Tampa Bay Rays star pitcher and former AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell made news earlier this week on Twitch by indicating that he does not want to risk his life by returning to work during the ongoing pandemic for pennies on the dollar.
Snell’s comments were met by support from some and the ire of others. Specifically, the following remark proved to be divisive.
“I’m sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower,” Snell said. “Why would I think about doing that? Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to go — for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. It’s a shorter season, less pay.”
Snell has since been backed up by other big-name players, former NL MVP Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies included.
He’s now doubling down on this take.
“I want people to understand, what I’m saying is real. I’m concerned just like everybody else about the virus, and I want to make sure me and my peers are taken care of. We want to play under circumstances that we agreed upon as a group,” Snell said, via Josh Tolentino of The Athletic. “I will play if I get 50 percent and we play 50 percent of the season. But to accept making less than that and with more risks for our health, it’s not fair to the players.”
The boisterous pitcher is specifically talking about owners wanting some sort of revenue share plan for a potentially truncated 2020 season. Players are already taking prorated salaries. Add in a revenue share plan, and their pay will be minuscule compared to previous seasons.
It’s been hard for the common folk to understand given that first responders in the healthcare community continue to put their lives on the line for a fraction of what professional athletes make. Heck, those working in grocery stores and food delivery services are earning pennies while also putting their livelihood on the line to feed the likes of Snell.
The pitcher addressed this, too.
“I have love for all the essential workers. I have friends and family who are in health care, working essential jobs,” Snell said. “Everybody needs to understand this is us wanting fair treatment during a crazy time with the pandemic going on.”
There’s no easy answer to these questions. More than at any point since the Great Depression, there’s a societal fracture between those considered well off and aspects of the community struggling economically during this pandemic.
It’s possible to understand where Snell is coming from while also calling into question his specific remarks.
For the sake of clarity, Snell is currently playing under a five-year, $50 million contract. He’d still earn multiples of millions under a potential revenue-share plan while pitching 15-17 games in the process.