Nats’ Ross, Zim­mer­man to sit out

New York Daily News - - SPORTS - BY BRAD­FORD WIL­LIAM DAVIS

“I re­al­ize — we all re­al­ize — how for­tu­nate we are to have a job right now,” one Rangers em­ployee said to ESPN. “We were not fur­loughed. We were not fired al­to­gether like some staffers at other clubs. We’re able to con­tinue to keep our fam­i­lies fed.”

If Rangers work­ers can know that quit­ting their job to pro­tect their health would ex­pose them to un­em­ploy­ment rates ris­ing at COVID-speed, you can guar­an­tee their em­ployer knows they’re of­fer­ing more of a “So­phie’s Choice” than a real one.

“The health and safety of our em­ploy­ees are a top pri­or­ity, and the Rangers will con­tinue to dili­gently en­force the pan­demic pro­to­cols that are in place for front-of­fice em­ploy­ees at Globe Life Field,” the Rangers said in a state­ment, de­clin­ing to an­swer the Daily News’ ques­tions about what they would need to pull the plug. The state in­cluded manda­tory face­mask-wear­ing, tem­per­a­ture checks, and all sorts of things to keep Globe Life Field open for busi­ness, no mat­ter the cost.

This is where MLB should have in­ter­vened. Tell the Rangers that they’re need­lessly send­ing work­ers in to do a nonessen­tial task with min­i­mal ben­e­fit. The risk in­curred en­tirely by their staff isn’t worth the re­ward given en­tirely to the own­er­ship. This in­sis­tence on un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the threat of coro­n­avirus— again, be­ing nice — could kill some­one, ei­ther in your of­fice or the com­mu­nity that may have paid more than $1.6 bil­lion in taxes for your sta­dium — three times more than the Rangers’ es­ti­mate of pub­lic costs.

So call it off.

But the league won’t. Be­cause in­ter­ven­ing on the Rangers is a dou­ble stan­dard, one that would im­me­di­ately con­cede the en­tire ba­sis for base­ball in 2020 as a dan­ger­ous, fool­ish and ul­ti­mately self­ish en­deavor that car­ries a self­anointed air of im­por­tance, with safety risks passed on to ev­ery­one but the peo­ple who stand to profit the most.

As base­ball play­ers and coaches weigh the per­sonal risk of play­ing through a vi­ral pan­demic, some ath­letes around the league are an­nounc­ing their exit.

Na­tion­als team­mates Ryan Zim­mer­man and Joe Ross were among the first play­ers to pub­licly re­veal they weren’t go­ing to play through the pan­demic, opt­ing out of the 2020 sea­son, which was an­nounced in a state­ment via the team’s Twit­ter ac­count.

“Ryan Zim­mer­man and Joe Ross have de­cided not to par­tic­i­pate in the 2020 sea­son for the per­sonal health and safety of them­selves and their loved ones. We are one hun­dred per­cent sup­port­ive of their de­ci­sion to not play this year. We will miss their pres­ence in the club­house and their con­tri­bu­tions on the field,” said the team in a state­ment.

Zim­mer­man and Ross fol­low Di­a­mond­backs starter Mike Leake, who was the first to re­veal he was opt­ing out of 2020.

“Af­ter a great deal of thought and given my fam­ily cir­cum­stances — three young chil­dren, in­clud­ing a new­born, and a mother at high risk — I have de­cided not to par­tic­i­pate in the 2020 sea­son,” said Zim­mer­man.

The two-time All-Star is the long­est-tenured Na­tional ever, play­ing ev­ery sea­son in the team’s 15-year his­tory.

“Ev­ery­one knows how much it means to me to be part of a team, and I will miss that ca­ma­raderie dearly this year. Of course, I would love to pur­sue back-to-back ti­tles. I can­not speak for any­one else, but given the un­usual sea­son, this is the best de­ci­sion for me and my fam­ily, and I ap­pre­ci­ate the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s un­der­stand­ing and sup­port.”

Rangers have a nice, new ball­park in Globe Life Field, but the cost to get ev­ery­thing up and run­ning is get­ting high, es­pe­cially for work­ers. AP

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