Epstein: MLB’s Decision to not pay employees will prove disastrous

From Daniel R. Epstein at Baseball Prospectus on March 17, 2020:

Who doesn’t love a good apocalypse movie? The reason the genre is so successful isn’t because of our thirst for gore and carnage (well, maybe a little). Rather, it’s that characters reveal their true selves during a crisis. In everyday life, they mask their best and worst traits to assimilate with society. When that society collapses, the masks come off. We truly see which of them is focused on helping others survive, and which of them is only interested in self preservation or enrichment.

That’s all in good fun when it lasts just a few hours in a movie theater whilst munching popcorn, but now life is imitating art. We are in the throes of an unprecedented global pandemic. Our communities are shutting down, compelling us to stay safe indoors (and we should listen). As a result, hourly employees, wage laborers, and small business owners who can’t work from home are suffering, with little or no income with which to cover living expenses. Without sufficient intervention from the government to assist our financially vulnerable, the economic devastation will far outlast the actual virus.

As is so often the case, baseball is a microcosm of society. A world-shattering event has closed down the sport completely, and the masks have come off. The members of the MLBPA have a seat at the table to figure out what’s fair pay for them while games aren’t being played. It’s likely they’ll be fine, though, commissioner Rob Manfred does have the power to suspend contracts during a national emergency. The owners will lose some money whether they pay players or not, but not very much compared to the immense revenue they generate—$10.7 billion in 2019—or the incredibly high values of their franchises, each of which is worth at least $1 billion. However, these are only a very small percentage of the people who depend on baseball for their livelihood, and most of them will not be okay at all.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/57739/mlb-season-postponed-pay-workers/

Originally published: March 19, 2020. Last Updated: March 19, 2020.