Facebook Twitter



Don Mattingly on the dole?

It could happen in New York, the only state where striking major league baseball players will become eligible for unemployment benefits.But a state senator said Thursday he will introduce a bill next year that would prohibit striking players from receiving benefits.

"New York must be the land of milk and honey," said state Sen. Joseph Holland, a Republican from New City. "It is the only place where you can make millions of dollars playing a game, ask for more money and get unemployment benefits while you strike."

New York is one of only two states that provides unemployment benefits to strikers - baseball or otherwise. Rhode Island is the other, but it doesn't have any major league teams.

Strikers become eligible for benefits eight weeks after a work stoppage, so Bobby Bonilla, Paul O'Neill and the rest of the New York Mets and Yankees can sign up for benefits at their local unemployment office starting Oct. 7. The strike began Aug. 12.

Benefits are based on half an employee's weekly salary up to $300, state Labor Department spokeswoman Kathy Do said. Other team employees affected by the strike, such as batboys and ticket takers, can also receive benefits for as long as 26 weeks, she said.

Do said she could not comment on whether the Labor Department has had any inquiries from ballplayers.

Holland said he was outraged that players who earn multimillion-dollar salaries can collect unemployment. He pledged to introduce his anti-benefit bill when the Legislature returns to Albany in January.

"This whole strike has been about one thing - greed," Holland said. "Ball players and owners are not sitting around clipping coupons worrying about how to pay their utility bills. The real victims of the strike are the people whose livelihood is dependent on baseball."