As the Atlanta Braves await the start of a season, one highly paid former player says money can't be responsible for baseball shutting down until 2021.
Atlanta Braves former first baseman Mark Teixeira spoke with Mike Golic on his morning radio show and later appeared with Jeff Passan and Mike Greenburg on ESPN's Get Up.
In both interviews, they discussed the possibility of playing baseball in 2020, the current disagreement over-pay, and what it would take to have baseball this year.
The interviews sparked a firestorm of angry, cheap shots on Twitter, and in at least two online written media sites. Listening to and reading the criticisms made me wonder if they were paying attention to what was said.
I know that's rare in today's media frenzy, but some of the things attributed to Teixeira were said or implied, while they accused him of not saying the things they wanted him to say.
Their primary gripe/complaint/whining cry came in the form of a logical fallacy called a false cause. It seems that because Teixeira made money as a baseball player and now an analyst for ESPN, he no longer has the best interests of players at heart.
However, Teixeira was absolutely clear about his position on the radio
. . . from a players standpoint, I want 100 percent of my salary for every game played. However, these are unprecedented times. . unfortunately these are unprecedented times, and the owners 50-50 split is not unreasonable . . .
He went on to make the point that, had the season gone as planned, the player split of revenues projects ,
(This quote is from the interview included in the Tweet that follows.)
“. . . I think players need to understand, just this one time, one time in the history of the union – since Curt Flood – they can bend a little bit, and say, you know what, we’re going to do what’s best for the sport – what’s best for the country. There’s people out there risking their lives in the front lines, they’re people that are losing their jobs, that’s losing their savings, and we know this might not be a great deal for us, but it’s better than sitting home and not playing baseball . . .
The radio interview got the ball rolling, and the TV interview should have clarified his position and ended this ado about nothing. Naturally, it didn't.
Mark Teixeira’s earnings invalidate his position?
The reaction to Teixeira's statements is more surprising than his words. Awful Announcing, and Deadspin in particular, made it sound as if the former first baseman said things he didn't say about two subjects. There's a lot of innuendoes and implied meaning in the way they portrayed Teixeira's words, and while the quotes overlap, it can get confusing, I'll take them one at a time -- starting with money.
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The two responses I'll discuss begin by suggesting Teixeira had made his money and no longer cares about the MLBPA or the players. Neither post explains why that's the case; their logic is simply 'he has money, and he isn't supporting the union's position' (or that of the authors); ergo he doesn't care about the players.
Here's Deadspin's Jesse Spector's first, but not his cheapest, cheap-shot:
Mark Teixeira, who made $213 million in his career as a baseball player, would like to see today’s baseball players take less money to return to the field and endanger people’s lives in the process.
The only fact in that little bit of wordsmithing is the reported amount of his earnings. When it comes to Teixeira liking to see players take less money, his quote in this Tweeted clip, says that's not the case.
. So, if I’m a player, I don’t like it. But I’m going to do whatever I have to do to play. . ..”
The rest is an unsubstantiated opinion, to which he's entitled, but is quite likely incorrect.
Awful Announcing's Andrew Bucholtz included Mike Greenburg in his list of villains who make more money than him.
, , ,Tuesday saw well-compensated ESPN analysts Greenberg and Mark Teixeira using their national platform. . .not for a serious discussion of the players’ concerns, but rather an endorsement of the owners and a minimization of players’ concerns, which feels more than a little ironic given their own pasts.
Bucholtz said, 'these two make a lot of money, and used their job to discuss money instead of player safety.'
He should have listened harder.
Mark Teixeira on player safety and health
Players are people with families and friends, just like us, and I believe all of us want the Atlanta Braves, and the rest of baseball to remain safe and healthy. Spector and Bucholtz see those who support Teixeira's position as not very bright, particularly if they have a lot of money.
Spector implied Teixeira didn't care if people's lives were endangered, and Bucholtz said Greenburg and Teixeira minimized player concerns. Early in his post, Spector specifically says Teixeira ignored safety and health.
Teixeira ignored, as outlined by Jeff Passan . . .that one of the three “necessities to start the 2020 season” is the “determination, after talking with health experts and the union, that playing does not expose players, staff or fans to health risks.”
No, no, and are you deaf?.
Jeff Passan opens the segment by going over Tuesday's discussions, pointing out that MLB presented an outline of proposals to bring the game back this year. (My emphasis added.)
. . . (MLB said) in broad strokes: this is what we’re going to do to keep guys safe. This is what we’re going to do with testing, this what we’re going to do with health, this is what we’re going to do with social distancing . . .
At that point, Greenburg asks what Teixeira was thinking about.
Just what Jeff (Passan) said Greeny. I really need to make sure if I’m a player, that Major League Baseball has contingency plans if something does go wrong, if someone tests positive in your clubhouse. I don’t want to bring that home to my family, I don’t want anyone else to get sick, so that’s first and foremost . . ..
