I remember the editorial cartoon published in my hometown paper back in the 1990s when Major League Baseball players went on strike and canceled that year’s World Series.
Basically, it was all about the money.
The cartoon, then, pictured Bart Simpson as the greedy baseball player, with a couple of hookers on his arms and making absurd demands for more money. Homer represented the disgruntled fan who no longer wanted anything to do with America’s pastime.
Fast forward to 2020, and the recent revenue splitting plan being proposed between players and the MLB.
Some players, including Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, have spoken out about the proposal, calling it such things as “laughable.” I’m sure other players have called it much less family-friendly names.
I get that, in this pandemic age and a virus that spreads very easily and can kill, the players are concerned. Rightfully so.
But what really gets me boiling angry is ... a demand by a spoiled player – Snell in particular – for what essentially amounts to hazard pay.
“I’m not splitting no revenue. I want all mine,’’ Snell, the 2018 Cy Young winner, said on his Twitter account. “Bro, y’all got to understand, too, because y’all going to be like: ‘Bro, play for the love of the game. Man, what’s wrong with you, bro? Money should not be a thing.’ Bro, I’m risking my life. What do you mean, ‘It should not be a thing?’ It 100-percent should be a thing.”
I mean that wholeheartedly ... say what?
Major League Baseball players are already making millions of dollars a year, and some players (at least) are worried about keeping up their bank accounts – all to fund their lavish lifestyles, natch – in what is basically half a season? All in this time thousands of people have died and loved ones are unable to mourn properly, and more than a million more have suffered some form of this illness?
I think some of these guys demanding this “hazard pay” or whatever it is need a harsh reality check, if you ask me.
What about the doctors, nurses, public safety officers, front-line workers, paramedics, staff at our long-term care facilities, scientists working around the clock to develop a vaccine ... so many others that have stood on our front lines to fight this dread disease?
What about them? And the food processing facilities and supermarket workers who are trying to kept us fed?
And the millions of people – including, I’d bet, the fans who support these players – who are sitting on the job sidelines, their jobs and futures in doubt, as they struggle to pay for food and their mortgage? All while these players are likely never in want or need.
So many of those professions I’ve mentioned make far less than Major League Baseball players. Yet, they choose to put themselves in potential harm’s way to help treat those who have fallen seriously ill, put food on America’s tables and so forth. Many of them have fallen ill themselves, and will never see in their lifetimes much less ask for an obscene salary that some baseball players are literally demanding as a condition to play or some penance by Major League Baseball to play.
Yes, I get that they have a right to their safety and to feel safe playing the game or doing anything and everything we once all took for granted. And yes, I get that baseball players will likely be quarantined and unable to physically be with their families.
What about the doctors and nurses and all those others I’ve mentioned who aren’t getting to hug their spouses/significant others, children and grandchildren, much less even be around them while this virus is making its rounds?
Some medical professionals, I’ve heard, have spent literally two, maybe three months physically separated from their families, living in trailers and lonely hotel rooms because their afraid of giving the illness to their families. And you can’t hack three, maybe four months away from your families doing the same.
Take that pay cut ... your bank account can handle it.
Spend time away from family ... others who are working a higher purpose are.
And get the you-know-what over yourselves.
You’ll be able to make your gazillions of dollars again, pay for those platinum-plated Rolls Royces and so forth again.
I’ve been back and forth in my mind about the fate of summer high school baseball and softball in Iowa.
I’m sort of along the lines of what Chris Cuellar, the Iowa High School Athletic Association communications director, has thought: Some days, more optimistic than others.
One positive vibe that sports can happen came last week in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ remarks that things were looking good, thanks to a trend in decreasing new cases, hospitalizations and so forth.
Another positive comes from a guy back in my past neck of the woods – Benton Community softball coach Eric Stenberg.
Sternberg, you see, is an emergency room doctor who has been on the front lines of COVID-19 in Benton County, whose county was covered as part of what once was NEWSpapers of Iowa County. He knows the risks better than most.
And he’s in favor of sports resuming this summer.
“If we don’t try this summer to get back out there, when are we going to try this?” he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette earlier this week.
He sent out a proposal to the IHSAA and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union spelling out precautions, safety measures and other recommendations on what should – and on top of that could – be done to pull off sports in a safe and responsible manner.
The list has included everything from mound visits to practices, concessions to transportation, pre- and post-game protocols to fans. All while maintaining the integrity of the game.
His post made its way to social media, and according to the Gazette, response was positive.
I’ve seen this list ... and by and large, I agree with the points Stenberg makes. In this time, they’re common sense, and in this time are necessary in keeping players, coaches, officials, umpires and fans safe.
The main point, though, is that participation in sports – like anything else during these times – is strictly voluntary. Meaning, if a player (or parent), official or school official doesn’t feel comfortable, they can (and should) opt out.
The rest is all common sense ... most importantly, that point of, “If you are sick, stay home.”
I’m interested in hearing what official reaction will be from the IHSAA and IGHSAU. While I’m sure these are talking points already, I believe that if these points are taken, there’s a great chance fans will get to see baseball and softball this summer.
And it’ll be another step toward normalcy, after what’s seemed like an eternity in the contrary.