Another week begins without Major League Baseball.
The 2020 season should have been about 6-weeks-old at this point. We’ll never know what might have taken place over those roughly 40 days. A no-hitter or two? A 4 home run game? An incredible late-inning rally that turned a guaranteed loss into an incredible win?
Instead, we continue to wait and wonder if there’ll be a 2020 season at all. Thanks, coronavirus.
As the league’s owners and players hash out a plan that might lead to a truncated and atypical 2020 season, I admit I’m not listening to the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from both sides.
The owners’ latest attempt to influence public opinion about the supposed frightening economic picture the sport faces this year is this: they’re telling us they might lose $640,000 every time a home game is played without fans in the stadium.
Okay, let’s do a little math. Let’s say a deal is hatched between the owners and the players that includes an 80-game regular season. That means every team will play 40 home games (if health conditions allow for playing in the home ballpark). Punching a few buttons on my calculator, I determine the owners would lose $25,600,000 over those 40 games. Recognizing owners are billionaires, that $25.6-million isn’t all that much: 2.56% of his or her net worth if that net worth is ONLY $1-billion.
Let’s put 2.56% into layman’s terms. If you make $50,000, then 2.56% of that equals $1,250. Of course, your bank account is a lot smaller than the billionaire’s, so that $1,250 matters more to you.
The owners are conveniently omitting from their argument that television-rights deals will more than make up for that measly $25.6-million. Consider this: the lowest-revenue Major League Baseball team in 2019 was the Miami Marlins, who generated $222-million. Want to guess what their largest revenue stream was?
So, no, the owners aren’t scoring any sympathy points with me.
On the other hand, the players are doing themselves no favors by moaning about whether they ought to receive anything less than the full amount of their contracts minus the percentage they already surrendered because the first 2 months of the season have been wiped out. One newspaper columnist crunched some numbers and determined if a $7-million per year player earns only $3.5-million in 2020 that he’d pocket $1.6-million after taxes.
Keep in mind, that’s $1.6-million for at most 5 months of work. (Fine, throw in the spring training that might last about 3 weeks and let’s say he works for 6 months.)
How many people do you know who make $1.6-million for 6 months of work? Come to think of it, how many people do you know who make $1.6-million for 12 months of work?
In case you’re wondering, the MLB minimum salary this year is $563,000. Cut that in half and you’re at $281,500. Let’s surrender about 40% of that to taxes, and that player brings home about $170,000.
How many of you make at least $170,000?
Now let’s consider the stadium workers. Crunching a few numbers on my trusty calculator and…they make NOTHING this year even if there’s a season. No fans in the stands means no need for ticket takers, popcorn sellers and the ever-present hot dog guy.
Remind me again who will suffer when games are played in empty stadiums?
If the billionaire owners and the millionaire players want to cry about the right economic plan necessary for baseball to be played this season, then I’d recommend they spend considerable amounts of time at the hospitals in their respective cities.
They ought to ask the doctors and nurses how much money they’ll make this year. They also ought to ask them about the daily pressures they face as they fight to keep people alive, all the while knowing a malpractice lawsuit awaits for even the most minor of mistakes. Then they ought to chat with that in-game stadium worker who really needs the $100 or so they get each time a home game takes place.
Coronavirus is not yet done unleashing its economic hell on the United States and Canada (go Blue Jays!). The men and women who are losing their jobs with no guarantee when they’ll get a new one are the people we need to be worrying about right now. Not the billionaires in the owners’ suites and not the millionaires in the dugout.
If the two sides make “play ball” a “play (hard) ball (over money),” then I’ll wait until 2021 to celebrate the return of the game.