Baseball Could Lose Place In American Sports

‘A big money fight in a pandemic is suicidal’

Jeff Hathhorn
May 19, 2020 - 4:09 pm
Pablo Reyes rounding the bases

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – “To have a big money fight in the middle of a pandemic with 36 million people unemployed is about as suicidal an outcome as any sport could ever reach.”

Veteran writer Jayson Stark of The Athletic told Cook and Joe on 93.7 the Fan Tuesday afternoon about the potential of playing baseball this year.

“If this falls apart because of money, this would be worse than cancelling the World Series in 1994,” Stark added.

“After that strike, baseball never held the same place in the American soul again.  If this falls apart in the same way, it never will be.”

That all being said, Stark said he is more confident that not, that the sides are motivated enough to find a way to play this season.

“The economics should be the easy part,” Stark told 93.7 the Fan.  “That is the part they can control.  They can get a deal done on the economics and figure it out themselves.”

“The other stuff, health and safety, that is the part that is not in their control.  They can’t control what happens with the spread of the virus.  They can’t control whether governors and mayors allow them to play in their home parts.  They can’t control the travel and logistical issues.  That stuff is really challenging.”

Stark, also a contributor to the MLB Network, says players want more information than was on the 67 page safety report leaked by the owners.  Saying there are a number of scenarios that aren’t covered.

Then there is the part of athletes not spitting, chewing, high-fiving, hugging, sitting by each other during games.

“For this to work, they are depending on fifteen hundred players who have done things a certain way, with a certain routine for their whole lives to abandon stuff that they do without even thinking,” Stark said.  “And not just to do it one day, but to do it every day.”

“You can legislate all kinds of stuff.  You can tell players don’t wipe the sweat off your face with your hand when it’s 100 degrees.  You can tell them that and have a rule about that.  But in the heat of the moment, when the sweat is in their eyes, how do you enforce that?”

There is another issue with at-risk players, Stark saying it would be a bad look by MLB to force them to play.  The fight comes when healthy players say they don’t want to participate because of perceived risks.

“You think that Mookie Betts decides he’s not comfortable playing, he’s just going to sit the year out and become a free agent,” Stark said.  “I don’t think the Dodgers would be in favor of that, do you?”

The clock is ticking as there are multiple experts who believe COVID-19 will be a much tougher foe when the weather gets colder.  If you could just imagine baseball having to cancel the post-season because they waited too long to get back because they couldn’t agree about money.

“There is no uglier look in the middle of a pandemic than deciding you are not playing baseball because you can’t agree how much money millionaires and billionaires are going to make,” Stark added.

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