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Dan Bickley

Blake Snell’s obtuse remarks have done damage to MLB players’ union

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws during spring training baseball camp Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Port Charlotte, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Blake Snell is a rotten banana. He’s the new poster boy for Spoiled Athlete. He refuses to take a pay cut to throw a baseball in the midst of a pandemic because it’s all about him. And he just did immeasurable damage to the image and motives of the players’ union.

Unemployment is nearing 20%. People are risking their lives stocking shelves, guarding the airport and tending to the sick. And Snell won’t play a sport for less than his guaranteed $7 million, at a time when the country needs real sporting heroes more than ever before?

Combine the message, his delivery, the voice and the timing of his remarks, and Snell might’ve unleashed the most tone-deaf, acidic remarks since Rob Manfred referred to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal.”

But sometimes we expect too much from our professional athletes.

“I’m not an athlete. I’m a professional baseball player,” John Kruk said.

Sometimes we expect athletes/professional baseball players to remain grounded in reality, to somehow retain a shred of modesty.

“It ain’t the heat. It’s the humility,” Yogi Berra said.

And humility is hard to retain when you’re rich and famous.

“I feel like I’m the best, but you’re not going to get me to say it,” Jerry Rice said.

And sometimes athletes can’t help but say stupid things.

“I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father,” Greg Norman said.

Sometimes their words even leave a permanent stain.

“Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play Football. We ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS,” Cardell Jones tweeted.

And sometimes elderly sports folk from a different generation should even be forgiven for what stumbles out of their mouth.

“Aw, how could he lose the ball in the sun? He’s from Mexico!” Harry Caray said.

We also know athletes aren’t good with numbers, math or talking about money.

“They shouldn’t throw at me. I’m the father of five or six kids,” Tito Fuentes said.

“I want to rush for 1,000 yards or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first,” George Rogers said.

“I’ve got a family to feed,” Latrell Sprewell said.

“People think we make $3 million to $4 million a year. They don’t realize that most of us only make $500,000” Pete Incaviglia said.

But not since Adrian Peterson likened a NFL career to “modern-day slavery” has an athlete said something as wickedly obtuse as Snell. Even worse, his offensive remarks span whole paragraphs.

“I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK?” Snell said.

Not a penny less than what he’s owed.

“Bro, I’m risking my life,” he said.

Except it’s not about his life. Because Snell said he’ll play for full salary, and surely, a 27-year old ace values his life more than $7 million.

In the end, it’s about the money because it’s always the money. And Snell merely said what many of the top earners in MLB are feeling, that they are not going to play baseball in empty stadiums in the midst of a pandemic for a pittance of their scheduled annual wage.

Snell was just dumb enough to open his mouth.

“If I’m gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I’m getting paid because of the season’s cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that’s already there … so I’m really getting like 25%. On top of that, it’s getting taxed. So imagine how much money I’m actually making to play, you know what I’m saying?”

No. But I know how Snell is sounding. Like an answer to a trivia question:

Who killed Major League Baseball during the Pandemic of 2020?

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier