by Julian Spivey
You get to work tomorrow and your boss calls you into his/her office and says, “things aren’t going too well right now, we’re going to need you to take as much as a 75 percent pay cut.”
What would you do? Would you take the pay cut and keep your job or would you give them the old Johnny Paycheck “take this job and shove it!”
What about if you had already agreed to as much as a 50 percent pay cut at an earlier date, because, you know, things aren’t going so well, and they come back and said, “we’re going to need to take more.”
Well, that’s what Major League Baseball is trying to do to its players.
The MLB Players Association had already agreed to prorated salaries when the league announced in March it would have to shut down indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the proposed 82-game season the MLB hopes to complete that would’ve been about a 50 percent pay cut, where those making the most within the game would see their salary this season go from around $35 million to just under $18 million and those making the MLB minimum of $563,500 would go down to $285,000.
Believe it or not about 65 percent of major leaguers make less than $1 million a year, according to a recent article on ESPN.com.
I get that many people, even those who consider themselves to be baseball fans, will simply see this as millionaires bickering over money, but try to put yourselves in their shoes. You likely wouldn’t see a pay cut of as much as 75 percent as reasonable … so why should they even if it’s more than you would make at the same cut?
Also, don’t forget the players immediately agreed to the prorated salaries and it’s the owners, the billionaires within the sport, coming in with the greedy ask of more cuts. The millionaire athletes are the little guys being taken advantage of in this situation.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan said on Tuesday, this week would be especially important between the league and the MLBPA and there’s still a long way to go in the week, but baseball’s first proposal to the players was essentially taken by them as being a slap in the face. For baseball to begin it season on July 4, as they hope to, the two sides would have to come to an agreement by the end of the first week of June.
St. Louis Cardinals reliever and union representative Andrew Miller told USA Today: “We want to play. It’s what we love to do. We also have principles and a responsibility to protect the rights of players. If this was truly about getting the game to the fans in 2020, we would have no issues finding that common ground. We will continue to work toward that, but I’m disappointed where they have started the discussion.”
Throughout this entire process the league’s owners have been attempting to make the players look like the villains of the scenario, especially when they first came out with a 50/50 revenue sharing plan a couple of weeks back by going to the media first without even talking to the MLBPA. Based on what I’ve seen on social media, the plan by the owners is working. Fans just see “greedy millionaires” wanting more (when it’s actually what they contractually agreed to and then, again, agreed to take less of), instead of the owners using a pandemic scenario to try to get more from the players.
And, yes, the owners will be losing out too, but as USA Today reported on Tuesday: “The owners would be guaranteed $777 million in postseason TV revenue, which would be inflated to nearly $1 billion with a postseason format expanding to 14 teams from its normal 10.
I know fans want the players on the field, I do too, but I’m never going to fault athletes for standing up for what they believe, especially when all the signs point to the owners trying to stick it to them. Maybe the owners will give the MLBPA a reasonable proposal? Maybe the MLBPA will eventually cave and decide taking as much as 75 percent less than planned is better than receiving nothing at all? But, as of right now, I’m not expecting there to be any Major League Baseball played in 2020 … and with the two sides being where they are at it might not even be played in 2021.
All I know is if my boss came at me with a 75 percent pay cut, they’d be getting: “take this job and shove it, I ain’t workin’ here no more” mighty fast.