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I want to make sure I have this completely straight: Major League Baseball owners, realizing the 2020 season would be shortened, asked players for help. And the players union agreed to pro-rated salaries, i.e., they only get paid the fraction of their salaries that match up to the fraction of the season that is played.
In other words, if a player has a salary of $2 million dollars and teams only play 50 percent of their season this year (81 games), the player is paid $1 million dollars. It is a move that would save owners more than a hundred million dollars and one would have thought it would surely ensure that professional baseball is played this year.
Then the owners apparently decided, "Wow, if these suckers would go for that, surely they'll agree to give us hundreds of millions more with further salary reductions! Heck, they'll probably even play for nothing."
But the players union, led by the previously feckless Tony Clark, decided that maybe just maybe that as a step too far.
Meanwhile, massively rich owners like the Ricketts family (How rich? In 2015 Forbes estimated the total wealth of patriarch Joe Ricketts alone was $4.5 billion. That was a few years after Joe had provided the money that enabled his kids to take over the Cubs and a year before the Cubs won the World Series) had to know they could pay for this entire season and still be multibillionaires.
And yet the plan is now apparently to shut everything down.
Fans could give guys like me a hard time about objectivity here because, yes, I have always supported players in situations like this. I will readily acknowledge that I have always tried to help people understand that if millionaire players weren't getting paid what they get paid, it would just mean that billionaire owners were that much further along on their quest to be trillionaires. But many fans I talk to don't care. They want players to play for peanuts no matter what.
Nevertheless, I'm thinking in this case I am justified in siding with the players again. I will acknowledge that . . . well I won't acknowledge anything. This situation is a thousand percent the owners' fault. Alone. In fact, the players probably made a mistake by extending the "pro-rated salary" olive branch.
Last week, I found myself amazed and at times delirious as the (good) hits kept coming from formerly racist-to-the-core sports entities such as NASCAR. The prominent, southern, stock car racing series made it clear they aren't just making promises this time, they are fundamentally changing their ways. Rather than winking and nodding at racist, hateful Confederate flags flying at their races going forward, the stock car series leaders now say they will forevermore force the flag flyers to stop or be banished.
Over in the NFL, I'm thinking commissioner Roger Goodell might kneel on both knees for every national anthem he hears for the rest of his life. He has been a terrible person/commissioner. For example, during his tenure Goodell decided former Ravens running back Ray Rice would be suspended only two games for hitting his girlfriend so hard she was knocked unconscious. Shortly thereafter he decreed that Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady should be suspended four games after a ball he was playing with was found to be slightly deflated.
Indications are the commissioner might have actually grown a spine in the aftermath of the torture and killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis a few weeks ago and might actually be willing to do something. He might even help Colin Kaepernick get a quarterbacking job.
A miracle I know.
I have an idea, baseball owners! Just give the teams to the players. You'll lose a little equity but no cash this year. And gosh will people think you are charitable.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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