By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Making $213 million to play baseball can buy you a lot of things. But it can’t buy self-awareness.
Enter Mark Teixeira for Exhibit A.
The former All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman who signed a $180 million contract with the New York Yankees has expressed his belief that players need to do whatever is necessary to salvage the 2020 MLB season, even if that means taking “pennies on the dollar.”
In the budding battle of millionaires vs. billionaires, Teixeira has aligned himself with the big dogs.
“Players need to understand that if they turn this deal down and shut the sport down, they’re not making a cent,” Teixeira said on ESPN. “OK? So I would rather make pennies on the dollar and give hope to people and play baseball than not make anything and lose an entire year of my career.”
In one statement, Teixeira is arguing several different points. Yes, playing baseball is better than not paying baseball … but the insinuation that the players should roll over and take pay cuts to appease the billionaire owners is a rather odd stance for a former player to take.
It’s also extremely easy for a player to say after he made his hundreds of millions of dollars in the game.
“The problem is that you have people all over the world taking pay cuts, losing their jobs, losing their lives, frontline workers putting their lives at risk,” Teixeira continued. “These are unprecedented times. And this is the one time that I would advocate for the players accepting a deal like this. A 50-50 split of revenues is not that crazy. If you really think about it and boil it down to what the players usually get from a revenue standpoint, it’s actually lower than 50 percent of the baseball revenue for a full season. So if I’m a player, I don’t like it. But I’m going to do whatever I have to do to play and that means taking this deal.”
Again, the first part is dead-on accurate, and it’s precisely why the country has no appetite to see the bickering unfold over something as insignificant to humanity as baseball. Teixeira, however, fails to consider that billionaire owners could also agree to take a slight hit in the wallet, especially considering it’s the players who will actually be putting themselves at risk of exposure to the virus by playing, traveling, and sharing a clubhouse with dozens of people. Without a plan in place to ensure health and safety, and without a straight answer on whether players will have to live in isolation away from their families, it’s flat-out wrong to state definitively that it’s the players’ responsibility to agree to whatever deal is thrown at them right now.
Teixeira also failed to address the fact that owners agreed in late March to pay the players a prorated salary. That is, if the season were to be 81 games, then players would make half of the original salaries they were supposed to make for 162 games. You could argue whether or not that’s the fairest agreement, but the owners did agree to it and are now changing their minds. (Or, if you’re Teixeira, you could just ignore that aspect entirely.)
Teixeira’s comments were enough to catch the attention of former pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who twice shared a clubhouse with Teixeira. The former Ranger, Angel, and Yankee caught some heat from all over the baseball world.
Tex was quite possibly the most pro-union player I came across in my career. A few years ago this would be recognized as an 'under duress' message. https://t.co/ULrUNtUkuI
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) May 13, 2020
Teixeira was drafted in 1998, asked for too much money, turned it down. Then he was drafted 5th in 2001 — would have been 4th, but everyone knew he was asking for so much money the Phillies didn't bother. Then he made $213 million. This is all fine, of course, but also: zip it. https://t.co/d1AmWVIg20
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) May 12, 2020
Mark Teixeira of all people understands this being he took pennies on the dollar to play in front of his hometown Orioles fans instead of getting market value with the Yankees. https://t.co/AfEHDurBND
— Joe Randazzo🗽(Bronx Pinstripes crew) (@Yankeelibrarian) May 13, 2020
I for one agree with Teixeira. Players should lead by example. His notable sacrifice after the 2008 financial crisis is a reminder of his dedication to the fans first and money a distant second. pic.twitter.com/HgNPbF7oUz
— Old Hoss Homebound (@OldHossRadbourn) May 12, 2020
I refuse to judge someone I don’t really know off of one comment but damn this statement is just so stupid lol https://t.co/RoLeSVKEiF
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) May 13, 2020
Of course, Teixeira carefully made some important points that are more than valid. Surely, anyone working in the medical industry will feel no sympathy for any baseball player. Likewise, small business owners who are losing money every day can understand the owners’ push to alter the structure of the league’s payroll for one unique season. And anybody who’s struggling with money right now does need to hear about players fighting to make $3 million instead of $1 million this year. Understood.
But Teixeira’s complete omission of any sacrifices or bending on the owners’ side shows precisely where his allegiances oddly lie in this fight.
At this particular point in American history, people all over the country are in rough shape. Because of that, there will be people who side with the players, and there will be people who side with the owners. There is room for both groups in this great land of ours.
Mark Teixeira, though, might want to sit this one out.