Ian Desmond Praised For Heartfelt Essay on Why He Won't Play 2020 Season

Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced on Monday he will not take part in the 2020 MLB season, when baseball's campaign eventually gets underway this summer.

In a lengthy and emotional Instagram post, the 34-year-old cited the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the social impact of the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and baseball's labor struggle and its lack of diversity as the reasons behind his decision.

Addressing the latter issue, Desmond wrote: "Right now in baseball we've got a labor war. We've got rampant individualism on the field. In clubhouses we've got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems.

"We've got cheating. We've got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than eight percent Black players. No Black majority team owners.

"Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers. A lack of focus on making baseball accessible and possible for all kids, not just those who are privileged enough to afford it. If baseball is America's pastime, maybe it's never been a more fitting one than now."

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On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Originally scheduled for March 26, Opening Day was postponed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now that the MLB has finally agreed on a restart date after months of difficult negotiations between owners and the players' union, coronavirus cases are again spiking in some parts of the U.S. and at least 15 states have either paused or reversed plans to reopen after the lockdown.

As of Tuesday morning almost 2.59 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world.

Of the over 505,500 deaths recorded worldwide so far, 126,100 have been recorded in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking. With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what's going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys' questions about coronavirus and civil rights and life. Home to be their dad."

Desmond's heartfelt post was widely praised. ESPN's MLB insider Jeff Pasan said Desmond had perfectly summed up the feelings of many as he posted part of the message on Twitter.

The Rockies’ Ian Desmond has opted out of the 2020 season, but that feels secondary to a heartfelt, incisive Instagram post about his place in the world and baseball’s as well. The whole post is here: https://t.co/rLnOu3CP2k.

But the part I’ve attached is important and spot-on. pic.twitter.com/ndyE6juKbp

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 30, 2020

Molly Knight of The Athletic described the post as "outstanding", a feeling which was echoed by a number of other journalists and pundits who all praised the Rockies star's principled stance.

Ian Desmond is opting out of playing in MLB this season. In addition to Covid-19 he cites the MLB’s rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, cheating scandals, and labor wars. Please go to his Instagram to read the whole thing because, whew, it is outstanding. https://t.co/xnwg3vspxo pic.twitter.com/2vIvpzLegB

— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) June 30, 2020

Whatever you are doing: Stop. Read this essay by Ian Desmond. It is powerful on so many levels. It is amazing. https://t.co/uewPOUZUmq

— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) June 30, 2020

"If baseball is America's pastime, maybe it's never been a more fitting one than now."

"The golden rules of baseball--don't have fun, don't pimp home runs, don't play with character. Those are white rules."

This from Ian Desmond is worth reading: https://t.co/WcBmns50Pp

— eric nusbaum (@ericnus) June 30, 2020

This is how Ian Desmond’s announcement ends. His whole IG post is well worth reading here: https://t.co/lpH12Jh4aa pic.twitter.com/y3ZPqCswuB

— Sam Dykstra (@SamDykstraMiLB) June 30, 2020

For those few yahoos out there taking cheap shots at #Rockies Ian Desmond in the wake of his very heartfelt and difficult decision ... get a life.

— Patrick Saunders (@psaundersdp) June 30, 2020

An important and thoughtful must-read from Ian Desmond.

"Why aren't accessible, affordable youth sport viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids' development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It's hard to wrap your head around it." https://t.co/p1dp0JrVLj

— Kelyn Soong (@KelynSoong) June 30, 2020

Ian Desmond will not be playing the 2020 season. His reasons are eye opening, thought provoking and worth a read on his Instagram page https://t.co/SZSmoebbEo#rockies #mlb pic.twitter.com/9TrOOIPbTw

— Jenny Cavnar (@jennycavnar) June 30, 2020

Ian Desmond is opting out of this season, and the former National explains why in this incredibly thoughtful post. Everyone should read this. https://t.co/W7sWNfv1Bd

— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 30, 2020

Last week, MLB owners voted unanimously in favor of implementing the terms of the agreement they made with the MLB Players' Association on March 26. Spring Training will begin on July 1 and the regular season will consist of 60 games instead of the usual 162-game slate, with the postseason featuring 10 teams as it has done since 2012.

Players will earn full pro-rated salaries for every game they play, meaning that on a 60-game regular season basis players stand to earn approximately 37 percent of their full-season salaries.

In Desmond's case, the prorated portion of his 2020 salary amounts to approximately $5.5 million. However, he will forfeit the amount unless the MLB determines him a "high-risk" player in terms of health.

The two-time All-Star has one year and an option remaining on his five-year, $70 million contract after this season.

Ian Desmond, MLB
Ian Desmond #20 of the Colorado Rockies poses for a portrait during Photo Day at the Colorado Rockies Spring Training Facility at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 19 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Rob Tringali/Getty