Reader Dissent: “Craig, you are such a pinko communist tool”

72 Comments

This is in response to the Luke Scott stuff, obviously. And I disagree with it even if the reader is 66% correct in his first sentence:

Craig, you are such a pinko communist tool.  You certainly are not qualified to comment on anyone’s beliefs, even those that aren’t part of the orchestrated drivel the “news” feeds us.  You are part of the mind feck that MSNBC and all those sites engage in.  The only sheep are those that don’t question the shite that is force-fed down Americans’ throats.  The fact that you use your sports blog on a major website to forward your political beliefs shows what a complete tool you are.  I would love for you to see Scott again and he kick the libel b.s. out of your arse to teach you some manners.

And no, I didn’t change his spelling. He used the cleaned-up version of the curse words on his own.  I appreciate that kind of courtesy.

As for the substance: sorry, but you don’t get to place “100% counter-factual assertions” into the category of “beliefs.”  A difference in beliefs would exist if Luke Scott was a passionate supporter of the Taft-Hartley Act and I, in contrast, believed that it was in conflict with important principles of our democratic society.  In that case, to each his own, and I don’t think anyone would be objecting to Scott’s statement today. But the assertion of something that is 100% factually incorrect gets no protection as the product of one’s belief system. Unless one’s belief system is premised on stupidity.

One other thing: someone asked me today why I think this is even blog-worthy.  The easy answer is that, well, it’s interesting, as the  response to it makes clear.  But I’ll give you an even deeper answer, and it has to do with athletes and how we view them as a society.

There are no public figures in life who are more lionized than professional athletes. They are presumed — without any reason other than their athletic exploits — to be role models before we know anything about them. Unlike other people, they are lauded as heroes for simply doing their job. The only people who deserve that kind of treatment are fireman, policemen, soldiers and the people in the business of saving lives, in my opinion.  While many athletes are admirable and wonderful people — and it always makes me happy when we learn that they are — many are given a status in our society that far outstrips their actual accomplishments simply by virtue of their ability to hit or throw or tackle or dunk.

As such, when one reveals himself to be aggressively and proudly ignorant regarding the issues of the day, yes, I do believe that is worth discussing in this forum, if for no other reason than to make the case that athletes are of little value to the public at large beyond the entertainment value they provide.  And they do provide a ton of entertainment. But let us not forget that we are their fans because of what they do on the field. Not because they’re smarter or better or more respectable than any of us are.

Not even Luke Scott, believe it or not.

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
5 Comments

Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.