The MLB player’s union is reportedly gearing up to fight a war if owners insist on additional pay cuts. That’s a big mistake if they follow through.
For the most part, MLB players have enjoyed the support of baseball fans whenever they become entangled in a dispute with ownership.
But there is a battle brewing between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) that has all the makings of a vast dent being placed in the players claim that “we play for the fans”.
MLB, according to several reports, will announce a plan this Tuesday calling for an 80 game regular season with an expanded postseason.
Details are sketchy, and the plan will require the approval of MLB players.
The MLBPA has a meeting scheduled with MLB tomorrow to work out the details, but for our purposes here, the lone hurdle will be whether or not MLB players agree to absorb a pay cut.
The math is simple. Eighty games are half a season. Now, if you or I work a half-day, that’s what we get paid for unless we are fortunate enough to attribute the second half of the day to sick or personal time.
MLB Players And The Real World
Now, consider that, according to Statista, the average salary for MLB players stood at 4.36 million U.S. dollars in 2019.
Meanwhile, the median income for a full-time American wage or salary worker yearly was $48,672 in 2019 – or one one-hundredth of one percent of an MLB player’s income.
Stop. This is not about whether or not MLB players are entitled to make high dollar salaries. That’s an old debate, and it is not it’s not what this is about.
What this is about is the 14.7 percent rate of unemployment in the U.S. today, which translates to 26 million Americans with no job.
Moreover, there are 11 million additional Americans who are not counted in the Bureau of Labor statistics. These are ordinary workers who have given up looking for work – thus aptly grouped as “Discouraged Workers”.
MLB Players Against The Tide
Now, step back a moment to juxtapose these conditions facing our nation against this: According to Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports, “there is going to be a war” if owners seek to reduce salaries further, and the players are “hopping mad” — with good reason.
Good reason? Seriously?
Thus the pill we are asked to swallow, then, is that MLB players (on the average) will not be able to live on half of $4.36 million – or $2.18 million between now and when the next bump is sure to come in 2021.
MLB Players: There Is A Way To Redemption
There is, however, a compromise position that Tony Clark, President of the MLBPA, can take – of course with the approval of his membership.
The proposal is based on the historical reasons why unions developed in the first place in America. Initially, the mission statement of all unions was predicated on the strength of an “all for one, one for all” strategy to improve the livelihood of workers.
MLB players still believe or at least give lip service to this guiding principle.
So, why not test it by saying all MLB players at the bottom of the scale (MLB minimum $563,000) up to (pick a fair number – say a cool million dollars) will receive full pay for 2020.
Now, here comes the kicker though with a question. Will the 250 MLB players making more than the average of $4+ million this year agree to take a pay cut in support of their fellow members, and in many cases, their teammates who are below the average?
Now, we are talking about a real war. Except for this time, it becomes a full-fledged Civil War between the haves – Mike Trout $37.7 million, Gerrit Cole $36 million, Max Scherzer $35.9 million, and Nolan Arenado $35 million at the top of the scale – versus the have-nots at the bottom.
MLB Players – Putting Your Wallet Where Your Mouth Is
The list is long of MLB players who have stepped it up in the wake of the coronavirus, taking time to organize food drives in the local communities – and in some cases even writing checks from their accounts to buy PPE for front-line workers.
But the results stemming from the meeting tomorrow between MLB and the MLBPA will reflect on all MLB players and not just those individuals who have risen to fight the invisible enemy.
This “war”, if it is to be one, is not Curt Flood fighting against what amounted to indentured servitude (slavery) and the reserve clause for himself and his peers.
Or the battle waged by Andy Messersmith and Catfish Hunter, and others in the fight for free agency.
MLBPA Then And Now…
In this dispute over pay cuts, winners and losers will emerge from the likes of Tony Clark or super-agent Scott Boras.
Neither of whom is likely to ever find a place in the Baseball Hall Of Fame when measured against the service of Marvin Miller, who is included in the 2020 HOF Class of inductees.
He served as the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1966 to 1982.
Miller represented the fundamental rights of MLB players during a time when players received the support of the average baseball fan, and later, even Congress.
Greed does not calculate into today’s equation, though, and if Clark leads his membership down that path, the MLBPA and its members should be ashamed of itself.
The true grit of MLB players is on the dotted line. Owners are greedy too but in this instance, the facts do not support the MLBPA.
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for this one to be put to a vote by the membership of the MLBPA if it gets that far. One for all, all for one – we’ll see.