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Manning Up

Major League Baseball rejected the Player’s Association’s 114-game season proposal yesterday, and stated they would not send a counter offer. The two sides have been going back and forth for the last few weeks about the length of the season, and the pro-rated compensation. The owners have suggested as low as a 50-game season. Let’s be realistic, a 114-game season is an unworkable number. They would be playing post-season baseball late in November, maybe into December. A 50-game season doesn’t make much more sense either, considering there are enough days left to get 30-40 more games than the proposed 50, and finish the season in a timely manner.

Everyone involved is only concerned with what’s best for them, without regard for what’s best for the fans, baseball, each other, the country. No one is willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good. The players do not want 114-game regular season for the love of the game or the fans, they want that number because it would maximize the amount of money they will get for the pro-rated season. The owners do not want a 50-game regular season, because they are concerned for the health of the players and the fans, they want that low of a number because it will minimize their loses in games played with no fans, and allow them to get to the post-season where they make their money.

2018 AL Cy Young Winner, Blake Snell said, “I'm not splitting no revenue, I want all mine. Bro, you all got to understand, too, you're all like, 'Play for the love of the game, man, what's wrong with you?' I'm risking my life… If I'm playing, I should be getting paid what I signed to play (for). I should not be getting half of what I'm getting paid because the season's cut in half.”

Bryce Harper believes Snell’s stance was brave. He said Snell “manned up.” You know what manning up is? Jackie Robinson stepping onto Ebbets field on April 15, 1947, risking his life to take a stand against real life institutional racism to break the color barrier. There is a reason why his jersey number is universally retired in MLB. Not because of his batting average, fielding percentage or how much money he made.

You know what manning up is? Ted Williams giving up three years of the prime of his career to serve in World War 2 and Korea, risking his life by flying 39 combat missions. That’s manning up.


You know what manning up is? While many owners have been firing minor leaguers to save money, Shin-Soo Choo and David Price pledged to pay the minor leaguers in their organization $1,000 apiece. That’s manning up Bryce. How about you?


You know what manning up is, a 60 year old doctor or nurse working on the frontline of this crisis, risking their lives treating Covid-19 patients 12 hours a day for three straight months, not a 27 year old professional athlete in prime physical condition playing baseball in the sun in an open park.

I get it, I’m not dumb. There is the business side to sports. But can’t we, at least this year, put our country, our fellow citizens ahead of our bottom line? Owners have taken in record profits the last five years, take a loss this year so the game can go on. Baseball and the record profits will be back in 2021, and the loses this year will be erased. And players like Bryce Harper, whether he makes one cent this season or not, will still walk away from baseball with over $200 million in the bank. So, if you get short changed this year, your lifestyle will not diminish one bit.

But, if these ball players truly believe they would be putting their health at risk, they should sit it out. But they need to remember, there are people across the country going into plants and factories every day, risking their lives, working for $15 an hour to put food on our tables and provide our healthcare workers on the frontline the PPEs they need. So, sitting out will not win over many fans, probably cause these players to lose millions of fans, and elicit boos across every stadium for years. There is a risk and a cost for every decision we make.

You would think that during a crisis where so many regular citizens have been sacrificing so much, and even risking their lives for the greater good, billionaires and millionaires would know how to come together to divide up billions of dollars so the game could go on.

The answer is so obvious. If the season starts July 1, there are 3 months until October. Play 27 games per month, for a total of 81 games, exactly half an MLB season. Every player should receive half their contracts, and whatever loses there are from playing in empty stadiums, the owners should just take it for the team, for the fans, for the country.

In the end, an agreement will be struck to play baseball. The regular season will be 80-90 games. There will be playoffs and the World Series. But through it all, the posturing and rhetoric of both MLB and MLBPA have really been a bad look for both of them. Neither of you are victims, and you are not in the frontline of this crisis, so stop acting like you are.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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