Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper gave some brief thoughts Thursday night on a pressing topic. He, a baseball player, weighed in on the discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association about reduced pay during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
For his troubles, he received on Friday the full wrath of ESPN’s Professional Screaming Man Stephen A. Smith.
Harper said during a Twitch stream Thursday night that Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell – who said he wouldn’t play in 2020 if his salary was further reduced – was “right”, and that Snell was “speaking the truth”.
Smith apparently didn’t appreciate Harper taking that stance.
— First Take (@FirstTake) May 15, 2020
“What are you doing? Shut the hell up, and let the Players Association speak,” Smith shouted during a segment Friday, targeting Harper.
“You can’t tell people, at a time when 33 million people plus are on unemployment at this time, you can’t sit up there, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get mine. I can’t accept half of $7 million.’ Shut up. That’s just dumb. Period.”
When Kellerman tried to argue that Snell, who hasn’t yet signed a lucrative deal, might be in the right, Smith brought things back to Harper.
“Bryce Harper said something, Max. Bryce Harper said something. Bryce Harper agreed with him, publicly,” Smith continued. “You just signed for 300 million-plus dollars. A 13-year, guaranteed contract. Why are you opening your mouth? Shut up.”
Kellerman tried to remind Smith that the team owners are worth significantly more than players, but Smith reiterated his stance that Harper should leave the arguing to the Players Association.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman helped illustrate the current situation this week:
The initial agreement guaranteed players a full year of service time, 4% of their 2020 salaries through the end of May, and then the prorated amount of their salary based on the number of games played this season.
However, owners have since pushed for a 50-50 revenue split with players because of the extraordinary circumstances, and are seeking a further reduction of the prorated pay because of the steep financial losses of playing out a season without fans in the stands. Ticket sales accounted for approximately $4-5 billion last season.
The players’ association, led by executive director Tony Clark, has countered that the owners are taking advantage of the global pandemic to institute a salary cap.
A global pandemic putting professional sports on indefinite pause isn’t normal, so it’s hard to say if anyone is handling this situation incorrectly. Harper spoke up about what he feels is right and fair, and it’s hard to blame him for doing so.
Hopefully we can see actual games this summer and move on.
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