The Professional Baseball Agreement expires today

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​What’s been in the news for well over a year now has finally come to pass: the Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball has come to an end. The two sides are still discussing a new deal — there is no impasse in a one-sided negotiation — and when it’s finally signed, it will bring massive change to the structure of the minors and the teams within it.

As things stand, MiLB is going to see roughly 40 teams disaffiliated. Those clubs and their owners will have the option of going independent, with MLB paying whatever fees are required for entry into an independent league, or becoming a wood bat team for college players. MLB is, of course, also partnering with independent leagues like the Atlantic, Frontier, and Pioneer, and while it’s unclear what exactly being a “partner” league means, we see how MLB treats its current partner, MiLB: by getting rid of the implied subservience and just straight-up taking away their autonomy and shrinking them.

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The MLBPA is standing with hotel workers getting a raw deal

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Major League Baseball has once again seen teams select a hotel with an ongoing labor issue during the postseason. Over the weekend, UNITE HERE Local 11, whose members are located in southern California and Arizona, sent out a press release explaining what’s going on. The short of it is that the hotel MLB selected to host a number of MLB teams during the postseason has failed to rehire many of its most senior workers which they had let go during the earlier stages of the pandemic. Business is back, but the jobs aren’t, at least, not for those with seniority and experience.

It goes beyond just that basic framing, though. These employees weren’t furloughed, with their health insurance kept intact, until things got better. They were fully let go, their health insurance cut off during a pandemic, while neighboring hotels managed to avoid doing either of those things:

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MLB plans to experiment with fans’ safety during pandemic postseason

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​Let’s travel back in time to June 8, 2020, for a moment, shall we?

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, MLB is considering allowing local governments to decide if there will be fans at their games. In Texas, this would mean 50 percent capacity attendance, as governor Greg Abbott announced that would be allowed as of last week. This opens up the opportunity for MLB or its teams to pressure other local governments into allowing fans to attend games, which would be unsafe, but even if MLB’s hands are clean in this regard, that doesn’t make the existence of fans in the stands any safer. There is a reason these two sides are negotiating for how safe they can make a 2020 season — one that was never truly expected to include fans.

So, if this report is true, and MLB really is considering letting fans into their games in the states that are going to allow such a thing — the ones opening up before they should, the ones purposely messing with data to make the pandemic seem like less of a risk than it is, meaning the ones that are also going to be high-risk for further transmission because of a lack of precaution — then it’s even more clear than usual that MLB just cares about what kind of money they can make from 2020, and not the safety of anyone making or giving the money to them.

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How are MiLB players going to live during the offseason, mid-pandemic?

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​Minor League Baseball players have to work in the offseason. Maybe not every minor-league player — a few early draft picks might have received large enough signing bonuses to avoid that fate, and the players on 40-man rosters are making a living wage thanks to being part of the Players Association with the protections and benefits that entail. But the vast majority of the thousands upon thousands of minor leaguers are making sub-poverty level wages, and for just a few months per year. In order to pay rent, eat, and continue to be able to train for their career, these players need to find second jobs to sustain themselves.

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MLB wants to keep the expanded postseason, ruin regular season further

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Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to an expanded postseason for the shortened 2020 season, as a way to make up for the revenues lost by not airing any games for the first three months of what would have been the regular season. Now, though, MLB begins part two of their expanded postseason plan: convincing you it is not just a temporary, pandemic-related bug, but instead the kind of feature you should be hoping sticks. Here’s commissioner Rob Manfred, in the Washington Post:

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The History of Baseball Unionization: When vaudeville ended a baseball strike

Major League Baseball players had few rights before the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports in 1968. They didn’t get all of their current rights all at once, either: the battle was, and is, an ongoing one. Before the Players Association, before Marvin Miller, there were other attempts to organize baseball players against the bosses. In this series, we’ll investigate each of those attempts, and suss out what went wrong. Here’s part 1 and part 2

The Players Protective Association had a promising start when the budding American League used its desires for better wages and protections to steal players from the reigning National League, but it didn’t end up working out in the long run. That’s because the AL, like the capitalists investing in the Players League before it, ended up partnering with the NL and eliminating themselves as competition in the process.

A little less than a decade later, in 1912, the Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players of America formed, with former player Dave Fultz at the head. Fultz, like John Ward of the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, had a background in law thanks to an education at Colombia, and was a practicing lawyer at the time of the formation of the Fraternity. He also kept in close contact with active players and their concerns, and those conversations — some about their continued gripes about the reserve clause, which no one had been able to permanently get rid of to that point — helped lead to the formation of the Fraternity.

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That time the Padres nearly became San Diego’s forever

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WWE policy change reopens question of independent contractor status

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The wrestlers of World Wrestling Entertainment perform exclusively for WWE. They travel across America, Canada, and overseas to perform live television shows multiple times per week, and have a touring brand for “house” shows, non-televised performances, as well. They do this 52 weeks per year, they do not get an offseason, and the physical toll on their bodies is obvious in a way it isn’t for most other non-football sports.

And yet, WWE’s wrestlers are not full-time employees. They’re independent contractors, without access to benefits or health insurance. They are responsible for arranging and paying for their own rental cars. They don’t, except in rare circumstances, receive a meaningful cut (or any cut) of merchandising revenue that their own performances drive the sales of. They are entirely at the whims of a 75-year-old egomaniac who equates WWE with wrestling itself and vice versa, and himself with both of those things as well. Saying no or making a fuss about anything could lead to being taken off of television, being let go, or having to spend months being publicly humiliated on camera.

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MLB plans to replace MiLB teams with clubs full of unpaid players

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Major League Baseball still hasn’t unveiled what their plan is for replacing one-quarter of Minor League Baseball’s teams, but there have been enough leaks and reporting on the subject at this point that we’re still pretty clear on what’s next. Minor League Baseball teams that are being pushed out of MLB affiliations will still get to have teams of a sort, but the 1,000 players whose jobs are now on the line? They are being replaced
with a workforce that is somehow paid even less: independent players and college baseball players.

Baseball America has reported for months about how college wood bat leagues were one of the potential replacements for the disaffiliated clubs, and now ESPN is reporting, with a week to go before MLB formally proposes a plan to Minor League Baseball, that this and “encouraging” disaffiliated clubs to go independent with MLB paying the franchise fees for entry is the direction that’ll be taken:

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MLB teams can now open instructional camps, but only if they pay players

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