Brandon McCarthy
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Some past and current players chime in on MLB’s upcoming proposal

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As we have been discussing all week, Major League Baseball owners are expected to formally present a proposal to the MLB Players Association this week outlining how the 2020 season will look. Nothing has been presented thus far, but we have heard about many of the issues that will be covered including player pay, a universal designated hitter rule, and health and safety measures.

The issue of player pay as well as the overall health and safety measures that will be taken have been subject to a bit of controversy. The owners reportedly want to go back on the deal they agreed to with the union back in March, which reduced the players’ pay on a prorated basis.

Former MLB player and current ESPN analyst Mark Teixeira went on ESPN’s show Get Up with Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose yesterday, advocating that the players make concessions to allow the season to begin. The response to Teixeira’s comments were mixed. Some players, including former players, chimed in on Twitter yesterday.

1B/3B Kevin Youkilis wrote, “Former @MLB players are entitled to their opinions on what they think the players should or should not agree on but it’s their time to make the right decision with the @MLB_PLAYERS for what they think is the right decision.”

Pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who played with Teixeira on the Yankees in 2014, said, “Tex was quite possibly the most pro-union player I came across in my career. A few years ago this would be recognized as an ‘under duress’ message.”

Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood tweeted, “I refuse to judge someone I don’t really know off of one comment but damn this statement is just so stupid lol”

Outfielder Adam Jones, currently signed with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, said more generally, “It’s time for the BIG GUYS in MLB to speak up. This is your time to speak. Stop holding your tongue. Ppl follow and listen to you. Not gonna name names cause there’s a lot of ppl. Who cares what you make. You earned it. Who cares about backlash!! TIME TO SPEAK THE F UP!”

Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer posted a video on YouTube today in which he speaks with his agent Rachel Luba:

We also heard extensively from Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle on Monday. It’s a smattering of players, but hopefully more players use their platforms to speak their minds on these issues. If there is one difference between the current labor issues and those in the past, it’s that ownership can’t as easily dictate the narratives. Players don’t necessarily need a sympathetic media member to get their side out; they can simply make a post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to speak to their fans directly.

As unrest continues, Major League Baseball and its clubs have been mostly silent

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The police killing of George Floyd on May 25 has sparked outrage against police brutality both across the country and around the world. Protests which began in Minneapolis spread to multiple cities over this past weekend. In the saddest of ironies, these protests against the unlawful and excessive use of force has led to police employing even more unlawful and excessive use of force against protesters, most of whom have engaged in peaceful, constitutionally-protected activities. This has all lead to additional deaths, countless injuries, thousands of arrests, and the targeting of journalists by police and government authorities. As of this very moment, that unrest continues.

As Bill noted yesterday, a great many of ballplayers and managers have spoken out against police brutality and in support of those rallying against it. We have heard almost nothing, however, from Major League Baseball and its clubs.

Major League Baseball has issued no official statement in response to the unrest. Only four teams — the Twins, Athletics, Giants, and Blue Jays — have issued statements of their own. The Miami Marlins released a statement from CEO Derek Jeter, but as you can see below, they make a point to say that it’s Jeter’s sentiment, not that of the club. The Dodgers, well, scroll down and we’ll see what they’ve done. It’s kinda awkward. UPDATE: The Mets have just added a statement of their own.

The Twins’ statement on Friday was in specific reference to George Floyd’s killing:

The Blue Jays’ statement is the most recent:

The Giants released this yesterday:

As we noted yesterday, the Oakland A’s paired their statement with the announcement of a charitable donation:

Here’s Derek Jeter, tweeted out by the Marlins, who have made no statement on behalf of the club:

The Mets:

Finally the Dodgers:

That’s obviously not about Floyd’s killing or any of the unrest, but I take that as a tacit acknowledgment of it all and the judgment that maybe today is not a good day for a Zoom party. Which, hey, is better than the 24 other teams whose Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and websites would have you believe that nothing has happened in the country in the past week.

Contrast that with the NBA which, as of late this morning anyway, has seen 23 of its 30 franchises release a statement on their Twitter feed related to George Floyd’s killing

Not that the five baseball teams who have said something are deserving of full laurels here. Notable in their statements — even in the Twins’ statement which specifically references Floyd — is the complete absence of any reference to law enforcement or police brutality. For that matter, only five of the NBA teams who spoke out specifically mentioned that. One of them is the Washington Wizards. Here’s how easy it is to say such a thing:

 

Given that the very impetus of the events upon which the teams and leagues are attempting to speak out is the behavior of law enforcement and police brutality, its rather amazing that so few mention it. Indeed, it’s impossible to see these statements as anything other than organizations trying extraordinarily hard not to mention that.

Many of you are probably asking right now (a) why it should matter if professional sports teams or leagues speak out; and (b) if they do, why it should matter if they specifically mention police brutality. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

A broad answer to that is that sports teams and leagues are citizens like the rest of us and are comprised of citizens like the rest of us. They’re important members of the communities in which they play and their leadership and example are important to a great many people. They routinely release statements about things such as natural disasters, global pandemics, notable deaths, and any manner of other of non-sports event which impacts their communities. How massive public uprisings that are clearly affecting many of their own players is mostly given a miss is beyond me.

A more specific answer: the leagues and teams are never hesitant, for one moment, to comment on social progress, including racial progress, when it occurs and when they are a part of it. They are likewise quick to embrace and promote law enforcement when it suits their interests and puts law enforcement in a good light. Most teams host law enforcement appreciation nights, for example. Is it not fair to ask a baseball team that appreciates law enforcement for the good things it does to at least comment on the bad things it does? Is it not fair to ask why they are being so silent in this regard when the behavior of law enforcement is not anything to be appreciated?

One hopes that Major League Baseball’s silence on this matter is one of simple but understandable timidity to weigh in on a matter of such gravity. That the league and its teams are taking their time to craft just the right statements and that, when they got them down perfectly, they’ll be released.

One hopes, in contrast, that their failure to do so as of yet is not a function of their belief that these matters do not affect them, their players, their employees, their fans, and the communities which support them.