On concerns about MLB’s minor-league housing mandate

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MLB is going to mandate that teams provide housing for “certain” minor leaguers, news that was broken on Sunday by ESPN’s Jeff Passan and that we’ve already discussed in this space. However, as was pointed out on Monday, that’s about all we know: that piece mostly focused on the need for housing assistance and why, exactly, MLB has decided to reverse course on the issue now (the short version: they’re trying to appease players who are moving ever-closing to unionizing.) What we’ll focus on this time around, instead, is what the housing assistance should look like. It’s good to get these thoughts in order before the actual shape of things is revealed, so you already know what to look out for and be preemptively mad about.

Back in June, Beyond the Box Score’s Sheryl Ring brought up some legitimate concerns about MLB providing housing for minor-league players, having to do with landlord-tenant relationships, corporate housing, and more:

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MLB will mandate housing assistance for MiLB players in 2022

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Details remain essentially nonexistent, but we at least know this: all 30 of MLB’s teams will be mandated to provide housing for minor-league players starting with the 2022 season. No longer will it be select clubs deciding to pay out stipends or cover the full costs of housing, while others like the Cardinals and A’s plug their ears and wait for the season to end so they can stop being bothered about the horrific living conditions their players are dealing with.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news on Sunday night, and again, said news is vague. We don’t yet know if teams will be providing stipends to their players, as the San Francisco Giants have been doing for (some of) their minor-league players. We don’t know if furnished apartments are going to be provided, as has happened for Astros’ minor leaguers in 2021. We also don’t know which minor-league players are going to be provided with this assistance: all Passan was able to report at this time is that “certain” minor-league players would be provided housing.

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Maybe things are changing in the MiLB labor landscape

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It feels like we’re close to something in the Minor League Baseball labor movement, no? Maybe that’s just my optimism for a better future for those players talking, but there is a reason I’m as optimistic about it as I’ve been of late. That’s not to say I think it’s inevitable, but where in the past I’ve thought, “yes, it’s technically possible for organization and unionization in MiLB,” it’s starting to feel like it’s a thing that could actually happen at some point.

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Round-up: Athletes as workers, rediscovering America’s pastime, and the NWSL

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I’ve been pretty lax of late pointing y’all toward things I’ve been reading that I also think you should read, which was kind of the fault of a whole bunch of factors, but hey. Let’s change that up, and dedicate this whole newsletter entry to stuff I’ve been reading that I think you should read.

First up is Britni de la Cretaz and the return of Mic. Their first feature for the relaunched publication is on the fact we’re not used to seeing athletes as workers, even though they have to deal with management, even though they are not in control of capital within their own leagues, even though there are plenty of professional athletes out there who are making less money each year than some of the folks reading this right now. The topic is not only one that is close to me, but de la Cretaz spoke to me a bit about the subject, and I’m quoted in there a few times.

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The Rays two-city plan is in the news again

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I’m just going to outright say that I don’t know where this whole “Tampa Bay wants to be in Montreal, too” thing is going. Is Rays’ ownership simply trying to leverage one city against the other until their deal with Tropicana finally ends in a few years, in the hopes one will decide that they want this particular MLB team in their city full time by then? Is the idea to try to prove that St. Petersburg isn’t a fit for the Rays because they aren’t even really trying to stop them from spending half of their season in another country? Is Stuart Sternberg working for the United States government to invade Quebec with agents disguised as Floridian baseball fans, forcing Canada to secede the territory and breaking the longstanding agreement with America’s neighbor that defined the northern border of Maine centuries ago? Hey, that’s no less ridiculous than whatever else the plan might actually be, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that this is all an op.

I haven’t written about the two-city plan for a couple of years now, in part because there haven’t been any real updates, and also because what else was there to say?

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