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Butherus: Go out and get that paper, Snell. And not a virus.

When asked about the possibility of restarting the Major League Baseball season in some form, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell opened up about a divisive issue. MLB appears intent on starting its season again, and Snell didn’t hold back.

He took a stand against MLB owners who expect the players to return to work for something less than what they are contractually obligated to. I respect how Snell framed his argument. He did it in terms that expose the dangers of American capitalism.

“Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof,” Snell said during a recent interview.

And he is right.

Going back to work right now is a risk for Snell and everyone else

Granted that is easy to say for a pitcher making millions of dollars a year to play a game. However, it sets a proper precedent for everyone, everywhere that is expected to put their lives, and that of their family, at risk so that others can enjoy a few creature comforts. Creature comforts like watching sports, having a drink in a bar, wandering around a hardware store, or even getting a haircut.

Snell signed a contract with his employers. If Snell risks getting sick to fulfill his end of the contract, Rays ownership should honor that by paying him what he is owed.

If, God forbid, Snell contracts the coronavirus and unwittingly passes it to his family members, he should have every right to sue Stu Sternberg for every penny of his being. That should go for every member of every organization across every sport thinking about restarting their games right now. Even if that person makes a full recovery, it shouldn’t matter. Catch COVID, you should have the right to financially destroy the person or people who forced you into those unsafe working conditions.

I guarantee the thought of guaranteed financial obliteration would frighten owners into making every possible decision in the name of employee safety. It might even consider that there are lives on the line beyond million-dollar middle infielders. It would be poetic if the locker room attendant who has to handle every athletes’ sweaty jockstrap every night ended up owning the team simply because his safety wasn’t ensured by greedy ownership.

This is a precedent that needs to be set throughout society.

Too many people right now embrace the idea that lives are expendable for the sake of the economy. This pandemic is very real. How many people would still think otherwise if they knew that there were real consequences? This pandemic is also 100% avoidable. Would people still feel like they have the right to defy orders and go out in public if they knew there would be consequences? Consequences enforced whether they knew they were a carrier of the virus or not. Consequences such as losing their house, their savings, and their entire livelihoods to the person they infected.

As with most things in our world, sports is just a microcosm of the greater world. The reason we all don’t have another $6,000 in our pocket right now from the latest coronavirus economic stimulus package? The bill didn’t include safeguards to protect businesses from legal liability if their employees became infected. What about all of the people needed behind the scenes that would make this possible? Florida governor Ron DeSantis just invited every pro sport to move their respective seasons to the Sunshine State. That’s a lot of hotel and restaurant workers and team support personnel needed to make that happen.

Modern capitalism demands that workers take all the risks while the benefactors of their labor reap the benefits.

There needs to be the threat of consequences. Too many people think they are smarter than they actually are right now. Financial ruin for those gambling with people’s lives would be one hell of a safeguard as we reopen the world. Just imagine someone like Cubs owner Tom Rickets and his entire family living in a cardboard box in an alleyway behind Wrigley. Not quite the American dream, is it?

So get your money, Blake. The risk is through the roof. The people that profit off of your potential sacrifice should have something to risk as well.

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