MLB Issues Ridiculous Defense Of Anti-Player Legislation
Thursday, in response to the anti-player Save America’s Pastime Act proposed by some jerk in Congress and denounced by it’s no-longer-as-jerky co-sponsor a day after she was bombarded with negative reactions, MLB released a totally bogus statement siding with the legislation, that makes them sound like a bunch of freaking idiots. In my humble opinion. I’ll just walk us through the text, point by point, and tell you why they’re either wrong or dumb, or maybe just making things up.
“There are approximately 7,500 players in Minor League Baseball.”
Good start, seems about right. Maybe I’ve misjudged you, MLB.
“MLB pays over a half a billion dollars to Minor League players in signing bonuses and salary each year.”
Maybe not. That money is paid to minor leaguers, but a signing bonus is not salary; it’s an incentive to sign a contract instead of going to college to play baseball and/or other sports, or instead of staying in college to continue playing baseball, or, eventually, instead of being a math teacher or a scientist or an IT professional or a businessman. Also, from Baseball America’s JJ Cooper:
Things to note in that release, MLB lumps bonuses and salary together because bonuses to top picks/int’l players is much more than salaries.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 30, 2016
“Minor League clubs could not afford these massive player costs.”
This is about the dumbest thing anyone has ever thought and then put in writing. Probably you could find dumber, and hey, there’s like half a dozen more sentences in this release, so we may yet. Of course minor league teams can’t afford these costs. They’re reliant on their parent clubs. These aren’t knock-off baseball clubs in a parallel league. They’re MLB’s teams with MLB’s players and coaches.
“MLB heavily subsidizes Minor League Baseball by providing Minor League clubs with its players, allowing professional baseball to be played in many communities in the United States that cannot support a Major League franchise.”
The idea that we’re to make some distinction between affiliated minor league teams and their parent clubs continues – they “subsidize” the MiLB clubs? Compared to independent leagues, this is true, but to pretend that the clubs would not operate without MLB assumes that MLB would ever not want to operate teams and leagues to develop their young players. It’s a fallacy. If MLB thought it made sense to teach their players without traveling and without playing in front of increasingly large crowds, they would shut it all down and play complex ball from rookie to AAA.
“Moreover, for the overwhelming majority of individuals, being a Minor League Baseball player is not a career but a short-term seasonal apprenticeship in which the player either advances to the Major Leagues or pursues another career.”
Describing the minors a short term seasonal apprenticeship makes my blood boil with regards to the expectations on players
— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) June 30, 2016
Ahh…”seasonal”. This argument is sickening. You know what’s seasonal? Cleaning toilets at a water park in New England. When the park closes for the summer, you go home and find something else to do for money for the rest of the year, and YOU DO NOT THINK ABOUT CLEANING TOILETS AT THE WATER PARK OR PRACTICE CLEANING TOILETS OR LIFT WEIGHTS AND RUN AND EAT PROPERLY SO YOU’RE READY TO CLEAN TOILETS NEXT JUNE.
And when the “season” ends, the expectation for many players is to be available for instructional league, with no pay. After that, plenty of minor league players do have other jobs in the off-season. I can recall hearing of Phillies affiliated players working as substitute teachers and home improvement store employees, among other things. Those that make decent bonuses from the draft or International Amateur free agency can spend their time training and relaxing and getting healthy for the upcoming year. Those that do not often need the money just to survive. And if you can’t take the time to stay in shape, or work your throwing program or get in your hitting, at best you’ll fall behind the curve, and at worst, if the club thinks you’ve shown a lack of dedication, you’ll simply be cut. The rest of us call that “being fired”. Seasonal employees don’t risk being fired for not honing their skills all winter, nor for showing up half a uniform size larger.
And when the next “season” of your employment rolls around? Spring Training. And you know what they like? When you show up early. And you know what’s frowned upon? Showing up ON TIME. They won’t pay you for the spring, but if you don’t give them more of your time than they’re allowed to require? Tsk, tsk, young man. A mark against you.
Were I flush with extra time, I could write a lot more about the asinine phrase “short-term seasonal apprenticeship”, but I think nine-year minor leaguer Colin Young says it pretty well:
— Colin Young (@OleGreyBeard) June 30, 2016
The game I gave my heart & soul to since I was 5 is now diminishing all the blood, sweat, & tears it took to make a dream possible. @MLB
— Colin Young (@OleGreyBeard) June 30, 2016
“Minor League Baseball players always have been salaried employees similar to artists, musicians and other creative professionals who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
Except, none of those other professionals are dictated to by a ~$10B a year conglomerate of corporations. If they are? They’re called contractors and they make real money. Or they’re hired as employees, and make real money.
“Like those professionals, it is simply impractical to treat professional athletes as hourly employees whose pay may be determined by such things as how long their games last, when they choose to arrive at the ballpark, how much they practice or condition to stay in shape, and how many promotional or charitable appearances they make.”
The notion that a player’s time on the job can’t be tracked is absolute trash. We live in an age where anyone can broadcast on social media that they have signed in or out of the hotel they like to stay on a business trip, or the place they like to eat or go to worship, or the bar they go to drink or sometimes the place they go to legally score dank, sticky weed, (depending on the jurisdiction). ANYONE. The idea that MLB, which can take the time to track down a guy who GIFs the game he loves to 3500 dedicated baseball fans who just want to see a clip of something they’re probably watching anyway, the idea that this organization claims it can’t keep track of its players time on and off the job, is either a lie or The Dumbest Thing Anyone Has Ever Thought And Then Put In Writing. Sorry “Minor League clubs could not afford these massive player costs.” You got got.
And even if it were difficult, or even if it were impossible, to accurately track your Own. Employees’. Hours. – I have a suggestion: estimate. Take a representative sample of players and properly track them for a full year, regular season and off-season. Pay them a salary commensurate with the minimum wage for the states and localities where they work, including overtime pay for the number of weeks where the estimate says they would work more than 40 hours. And hey, if you don’t want to pay overtime, there is a mechanism – just pay your employees the new Labor Department Standard OT exempt minimum of $47,476 per year! For 7500 players, that’s roughly $350M a year.
Hmm…feels like we’ve seen a “$” and a “3” and a “5” in that order somewhere recently…
Oh, I remember; it’s from the valuation of the 1/3 share of MLB Advanced Media that Disney is reportedly buying – $3.5 Billion. MLB literally made enough money Thursday to pay for a decade of minor league service! I think, MLB, we may have stumbled right into a solution. I know you can’t announce it until this Disney Deal is done, but let me be the first to congratulate you on coming to your senses:
good job by
#MLB to sign all their future superstars (and their teammates) to a 10-year contract extension