Illinois governor says players owe it to American people to take pay cut and restart MLB

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.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says MLB players owe it to America to restart baseball. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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:

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.

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.

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