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The Loop

Sean Doolittle pledges to pay Nationals minor leaguers’ salaries, might help you feel a tiny bit better about the world


Alex Trautwig

UPDATE: Less than 24 hours after Doolittle announced his plans on Twitter, the Washington Nationals reversed their decision to cut $400 minor-league stipends. See kids, speaking up can actually work!

A big part of me doesn’t want to write this story today. A big part of me doesn’t want to write ANY story about sports today. A weekend ago, our little corner of the world had major problems—coronavirus, collective bargaining agreements, possible MLB extinction. Today? Well, let’s just say there are much bigger fish to fry.

But, if I do have to write a sports story today. If I do have to sit here and grin and bear it—do the ol’ song and dance because sPorTs aRe MeAnT tO bE aN eScApe—then I’m glad it’s this story because this story might actually make you feel a tiny eensie, teensie bit better about the world.

On Sunday, after the Washington Nationals announced the release of 30 more minor leaguers and a 25% pay cut for all non-major-league players in their system, closer Sean Doolittle took to Twitter to announce that he and the rest of the Nationals’ major-league squad would make up the difference for every minor leaguer's paycheck out of their own pockets. This is normally the kind of thing where people say “it’s the least I could do,” but in this case it’s literally not.

If you’re wondering why this is a big deal, the Nationals’ minor-league stipend was $400 a week. That’s hardly enough to make rent every month, let alone build a safety net to last through what looks likely to be the cancellation of the entire MiLB season. While former Mets’ minor leaguers have pulled back the curtain on their embarrassing spring training lunches and ugly Tebow truth, it’s nice to see at least one organization in the NL East taking care of their own . . . even if the players had to do it themselves.

So go ahead and take this with a grain of salt. It isn’t going to save the world. It isn’t going to save baseball. Hell, it might not even save some of these players from having their lifelong dreams crushed because a bunch of neo Rockefellers and nouveau Carnegies can’t be bothered to pay their employees a living wage. Like we said, sports are meant to be an escape, but the fact is sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes real life spills over. Sometimes they make you feel worse. But who knows. Maybe this evokes the opposite feeling. Something called hope. Perhaps you remember it.