Prepare for the Shaming – MLB Furloughs are Going to Be a Social Litmus Test

Over the weekend, The Athletic broke the story that Rob Manfred is expected to provide ownership the ability to furlough or reduce the pay of non-playing members of staff in reaction to COVID-19 related suspension of play.

This isn’t a mandate. In other words, there will be no verbiage instructing that teams SHOULD do this, only that they COULD. It could affect coaches of all levels, office personnel, scouts, basically, if you work in baseball and don’t play, you’re it.

This is expected to take effect on May 1st, which doesn’t bode well for how confident MLB is about getting back on the field, or the plethora of personnel that could very well feel the wrath of this lockdown financially very soon.

There’s the poop. I’m not surprised by any of that honestly. I expect much more of this the longer this goes on and you should too.  That said, business decisions like this are being made all over our country, in fact, the world.

None of this will stop the shamers. The first team that sticks their neck out and takes action on any of these is going to get lit up like a downtown Christmas tree by social media and “journalists” alike. They’d be wise to do it as a group to at least disperse the target a bit, but as we know well here in Pittsburgh, not all teams are in the same financial situation.

The immediate response prevalent seems to be these “billionaire owners” can afford to keep these folks employed. I’m sure that’s true, I’m sure they could, but how long are they supposed to in order to have done their part? Say the entire year is cancelled, should they continue to pay everybody regardless of ability to work while no revenue flows into the business?

As I said earlier, owners will be loathed to be the first to step on this ledge. To me it’s not much different than Disney making all the executives take pay cuts, or in some cases taking no salary. I find it incredible the ability of the social masses to spend another person’s money.

Let’s take it down to our level. In a way, the cable company works for you, as does the electric company, your cell phone carrier, they all work for you. So, imagine tomorrow you get an email from the cable company saying because of Covid-19 they would no longer be able to perform service visits and your DVR is permanently non-functional until such a time as they can get back to work.  But they’re hurting over at Cable R Us and they still need you to pay them full price.

What would your reaction be? Would you happily continue to pay full price, or would you potentially want to try and force them to take a pay cut? It’s silly right? You’d of course want to pay less, and you aren’t exactly thriving right now either.

Now, upscale that conversation. What does a scout do? They scout of course, and can that be done via video? Sure, somewhat, but here we have a situation where there is no new tape. At some point there is no job to be done. I’m not picking on scouts and I’m not even pretending to understand every intricacy of their work, I’m simply saying when your company stops making widgets, you don’t need people to sell widgets. So, in order to have society not call you “part of the problem” do you need to continue to employ 50 widget salesmen?

When bars stopped being capable of serving drinks inside, many bartenders and servers lost their positions. Some have adapted and been able to keep key employees going, but the vast majority have had to be laid off or furloughed. It’s devastating to the industry and those individuals, and we seem to understand it when it’s a local pub. What about a big boy? Like a national chain? Are we saying because Olive Garden is a billion-dollar business they should have indefinitely employed people no matter what?

Everyone understands what we’re doing here and everyone rational understands why it’s being done. Anyone that expected there to be no repercussions or pain as a result didn’t do the math. I’ll say it again, if you want places to go back to when this is over to put in an honest day’s work, don’t shame these businesses regardless of size when they take steps to be able to come back from it.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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