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Pritzker Apologizes for Criticizing Baseball Players Amid Negotiations Over MLB Start Date

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has apologized for comments he made criticizing Major League Baseball players amid negotiations to potentially start up the baseball season later this summer.

Pritzker made the comments during his daily press conference on the state’s handling of the coronavirus Wednesday.

“I want to apologize for leaving the impression that players shouldn’t be allowed to bargain to protect their health and safety,” the governor said. “They absolutely have that right, and I should have made that more clear.”

Reports began surfacing this week that MLB owners had come up with a proposal to start the baseball season in July, with teams playing in their home stadiums. The main sticking point between the two sides will likely be player compensation, as owners want to split revenues with players rather than paying out prorated salaries.

Players have balked at that idea, leaving questions about whether the season will get started in the timeframe originally proposed.

Pritzker criticized players for their salary demands Tuesday.

“I realize 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,” he said. “If they’re able to come up with safety precautions, I hope that the players will understand that the people of our United States need them to recognize that this is an important part of the leisure time that all of us want to have during the summer to watch them play baseball, to root for our favorite teams.

“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,” he added.

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