MLB Writer: "The Players, To This Point, Have Looked Worse"

Players and owners need to work together to "bring America’s game back to America at a time when America needs it"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 01, 2020 - 12:33 pm
Blake Snell 2019

USA Today Images


As Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association continue to negotiate return-to-play proposals, it remains to be seen when – or if – baseball will happen in 2020.

“You have two sides that seem pretty entrenched in their positions. They both obviously believe they are right,” Tampa Bay Times Rays reporter Marc Topkin said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But this is a time when I think there’s a greater good at stake here. It’s easy to say that when it’s other people’s millions of dollars, but this isn’t a typical labor negotiation – yet it seems like it is a typical labor negotiation where there’s a lot of mistrust, there’s a lot of leaks going on, there’s a lot of positioning and trying to make the other side look like the quote-unquote bad guys.”

Meanwhile, MLB fans – and sports fans in general – are just growing more frustrated by the day.

“Maybe this is a naive and idealistic view here,” Topkin said, “but I think the perception many of us had was they were going to put all of that aside, figure out the health and safety aspects, and if they could, then just make a deal and get back to work here and bring America’s game back to America at a time when America needs it.”

That, however, hasn’t been the No. 1 priority for either side. Who looks worse right now: the players or the owners?

“I do think that the owners are going to lose money or not make as much money as they were going to make having no fans at the stadium,” Topkin said. “I think that is a fairly solid truth to go on. The players, while they agreed to the deal with the pro-rated salaries, there’s some contention here as to whether that was understood if that would be part of it. It seems like the owners were pretty confident that they said that was not banking on no fans in the stands. 

“The players,” Topkin continued, “have to realize . . . while they don’t want to see a further reduction in salary, which is understandable – nobody likes to have their pay cut – yet I know I did. Most people you know in any industry have had their pay cut. Those are the lucky ones: the people that didn’t lose their jobs were happy to still have their jobs and have their pay cut. I think the players have to look around and realize first of all that it’s happening in the rest of the world – granted, not at the level that they’re being asked to, but they also make a lot more than everyone else. The other option is if there’s no season, they get no pay. There’s no money.”

Thus, while some players might not make all of their millions, they could still make some of their millions.

“Does that stink? Absolutely. But is making zero any better? I don’t think so,” Topkin said. “Maybe that’s the trade-off for not taking the health risks, but I think there’s a case to be made that the players, to this point, have looked worst.”