team is winning or losing, sports seems to be the equalizer across genders, races, and ages.
When your team hits a homerun in the stadium, scores a go-ahead goal in hockey, goes up by two in basketball, or scores a touchdown in football, it is likely that you stand in joy and clap the hands of whoever is standing next to you - regardless of age, gender, or race. Around this time of year, the heart of baseball season can always be a light topic in otherwise dark times.
But now that sports is missing from our lives, it is hard to be distracted from the ongoing racial divide and violence that ensues in our country. It begs the question, "Is this really a great country?"
For those who are baseball fans, talks of a shortened season are now in jeopardy to one that will not be played at all. This isn't due to the pandemic, but because of heated contract talks between the players and the owners. The owners don't want to pay the players their full contracts this year due to the shortened season, and the players aren't standing for it.
In a time when the unemployment rate has skyrocketed, employees everywhere have been asked to accept pay cuts, and many who were living paycheck to paycheck still have not received their stimulus check, players are arguing over taking a few million dollars away from their bloated mult-million dollar a year contracts.
Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Blake Snell said “I'm not playing unless I get mine. I'm not splitting no revenue. I want all mine.” Snell said he would be risking his life by playing, even though the shortened proposal would mean playing to empty stadiums. By contrast, medical staff everywhere comes in contact with COVID patients every day without complaint and grocery staff is asked to work overtime on meager salaries.
MLBPA's contract is up after the 2020 season, which means that if they don't play this year, they could very well strike for next year too. So we could have two straight seasons of no baseball. Even if there is no baseball this year, it could tarnish the fan's relationship with the game for quite some time.
The last time the players went on strike over money was the 1994 season, and it took awhile for fans to come back to the ballpark and respect the players after that. As it is, baseball has been struggling for the last few years in comparison to other sports to keep people in the ballpark. Talks of players and owners squabbling over their already ridiculous paychecks does not look good in times of such an economic crisis for the country.
This only further separates the fanbase with the owners and players. Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the game, signed a 12-year $426,500,000 contract with the Los Angeles Angels that includes a $20 million signing bonus. He stands to make a base salary of $36 million this year. According to an ESPN report, players at the top of the pay scale, like Trout, would have their salaries cut by around 56 percent, while those at the bottom would see it cut by around eight percent.
So Trout's pro-rated salary for half a season would be around 18 million, but under the owner's proposal he would make eight million. Players are pushing back on this proposal, believing it would create a baseball salary cap. Now, they would return to their normal salary next season.
So, you mean to tell me that you can't live on eight million dollars? You're only playing half a season. Maybe you need to sell one of your five mansions this year. If it means playing the game you supposedly love and keeping it all about the fans, then do it.
After all, what we need more than ever in these dark times is sports. Don't take it away from us because of money.