Yankees Editorial: Bombers must be more concerned about other issues than salaries

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, one of just...the worst guys (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, one of just...the worst guys (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images) /

Both the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) have spent much of May and all of June trying to reach an agreement on how to salvage the 2020 baseball season. However, time is growing short, and the roller-coaster negotiations ride must end soon if baseball is going to be played this year.

As we learned this past week, MLB has decided not to counter the MLBPA’s latest offer to play 70 games this season. Rather, the league is holding firm with its most recent offer of 60 games at full prorated salaries.

Players now have two choices: accept the 60-game offer with expanded playoffs, along with a guarantee to not file a grievance, or reject it and force MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to select a schedule, potentially without additional playoff teams, but still with the right to grieve the terms of the March agreement between the two sides.

Some analysts believe that a shorter 60-game schedule will be a significant disadvantage to the Yankees. The reasoning is that a great team like the Yanks will have much less time to overcome a slow start and other obstacles, such as injuries that might arise during the abbreviated season. In essence, the margin of error for the Yanks will be very small in such a shortened season.

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Conversely, such logic implies that average teams would have a greater chance to sneak into the playoffs in a shortened season than in a longer season with luck on their side. Just getting hot for a stretch of games could catapult a subpar club into the playoffs.

Without fans in the stands, nearly all the income for owners would be generated by television contracts. Regardless of how revenue is split between the owners and players, Yankee players have additional major concerns of which to be cognizant.

At this point, the plan is to have the players spend a short amount of time in Spring Training. Whether most Yankee players, especially pitchers and catchers, can get back into regular-season shape and in sync in merely two weeks is doubtful.

Even if many of those in pinstripes tried to stay in shape by working out during their recent time away, the rigor of a short Spring Training is an entirely different animal. Two weeks is not enough time for all Yankee players to rebuild their strength, stamina, and timing required for the regular-season, and serious injuries are very possible, especially for a team that is highly prone to injuries.

Indeed, New York Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad has expressed deep concern about the physical shape of players returning from the Covid-19 layoff. While some players have likely continued to workout during the pandemic, Ahmad believes there is a greater chance that most have not been staying in shape, thus making these players more susceptible to injury.


If this weren’t enough to worry about, there is now even greater concern about the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic on players. The Philadelphia Phillies had eight people test positive for the virus in Clearwater, Florida, which is located near Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Four members of the Yankees organization in Tampa have just tested positive for the coronavirus, and more results are pending.

During this month there has also been a spike in cases in Florida and Arizona, the two states with numerous Spring Training complexes. Therefore, on Friday MLB ordered spring training facilities to be closed for workouts and undergo a deep cleaning and sanitizing process.

While COVID-19 has negatively impacted the health of older people the most, being young does not exempt anyone from experiencing long-term lung scarring, neurological problems, and other serious health problems assuming one survives the disease. In fact, the current spike in cases in various states is concentrated among those in their 30s and 40s.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, out of nearly two million cases reported in the U.S., 36% are between the ages of 18 to 44 (representing the entire Yankee roster by age). (Another 28% are between the ages of 45 and 64, the ages of Manager Aaron Boone and his coaches.)

Overall, over 120,000 people have died from the virus, and 200,000 plus is predicted by the Fall. This virus is more deadly than a cold and the flu.

Even if all health and safety precautions are taken, it will be nearly impossible to regulate player behavior outside the ballpark. The Bombers have several young players who may not take the health risks seriously, and older personnel and staff who could suffer the most if they are infected.

Yankee players cannot be completely isolated from the rest of the world while traveling, lodging, and playing baseball. Even if numerous precautions are taken, the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 can still lead to many Yanks getting infected and possibly requiring hospitalization.

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I understand that many if not most Yankee fans hope that an agreement can be reached between the players and the owners so that they can see a resumption of baseball. I miss baseball, too. But whether the agreed-upon salaries for the players will be worth the risk of injury and contracting COVID-19 is up to the players.