Ladies and gentlemen, get your guilt trips ready. The battle to restart baseball has begun, as Major League Baseball team owners and the players union started negotiations Tuesday on a plan that would bring back baseball in July if everything goes well.
And just 24 hours after the owners OK’d the plan on their end, one politician is already painting the players as selfish and saying they owe it to the American people to get back on the field. Even as the country still wrestles with the coronavirus crisis.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday — while the league was giving the players union its first formal proposal — that he’s “disappointed in many ways that players are holding out for these very, very high salaries” and said “everybody is sacrificing.”
Money is expected to be the sticking point in negotiations, as owners want players to agree to a new revenue-sharing agreement instead of a prorated plan that was already agreed to in March. Players don’t want to shoulder the burden of the billionaire owners who never offer to share in the profits. They also have worries about health precautions that have thus far not been publicly addressed with any specificity. Coupled with what amounts to a pay cut, the idea of restarting baseball isn’t as easy as what Pritzker is painting.
Here are his full thoughts on the matter, via Kelly Bauer of Block Club Chicago:
Pritzker on MLB: "I realize that the players have the right to haggle over their salaries, but we do live in a moment where the people of Illinois and the people of the United States deserve to get their pastime back — to watch, anyway, on television. If they're able to come ...— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
"up with safety precautions, as has been suggested by Major League Baseball, that works, I hope that the players will understand that the people of our United States need them to recognize this is an important part of leisure time that all of us want to have in the summer: to ...— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
"watch them play baseball, to root for our favorite teams. We need that back. We need that normalcy. I must say I'm disappointed in many ways that players are holding out for these very, very high salaries and payments during a time when I think everybody is sacrificing."— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
In Illinois, home of both the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, there was also a record number of new COVID-19 cases announced Tuesday — 4,014, the most on any single day since the pandemic began. The state also announced the highest number of single-day tests. Total, Illinois has 83,021 cases state-wide with 3,601 deaths.
Pritzker’s comments were immediately met with pushback from Eireann Dolan, who is married to Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle. Dolan was raised in Chicago, and the couple remains active in social causes in the area.
This is wild to me. Players haven’t even seen a proposal yet. How can they be holding out on something they literally haven’t seen? https://t.co/8nanCIQnjL— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) May 12, 2020
Yes this is directed at you, @GovPritzker.— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) May 12, 2020
A disappointed Illinois resident
The larger issue this raises is just what players are up against in the debate to restart baseball. The first day of serious discussions, a governor characterized them as “holding out” just hours into talks. In sports, we’ve seen time and time again that fans will side with billionaire owners over millionaire players.
So if this is the first taste of the PR war for baseball players worried about their health and compensation, things could get ugly.
More from Yahoo Sports: