On Monday afternoon the Major League Baseball owners approved a proposal to be forwarded to the Major League Baseball Players Association on Tuesday at some point. There are a lot of obstacles that are expected to need to be worked out. Pay is the one that is on the mind of everyone is the way the money will break down. The two sides agreed in late March on how salary would be handled, but now MLB is trying to back track that stating they believed that deal was contingent on fans being in stadiums. They are attempting to have a revenue sharing plan for 2020 instead of the agreement that they already made with the players. And it’s reportedly a non-starter for the players association.
But for the players, it’s more than just the money. Since the beginning they’ve constantly spoken about things needing to be safe before they would return to play baseball. Sean Doolittle, who has been in the Major Leagues for eight seasons now with Oakland and Washington, and is a 2-time All-Star, went to twitter on Monday afternoon to share his thoughts on all of this.
Bear with me, but it feels like we've zoomed past the most important aspect of any MLB restart plan: health protections for players, families, staff, stadium workers and the workforce it would require to resume a season. Here are some things I'll be looking for in the proposal…
— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) May 11, 2020
There’s an entire thread of things he addresses, so let’s dive into it a little bit more.
He notes that there are many things we still don’t know many things about this virus, including the long-term effects. He noted that there are known respiratory issues – even among those who were asymptomatic, as well as evidence that it may also be causing kidney, intestinal, liver, and neurological malfunctions – as well as blood clots and strokes (he cites this article from the Washington Post, this article from Vox). And then there’s this article, also from Vox, that notes that there may be a link between this virus and hormone issues that may lead to fertility complications.
Doolittle also discusses that we are learning that sharing indoor spaces increases the infection risk (and he cites these articles: medRxiv.com, The Fern, and The CDC. He would like to know what modifications and preventions can be taken to the clubhouses and other facilities to prevent the potential spread of the virus. He would also like to know how frequently staff (not just the baseball roster staff, but everyone involved in the making the game happen) and players will be tested given that you spread the most virus before you ever show symptoms that you are sick (he cites this study out of Denmark).
He continues by asking about additional healthcare benefits for the players, staff, and workers that would extend beyond their employment and into their retirement given the current known risks involved with the virus. He wants, as he says “both a proactive health plan focused on prevention AND a reactive plan aimed at containment”.
Doolittle closes out his entire tweet thread with this:
It’s worth noting that as of the time this article was written and published, the proposal from Major League Baseball has not been sent to the players to review (though Tony Clark, head of the MLBPA has responded based on publicly leaked parts of the proposal). All of Sean Doolittle’s questions are things that he hopes to see addressed within it. But as a veteran player he’s likely to make his voice heard loud and clear if they aren’t, too. He’s just one guy among 1200 players in the union who will have a say. But it’s also very unlikely that he is the only one that feels this way, too.
13-year veteran Jerry Blevins, now with the Giants, quoted Doolittle’s thread and asked: “Will my conscience allow me to put my loved ones at risk?”
Thread from the mind of a player who is looking big picture. It's easy for us to say we want to play. But will my conscience allow me to put my loved ones at risk? https://t.co/yTeHCod1fV
— Jerry Blevins (@jerryblevins) May 11, 2020
There will be a lot of focus on the money side of things in the coming days. There should be a lot of focus on the stuff that Sean Doolittle is talking about, too. And it’s good to see that it’s out there already, because it’s an important thing that shouldn’t be overlooked in the slightest when the public is talking about what’s being negotiated between the owners and the players, because the two sides of the table carry vastly different risks. Both sides are risking the loss of money. Only one side is risking the health of themselves and their families (and as Doolittle points out – many people who don’t get a vote in it at all – basically every non-player, including managers and coaches).
We all want baseball back on our televisions and in our lives. The players want to play. They want those paychecks, too – just like the owners do. But there needs to be safe ways to make it happen, too.