From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Anthony Davis is The Associated Press' college basketball Player of the Year, the first Kentucky player and second freshman to win the award. He received 43 votes Friday from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Balloting was done before the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-10 player from Chicago is the Southeastern Conference's Player, Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent. His block total is a school record and third best for a freshman. Kevin Durant of Texas in 2007 is the only other freshman to win the award. Thomas Robinson of Kansas was second with 20 votes, and Draymond Green of Michigan State received the other two votes. Jimmer Fredette of BYU won the award last season.
Tim Anderson is a baseball player. It’s how he makes a living for him and his family.
In this moment in history, he affirmed that indeed he is finding it difficult to try to care about baseball.
“I guess you could just say take care of what really matters,” he said during a conference call Monday afternoon. “I think this problem is bigger than baseball at the moment.”
Anderson, the reigning big league batting champ and the only Black American player on the White Sox roster, sees what’s happening across the country, watching the thousands of protesters demanding an end to police brutality against and the police killings of Black people in the wake of the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis.
“Definitely witnessing something I only have heard about but I never have lived in,” he said. “It was definitely crazy. Just to see the things that are going on and how the world is reacting, I think there are a lot of angry people out there who feel like they are going unheard.
“I think that’s why it’s boiling down the way it is and things are happening the way they are. There’s a lot of angry people out there.”
It’s impossible to think about athletes and the issue of police brutality against Black people and not think of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who took a stand by taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games. He enraged plenty in the process and has remained jobless despite being a Super Bowl quarterback in a league constantly searching for answers at the position.
Anderson hasn’t gone that far. He said he hasn’t participated in any of the protests. His public response to the current climate can be summed up in a few tweets, the most striking of which featured four pictures of him posing in front of the aftermath of Saturday night’s protests and separate acts of destruction and vandalism in Chicago. Monday, he described “the good, the bad and the ugly” of that aftermath as a piece of history, as well as art.
But as he’s made clear before, he’s not going to “stick to sports,” the instruction often lobbed at athletes who dare speak about anything but their chosen profession. Fans are always hungry for a baseball player’s comments on baseball. A certain subset of them has zero tolerance for their comments on just about anything else.
It’s a ridiculous way to act, as if all people should reserve their thoughts to their job and nothing more. And in these times with sports on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson perfectly explained why.
“We stand for more than just sports,” he said. “If you remove the sports, as you can see now, then what are we? We're human beings. We stand for more than our job title.
“People are trying to be themselves instead of just being ‘the baseball player.’ … I think it's just allowing more people to be themselves.”
Who knows how prevalent the tough conversations that lead to change are in clubhouses across Major League Baseball. Some players have spoken out on Twitter, including White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito. Asked about his conversations on these subjects with his teammates, Anderson singled out Giolito as someone he’s talked to before and someone who “gets it.”
“Gio is the person … we kind of conversate on a different level when it comes to certain things,” Anderson said. “You hear his perspective, and always using that as a learning tool. … He’s understanding it and kind of speaking out because we have talked about things, what it’s like growing up being black and how things are just not always what they are now.
“Definitely bold of him to speak out. Let me know he felt the love. I always knew how Gio felt about things and certain situations because that is a person I talk to. Just to see that, I definitely felt the love. He gets it and he understands it. So, I think that’s why he posted it. He wants what’s best, as well. I think we all do.”
Anderson isn’t even participating in the protests, and it's unfair to ask him to speak for Black America just because he’s the Black guy on his major league team.
But he’s an American citizen like the rest of us, and he’s choosing not to stick to sports and to act in a way he hopes can help solve what’s plaguing our country.
“We're at a moment where we need everybody's love, regardless of what race,” he said. “I think we're at a moment where we need to hold hands, every race, every color, it don't matter. I think we move better as one.”
The Ricketts family, more than any other owners in the NL Central, should be intrigued by the MLB Players Association’s economic counterproposal.
Overall, the proposal is the second step in a fiery tango, in which the players association and owners begin on opposite sides of the room and hopefully end up somewhere in the middle. The players’ response, which the union reportedly delivered to the league on Sunday, will almost definitely not be adopted in whole. But, in the midst of both sides’ hard-lining, the players extended the option to defer some player salaries if the postseason is cancelled.
As one of the top five spenders in MLB, the Cubs would be one of the teams most affected by that aspect of the proposal.
The prospect of losing the playoffs to a second wave of COVID-19 is the stuff of baseball owners’ nightmares. The postseason supplies especially lucrative TV deals, which become especially important as the league braces for a massive loss of revenue this year.
The MLBPA counterproposal addressed that fear by including deferrals, according to multiple reports. Contracts calling for salaries of $10 million or more (before proration) could be deferred, with interest. High-payroll teams could enjoy up to $7 million each in relief, The Athletic reported.
The Cubs have 10 players poised to make at least $10 million before their salaries are prorated this year, per spotrac.com.
– Jason Heyward, $23.5 million
– Yu Darvish, $22 million
– Jon Lester, $20 million
– Kris Bryant, $18.6 million
– Anthony Rizzo, $16.5 million
– Craig Kimbrel, $16 million
– Tyler Chatwood, $13 million
– Kyle Hendricks, $12 million
– Jose Quintana, $10.5 million
– Javier Baez, $10 million
That’s the most in the league. Twice as many as the White Sox. In the NL Central, the Cardinals (8) are the closest to catching the Cubs, followed by the Reds (5). On the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates don’t have any players with $10 million salaries.
There is, however, a Catch-22. According to chairman Tom Ricketts, 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenue comes from gameday operations. With such a high payroll, and fans banned from attending games for the foreseeable future, the Cubs organization is poised to take an especially large financial hit.
Still, Ricketts said on CNBC last week, “We’d definitely like to see baseball back."
A presentation from the commissioner’s office to the players association, obtained by the Associated Press, projected $199 million in local losses for the Cubs alone, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That estimate was based on an 82-game season without fans and with players taking prorated salaries.
If that number is accurate – the players continue to call on owners to open their books – $7 million wouldn’t be much relief in the face of a cancelled postseason. And, as mentioned before, it would come with interest. But by mentioning deferrals in a counterproposal, the MLBPA introduced an area for potential compromise.
The players quickly dismissed the league’s sliding scale proposal, which could reportedly pay the highest-paid players merely 20-30 percent of their salaries. But deferrals could help ease owners’ financial challenges this season without axing players earnings so drastically.