Blake Snell, age 27, pitches for Tampa Bay. He won the American League Cy Young award in 2018. In his other three big seasons, he’s been mediocre.
Snell grabbed headlines by saying he won’t play in 2019 if doing so entails taking a pay cut. He explained:
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. . . .
No, I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that’s just the way it is for me. Like, 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. Why would I think about doing that?
Bro, I’m risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It should 100% be a thing. If I’m gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I’m getting paid because the season’s cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that’s already there — so I’m really getting, like, 25%.
On top of that, it’s getting taxed. So imagine how much I’m actually making to play, you know what I’m saying?
I think I do.
Trying to sound less selfish, Snell later added:
I mean honestly it’s just scary to risk my life to get Covid-19 as well as not knowing and spreading it to the others. I just want everyone to be healthy and get back to our normal lives cause I know I miss mine!
Given Snell’s age and health, playing baseball under the conditions MLB contemplates poses virtually no risk to his life or to the lives of others, assuming he observes reasonable social distancing practices and stays away from the elderly. The risk isn’t “through the roof,” it’s de minimis.
Apparently, Snell believes the risk is worth taking for $7 million (and maybe for somewhat less money). But not for around a mere $2 million, especially since it’s taxed.
That’s his call to make. If Snell really is as fearful as he claims to be, and if he can afford to skip a season, maybe he should stay home unless he gets “his money.”
Fortunately, the people who deal with the public in food stores, for example, are willing to assume far greater risk than Snell would confront by playing baseball in empty parks. Otherwise, the nation would break down. (It won’t break down without Snell or without baseball.)
But I imagine that some workers performing vital services wouldn’t work if they were as financially secure as Snell must be.