Covid-19, the coronavirus, has touched all of us in many ways. It has altered every aspect of our daily lives; shelter in place and social distancing are the phrases of the day. Bars, restaurants, malls and movie theaters are all closed. Schools and places of worship are closed as well. Anxiety and stress levels are high.
As you are reading this on a baseball-related platform I am sure you are eagerly waiting for the resumption of baseball activities at both the Major and the Minor league level. MLB suspended operations on March 12th and there is no known date as to when the season may start.
Players and fans alike felt the sting of that decision but the safety of all is paramount. Although disappointing on many levels, it was a necessary decision in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines.
Professional baseball players do not receive paychecks until the season starts. As such, the Minor league players are affected the most due to the delay in the start of the season. They have not received any compensation since last September and are unsure of when their next paycheck will come.
I recently spoke with two players about what they were going through and experiencing due to the suspension of the season. I choose not to reveal their names so as to not cause them and their families any additional hardship.
One of the players I spoke to relayed that he and his wife were “stuck” in Sarasota, Florida for four days until hopefully being able to return home. His wife is a real estate agent in the state that they call home so they may have some income. I personally would suspect that source of income will be unreliable in the short-term as social distancing and stay-at-home orders will make it impossible to show houses for sale. Additionally, how many people are actually looking to buy a home when many are temporarily out of work and uncertain about what the future holds.
The second player was more vocal and sent me a tweet that he said, “is honestly exactly the way I feel”.
A statement from one of our players on the handling of the COVID-19 situation pic.twitter.com/jjHYHLTuyh
— More Than Baseball (@mtb_org) March 15, 2020
He added that he was, “messed with emotionally” by being told one night that he could go home. He packed up and prepared to leave only to receive an e-mail the next morning telling him that he was not to leave Sarasota and that the facilities were closed. Working out to try to stay in game shape became impossible at that point since he could not even retrieve his gear from the facility.
He found out that night that night that he was going to be allowed to home. He and a teammate were sent to the airport the following morning at 4:30am and didn’t get a flight until five hours later. So, in a span of
24 hours, he bounced from going home to stay put in Florida to now you can go home.
He finished with this, “not getting paid is truly devastating to my wife and I. She had to get the brakes on her car fixed the other day and today we woke up with less than $5 in our bank account and she doesn’t get paid until next Friday.” It is “really hard and unfortunate” is how he ended the conversation.
Since I spoke to these players all of the Orioles’ offices and those of the affiliates have closed out of an abundance of caution. Major League Baseball has promised payments to the minor league players, but it may not be enough to get through.
Workers at the Major League facilities are going to receive some compensation from the teams and MLB, but seemingly forgotten are the workers, broadcasters and team employees at the minor league level.
This pandemic may not make everyone sick but it is touching the lives of everyone in significant ways.