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Chipper Jones joined the chorus of current and former baseball players who feel that being publicly against MLB’s reported revenue-sharing plan to start the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season is a bad look.
Jones told The Athletic on Thursday that he had a problem with Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell saying he wasn’t going to risk his life to play baseball for a reduced salary while millions of Americans are out of work.
“I think it all started with Snell coming out last week and kind of doing what I feel was a poor job of wording it,” Jones said. “I think if he had left the money aspect out of it and just stuck to the health concerns — you know, that going back and playing baseball is touching a lot of other people than just the players.”
Chipper Jones played for the Braves for his entire career.
The 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner expressed his concerns on the livestream video platform Twitch.
“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, it’s a shorter season, less pay,” he said. “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? Like you know, I’m just, I’m sorry.”
Snell later told the Tampa Bay Times he knew his comments would make him look “greedy,” but clarified that he was focused on his own safety.
Jones said players need to understand that no one is going to sympathize with millionaire athletes taking pay cuts.
“It’s the players’ families, it’s grounds-crew members, it’s hotel staff … there’s just a lot of logistics that really have to be taken care of before everybody feels 100 percent safe,” Jones told The Athletic. “I think if he had stuck to that narrative, maybe the backlash wouldn’t have been what it was. But for him to come out and make it about the money and what he’s putting at risk — and then to have a couple of other players come out and back him?
“You know, the 30 million people in America that are out of work right now, they don’t want to hear about millionaire baseball players b—hing because they’re only going to get 25 or 30 percent of their salary this year. They don’t want to hear that. So, I thought [Snell’s comments] could have been worded a little differently. I haven’t heard anything else out of Snell, so I would imagine he probably got a phone call from Tony Clark and/or [Commissioner] Rob Manfred saying, ‘Hey, let’s temper what we say and maybe take a different narrative and make it less about money and more about people and people’s health.’”
MLB players already agreed to take a pay cut because of the shortened season. The players’ union responded to a proposal from the owners last week. The union said it addressed protections for high-risk players, access to pre- and postgame therapies, testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel, and sanitization procedures.
MLB was expected to make an economic proposal to the union and hopes to start the season in July.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.