MLB players should have the opportunity for an up or down full membership secret ballot vote on the Health & Safety Protocols before giving the OK to play ball.
The MLB players union is currently considering the immensity of the 67-page 2020 Health and Safety proposal submitted by Major League Ball.
The union’s Executive Board is fielding reaction calls from team player reps and occasionally from individual members.
Typically, the MLBPA Executive Board will engage in negotiations with MLB adopting changes agreed to by both sides, and ultimately voted on by the Exec Board – and that would be that.
But in instances of significant import like this one is, the Exec Board, though not required to do so, can submit a proposal to the general membership for ratification.
A precedent for a full MLB player vote was established in 2009 when the Association’s next Executive Director was named, replacing Donald Fehr, who had resigned.
Division Among MLB Players Warrants A Full Vote
MLB players, if they agree to play this year, are squarely in the bullseye of the coronavirus. This is why MLB has gone to extraordinary measures to “protect” them with all the do’s and don’ts covered in the safety manifesto.
The document, best outlined by Jeff Passan for ESPN, reads in many parts like it is written by a team of MLB lawyers as though it is designed as a “We told you so” argument for the defense when the first suits filed by players hit MLB offices.
But given the support from respected MLB players like Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado for the dissension registered by Blake Snell, that discontent should not resolve until the full 1,200 MLBPA membership has been heard in a secret ballot vote.
As with any demonstration of unrest in a free society like ours, not everyone is willing and able to put themselves on the front lines of protest.
Those voices deserve and need to be heard, but for that to happen, the MLBPA’s Exec Board must give the authority to exercise a membership vote.
Democracy Be Damned – We’re In A Hurry Here
The trouble with democracy is that it takes time to implement. And from where MLB, team owners, TV Networks, and a portion of players sit, there is no time to play around with incidentals, like giving a player a voice in deciding his destiny.
Follow the rules and guidelines they say, and you’ll have no problem. This is probably true if there is a player, coach, clubhouse attendant, umpire, and countless others who can live their lives under the required constraints from June through October, at least.
At what point does an MLB player reading through the Safety And Health proposal say to himself – this is way overboard and hell no – I won’t go.
And if I do decide to “go”, I expect, because I deserve as “hazardous pay” my full salary for this year.
MLB Players And The Money Issues
The average one-year salary for a major league ballplayer is around $5 million, a figure that evokes little if any empathy when 37 million Americans have lost their job since
But perspective is the sole fairness key when making judgments regarding an entertainment industry that includes pro athletes.
It’s an industry in which actors like Dwayne Johnson $89.4m, Chris Hemsworth $76.4m, and Robert Downey Jr.$66m earned that much in 2019.
Meanwhile, the best MLB player on the planet, Mike Trout, earned $33.5 million last year. Context is important.
Blake Snell’s Real Audience
Ironically, Blake Snell’s self-centered rant while justified in and of itself, speaks volumes about the plight of his teammates who play for one of the most fiscally conservative franchises in major league baseball.
The Tampa Bay Rays, support a team payroll of $65 million, for 2020. Only five players, including Snell, transcend the $4 million MLB player average.
More significantly though, fourteen of Snell’s teammates make the major league minimum, or slightly above. These players have already endured a 50 percent pay cut per a previously agreed to slash by the MLBPA, reducing pay to about $300,000.
MLB Players: The Only “Safe” Strategy…
It’s up to the players, collectively and individually, to decide if risks outweigh the benefits of stepping onto a field to play a diluted 2020 season.
Major League Baseball is and has been stepping up efforts to make players look bad if they don’t give it up as their civic and patriotic duty to play ball this year – before it’s too late.
This is why the best strategy for MLB players at the moment is to delay, delay, delay.
Given the risks and inconveniences associated with the continuance of the 2020 season, why bother at this point?
A few stand to in possible harm’s way as free agents next year – with no “walk-year” stats to back them up.
But as you peruse the Class of 2021, each has an already established pedigree as a player who will be pursued based on an established career to date.
MLB Players: Confused, Conflicted, And Disingenuously Courted
MLB players have some necessary life decisions to make in the next few days or weeks. Inevitably, as they must, they trust their union reps to look out for their best interests.
But this is different as a deadly virus remains in our midst, as evidenced by the tedious and comprehensive proposal submitted by MLB to make the 2020 season “safe”, if and when it is resumed.
The list of MLBPA team representatives (Michael Conforto – Mets, Justin Turner – Dodgers, Kris Bryant – Cubs, et al. is impressive – but they can never be represented as the entire 1,200 members of the MLBPA.
One thousand two hundred members with divergent or similar views as their Reps? Let’s find out.
Because finding out via a secret ballot vote designed to gauge the level of commitment by MLB players to fulfilling a 2020 baseball season is the only way to legitimize the effort.
The next move rests with the MLB player union’s Executive Board to pass the torch to its full membership, albeit with a recommendation saying yea or nay…