Teixeira says, without repeating everything Passan said, that testing, health, and social distancing are important. He goes on the say he wants to know if there are plans should someone become ill. So, it appears he is concerned with player safety. Either Spector wasn't listening to understand or wasn't listening at all. Here's part of the interview, ESPN cut part of Greenburg's comments out but I added them using Greenburg's Tweet elsewhere in the post.
Bereft of facts, Spector insulted Teixeira's intelligence.
Teixeira, despite his Georgia Tech education, never has been much of a guy to follow the lead of science.
Greenburg's final words indicate he cares as well.
Baseball prides itself on being a piece of Americana, and an intrinsic part of American culture. This seems like the time to standup and be counted in that area. I’m not suggesting anyone should do anything that is dangerous to their own health, but if they can figure out a way to do this and have everyone feel safe doing it, I think everyone needs to bend over a little bit.
Those remarks don't sound like someone minimizing player safety and health.
The Atlanta Braves streak extended by a strike
On August 12, 1994, baseball began it's eight work-stoppage. When the Selig-strike began, the Atlanta Braves were trailing the Expos by six games with 48 games left on the schedule.
The streak could well have ended in 1994, but the strike intervened. Maybe that was luck, or fate or whatever you'd like to call it, the worst thing for the Braves, and baseball as a whole is a repetition of two sides playing 'mine is bigger than yours'.
The idiocy of Bud Selig's attempt to break the union in 1994 ended up in a strike that:
- Stopped the season dead in its tracks,
- Eliminated the World Series for the first time since 1904,
- Led to owners hiring replacement players
- Maryland passing legislation preventing non-union players from playing in their state
- The collapse of the National TV deal, and most importantly,
- Made fans so angry many never returned to the game they loved.
Afterward, the owners, a suitably chastised Selig, and the MLBPA decided that working together was best for both sides. Who Knew? Any repeat of a prolonged absence of the game from ballparks and TVs, no matter if it's labor action or MLB stupidity, will damage the game so badly it would take decades to recover.
In the Twitter clip below, Tex repeats his position on accepting the money. At about 0.55 into the clip, Greenburg makes the point I made in our last podcast: neither MLB nor the MLBPA can afford to come out of this negotiation as the party responsible who made money the reason baseball can't play any sort of season this year.
Choosing the middle of a pandemic to start making these kinds of negotiating tactics strikes me as the opportunity to blow all of the goodwill that you have built up with all of the labor peace that you have had in this sport for a very long time. . . . If this thing blows up over money, they will lose fans that they will never get back; and they will deserve it.
The Atlanta Braves responsibilities to the country
Greenburg's point, that MLB has a duty to America, and essentially that both sides should make every effort should to make a short season happen. Teixeira said much the same thing in a quote I included at the beginning of the post.
. . . (players should decide) to do what’s best for the sport – what’s best for the country. There’s people out there risking their lives in the front lines, they’re people that are losing their jobs, that’s losing their savings, and we know this might not be a great deal for us, but it’s better than sitting home and not playing baseball . . .
Five weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor forced America into the Second World War, commissioner of baseball Kennesaw Mountain Landis wrote president Roosevelt and asked if he should cancel the season.
Roosevelt replied immediately, play ball.
I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.
“And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before . . .
. . . these players are a definite recreational asset (to people longer and harder ) and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”
After 9/11, baseball was the sign that the country was heading back to normal. That must happen again.
The pandemic isn't the same as WWII or 9/11, but it is putting a significant strain on front line responders, the people who grow, process, and supply food to our stores, the power to our homes, and other essential services.
They, and the rest of the population, need relief from the mental strain everyone is feeling now, and family singalongs won't do it, particularly if you sing like me. If it's possible while providing a reasonable level of safety for players, umpires et al., MLB and the MLBPA should make a season happen.
Things we learned today
Today we learned the obvious; a player who chooses not to play, no matter how good the agreed plan may be, will not be forced to play or punished if they don't
We learned that the commissioner believes a season will happen, trusts the testing and isolation for players who test positive will work
Manfred all said that losses for 2020 without a season of some kind would run $4B – as in billion. Jeff Passan said these guys are billionaires. Maybe that's true of rich teams, but I disagree with his view.
Owners take no profit from teams until they sell them, and even a billionaire can't throw millions into the toilet every day, and deferring money puts a long term strain on teams like Tampa, Pittsburgh, and others. Losses from the pandemic will ripple through the sport for years.
That's a Wrap
Jeff Passon thinks the union won't give up a penny.
Mark Teixeira thinks an agreement on money will happen but isn't sure the rest of the ducks will line up to allow a short season to happen.
Greenburg and I agree with Teixeira; neither side can afford to emerge as the bad guy who prevented a season.
I still have hope some sort of baseball will take place, though I'm not sure what form or where; I'd really prefer writing about actual ball games.