With Major League Baseball’s return during the COVID-19 pandemic being unstable at best – especially given the Toronto Blue Jays’ expulsion from Canada – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended an interesting invite to teams across the country.
“New York state could host any Major League Baseball game that any teams want to play and they could play those games in our stadiums,” Cuomo said in a briefing on Tuesday, reports Politico. “New York state has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States. … I offer to Major League Baseball, if you’re having problems playing in other states, come play here.”
Excuse me, Governor, but have you looked at the CDC’s website recently?
For some reason, the CDC does Cuomo a favor and separates New York City from the rest of the state of New York. Not that this even does Cuomo much good statistically anyways.
At time of writing, the CDC lists New York state – sans its largest city – in fourth place for most COVID-19 cases among the 50 states, seventh for most cases per 100,000 people, second in most COVID-19 deaths, and seventh in COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people!
The CDC treats New York City as its own entity, and if we were to add it back into the rest of the state, the state of New York would be far and away the leader in total COVID-19 deaths. New York City alone already holds the lead in this category by nearly 8,000 over second place New Jersey.
Yeah, I’m sure MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is just dying to bring all 30 MLB teams to New York state in its present condition.
Besides, bringing the Miami Marlins and their own COVID-19 outbreak (17 players and coaches as of Tuesday) to New York seems like a poor strategy for alleviating the situation in New York. If the players on the Washington Nationals have enough sense to try and avoid traveling to Miami to play baseball, one would hope that Cuomo would have as much common sense as he supposedly attempts to protect the citizens of New York he was elected to serve.
The Marlins’ outbreak is already having effects outside of the South Florida team’s own schedule, with the Phillies, who opened the season against the Marlins, having their series against the Yankees postponed.
So why is it that Cuomo would invite MLB to hold its games in New York when he’s been so dictatorial regarding the everyday lives of ordinary citizens? Why endanger MLB’s players by concentrating them in one or a few locations? Why risk the citizenry of New York by importing COVID-19 positive ballplayers?
Politico reports Cuomo said continuation of the baseball season would be “good for the economy” and that “There’s no fans anyways, it’s just about the coverage, and New York is the media capital.”
But more than that, the coffers of New York would stand to gain an immense amount of income tax revenue if every Major League baseball player plies his trade in the Empire State.
Major League Baseball players usually play 81 home games and 81 away games in a season, with their income earned based on where they play. For the Milwaukee Brewers, 81 games are played in Wisconsin, with 50 percent of their income taxed in the same state. However, they will also have to pay a proportional share of taxes in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and any other state the team visits in a given season.
If all of MLB’s games are suddenly moved to New York, then New York goes from collecting taxes on half of the salaries of the Mets and Yankees and a smaller portion of their visiting opponents’ salaries, to collecting taxes on the full remaining salaries of every player in Major League Baseball this year.
In a full-sized ordinary season, the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, just one player, will pay around $1.5 million in New York State income taxes, and another $700,000 in New York City income taxes.
The numbers for individual players will not be so gaudy in this pandemic shortened season, but teams will still be paying out a total of $1.77 billion in adjusted player salaries this year, and New York would get to collect on that. Relocating all of that income to New York would provide an influx of tens of millions of tax dollars for Cuomo to spend on his pet projects thanks to New York’s high income tax rates.
So the message to take from Cuomo’s invitation to MLB is roughly this: Group gatherings are alright, as long as you’re contributing significantly to the state’s tax coffers.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the 17 sick members of the Marlins include both players and staff.
Flickr-Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, CC BY 2.0