Mark Teixeira wants baseball back, even if players are paid 'pennies on the dollar'

Ex-New York Yankees and Texas Rangers slugger Mark Teixeira wants baseball to come back amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and he thinks the players should accept any deal to make it happen — even one that pays them a fraction of their salary.

Speaking Tuesday on ESPN, Teixeira said players shouldn’t fight the revenue-sharing proposal from MLB owners, even though it’s likely to pay them far less than their already-reduced 2020 salaries. To Teixeira, bringing baseball back would be worth being paid less, even though he hasn’t played professional baseball in three years.

“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, via NJ.com. “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 off their career.”

Teixeira, who retired after the 2016 season and made more than $200 million over his 14-year career, appears to be forgetting the very reason baseball stopped in the first place: COVID-19, the highly contagious virus that attacks the lungs and can even kill you. While he won’t be suiting up or risking his life (and the lives of his family) to play baseball, he wants MLB players to do just that and agree to further salary reductions.

While the salary issues are huge, the health risk to baseball players, coaches, non-playing staff, and all their families is a major issue for the Major League Baseball Players Association. As Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle pointed out Monday on Twitter, there are numerous health and safety issues that have to be worked out before baseball can resume. No player wants to lose an entire year of their career, but some would probably be willing to if it meant they could avoid catching COVID-19 and passing it on to their families.

For a guy who doesn't play baseball anymore, Mark Teixeira sure has a lot of opinions on what baseball players should be paid for risking their lives. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
For a guy who doesn't play baseball anymore, Mark Teixeira sure has a lot of opinions on what baseball players should be paid for risking their lives. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

What’s strange about Teixeira’s comments — beyond the fact that he’s retired and advocating for players to take less money in exchange for risking their lives when he won’t be risking his own — is that he fully admits that it’s a bad deal from the players’ standpoint. He said that if it were him he wouldn’t like it, but he’d do it anyway.

“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 said. “These are unprecedented times. This is the one time that I would advocate for the players accepting a deal like this, a 50-50 split of revenues. It’s 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.”

Teixeira is right that these are “unprecedented times,” since everyone is putting themselves at risk of catching a deadly virus every single time they leave their homes. But with that comes a reorganizing of priorities. While many (if not all) desperately want to get back to baseball, MLB players may not be willing to “do whatever they have to do to play,” since doing so would put their health and the health of their families at risk.

Before COVID-19, losing an entire year of your baseball career was one of the absolute worst-case scenarios for an MLB player. But now, losing a whole season pales in comparison to serious sickness (especially since COVID-19 has damaging aftereffects that are just now being discovered) or even death. If those are the risks they’re facing just to start playing baseball again, taking the deal and getting paid “pennies on the dollar” simply won’t make it worth it.

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