Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker issued an apology Wednesday, one day after criticizing Major League Baseball’s players for “holding out” for more money amid negotiations to potentially start up the baseball season in July.
"I want to apologize for leaving the impression that baseball players shouldn’t have the right to bargain to protect their health and safety," Pritzker said courtesy of 670 The Score in Chicago. "I absolutely support that right, and I should have made that more clear."
Pritzker himself received immediate criticism for seemingly putting the money issue ahead of the health and safety issues that are leading the negotiations. At one point, Pritzker stated the “people of the United States deserve to get their pastime back,” before adding he was “disappointed in many ways that players are holding out for these very, very high salaries” at a time when “everybody is sacrificing.”
Here are Pritzker’s full comments from Tuesday’s press conference, courtesy of Block Club Chicago’s Kelly Bauer:
Pritzker on MLB: "I realize that the players have the right to haggle over their salaries, but we do live in a moment where the people of Illinois and the people of the United States deserve to get their pastime back — to watch, anyway, on television. If they're able to come ...— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
"up with safety precautions, as has been suggested by Major League Baseball, that works, I hope that the players will understand that the people of our United States need them to recognize this is an important part of leisure time that all of us want to have in the summer: to ...— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
"watch them play baseball, to root for our favorite teams. We need that back. We need that normalcy. I must say I'm disappointed in many ways that players are holding out for these very, very high salaries and payments during a time when I think everybody is sacrificing."— Kelly Bauer (@BauerJournalism) May 12, 2020
The players had already agreed to accept a prorated salary in March. The push back now stems from owners attempting to force a pay cut for what amounts to half a season.
On Monday, team owners approved MLB’s plan for an 82-game schedule that would begin in early July. In doing so, they asked the players to accept a 50-50 split of revenues. Players union executive director Tony Clark quickly responded, calling the offer a "non-starter" while adding that MLB was “trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to institute a salary cap."
The money issue will undoubtedly be contentious. Then again, when isn’t the money issue contentious during negotiations?
With that in mind, it seemed premature on Tuesday and still seems premature more than 24 hours later to make the money a focus of any criticism directed at either side. Not while bigger issues, such as the players health and safety, remain front and center. There will be plenty of time for money talk once that bridge is reached.
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