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Pedro Martínez: Phillies dealt with swine flu during 2009 World Series

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Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martínez is best-known for helping the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series, ending “The Curse of the Bambino” — the 86-year-long period dating back to 1918 in which the Red Sox failed to win a championship. Martínez, however, also ended his career in 2009 with the Phillies, pitching in Game 2 and Game 6 of the World Series against the Yankees. The defending champion Phillies lost the World Series in six games and Martínez couldn’t find another contract. He officially retired on December 4, 2011.

Martínez returned to Philadelphia on Sunday as part of the Phillies’ alumni weekend. Long-time outfielder Bobby Abreu was inducted into the Wall of Fame and the organization celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2009 National League champion team. Martínez, along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raúl Ibañez and others were invited back. Martínez threw out the first pitch before Sunday’s game against the White Sox. Good times were had by all.

Martínez, however, let loose an interesting and unknown detail about the 2009 team: many members of the team were sick, suffering from swine flu during the 2009 World Series. Per Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Martínez said, “It wasn’t told, but most of us were sick. Some of the guys had swine flu and had to be kept away. I caught some of the virus. We would just never say it. When I got home, I realized that I was really sick.”

Continuing, Martínez said, “I had a little bit of an asthma attack in the middle of the game and I was having a hard time breathing. I was really sick. In any other situation, I wouldn’t be out there. But the team needed me. I held on as long as I could and I did that. I was really proud to have my last game with the Phillies at Yankee Stadium.”

Martínez has never been one to make excuses, so it would be surprising if he were trying to make excuses for the Phillies’ loss or if he were trying to detract from the Yankees’ championship a whole decade later. But it is interesting nevertheless. The swine flu clearly didn’t affect everyone because Utley, Ibañez, Werth, Carlos Ruiz, and Cliff Lee performed quite well in the ’09 World Series. The Yankees, who won 10 more games than the Phillies during the regular season that year, were just better.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: