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Ah, the life of a minor-league baseball player. On Sunday night, Advocates for Minor Leaguers tweeted out that they had heard from “multiple sources” that the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ players were told they’d “be on their own” finding a roof over their head for the night, because the hotel the team usually has some players stay at had no availability. It wasn’t a small number of players, either, as the tweet continued on to say that “at least a dozen” of them were planning on spending the night in the locker room: not exactly the most comfortable environment on a normal night, never mind following a day game and a six-hour trip on a bus from the club’s road trip.
That was at 8:02 p.m. ET: at 10:44 p.m., Advocates sent out another tweet saying that, “We’ve been told that the Pelicans will now be providing housing for all of their players tonight. Advocacy works.” The whole situation is not as cut and dry as just looking at those couple of tweets suggests, though, thanks to how the team decided to handle things.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ own Twitter account posted at 10:21 p.m. that:
The rumor on social media that our players were stranded without housing is false. The team is busing home from a road trip. Every player has housing. We have always been proactive in assisting players in finding housing and will continue to support them on and off the field.
Now, I highly doubt that the “rumor” was false, given Advocates for Minor Leaguers’ multiple sources on this were likely players from the Pelicans themselves, who were hoping to spread the word that they were in trouble that night, so that the Pelicans, shamed by the public, would help the players find housing for the night. Read a little closer, too, and the Pelicans don’t actually say that they put any players up for the night or anything: it’s just that they are “proactive” about “assisting players in finding housing.” All this means is that someone working for the Pelicans, between the time Advocates for Minor Leaguers tweet started to gain traction and the time the Pelicans’ social team sent out their own response, that someone working for the Low-A club found another hotel with availability and directed the players without a place to sleep there.
It is highly unlikely they paid out of pocket for a room for these players put in a tough situation or anything, so don’t read into this as if the Pelicans did anything exceptional here. This is just playing defense using vagueness, and given how many people ended up responding to Advocates for Minor Leaguers and random folks just tweeting about the story with some form of “the Pelicans said this is all some bullshit,” well, the plan worked. At least to a degree, on some.
Rafa Nieves, a player agent, booked a room for a player in Myrtle Beach as well, and made sure to share that info and some visual proof in a few places where denials were occuring, so the Pelicans pretending there was never an issue here is pretty rich, considering. It’s not like horrid conditions and ugly situations need to be made up to spread word of the plight of minor-league players. They’re underpaid, some of them so lacking in funds because of it that they need to live out of their suitcase, splitting the cost of cheap hotel rooms multiple ways instead of even being able to rent an actual apartment with teammates.
Is it possible there was some real poor communication from the team to the players, that the players weren’t aware that the team was looking for alternatives? Maybe! But even if it was the case that the Pelicans planned to work this out for their players, that’s still pretty inconsiderate of them, to have players on a six-hour bus ride back to the team’s home city thinking they’re going to have to spend a night sleeping on a locker room floor because no one could be bothered to tell them they were working on finding a hotel with availability.
Considering the specificity of what Advocates for Minor Leaguers tweeted out, though, and that they had heard from multiple sources, I’d bet on, over just some general rudeness, the Pelicans having said, “you’re on your own” before the players going to the people willing to advocate for them did just that, shaming the team into trying to make things right. That’s far more realistic — that multiple players reached out to an advocacy org and at least one player agent to help them find a place to sleep when their team failed them — than said advocacy org and player agent straight-up making things up to make a minor-league team look bad. Advocates for Minor Leaguers is made up of former minor-league players, if you didn’t remember, ones who have spent their years since their time in the game trying to raise awareness of, and improve the situations of, players who struggle and suffer today like they did in their own careers.
It’s good that the Pelicans’ players ended up finding a place to sleep that wasn’t a locker room floor, and it’s better still that Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a group that hopes to give minor-league players the voice they otherwise do not have, had a hand in making that happen. It’s infuriating, though, to see the Pelicans use social media to try to cast this as just some “rumor,” when it doesn’t take much thought to realize that the “multiple sources” in question on this or any other messaging from a minor-league player advocacy group is going to be from the players themselves, the ones suffering whatever indignity it is they’re sharing. These are people too scared of their job security and rocking the boat to just come out and say these things themselves with their names attached to them: do you really believe that they’d create a situation where they would draw potential attention to themselves if it wasn’t absolutely necessary to do so?