Better Know a Commissioner: Kenesaw Mountain Landis

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.

​Before Rob Manfred, before Bud Selig, there were lots of other aggravating, power-hungry men leading up Major League Baseball. This series exists to discuss the history of every commissioner MLB has had, with particular focus, where applicable, on their interactions and relationship with labor, the players. The rest of the series can be found through this link.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was known as the man who saved professional baseball even before he became MLB’s first commissioner. What’s curious about this is that he didn’t actually do anything to save it: he didn’t even give an actual decision on the antitrust suit he was presiding over, and yet, he got the credit, anyway.

Landis was the judge in the Federal League’s antitrust suit against Organized Baseball, way back in 1915:

Continue reading “Better Know a Commissioner: Kenesaw Mountain Landis”

MLB could pay MiLB players a living wage, and for their housing, for a relatively paltry sum

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.

I wanted to expand a bit on my latest Baseball Prospectus article, which focused on the Astros’ decision to provide furnished apartments for all of their minor-league players in 2021, to talk about just how much doing all of this would cost. Per the original report by Brittany Ghiroli, Houston went ahead with this plan due to the multiple restrictions that playing a minor-league season in the midst of a pandemic entailed, so it’s unclear if housing will still be provided for in 2022. Whether that’s the plan or not, it should be.

It just would not cost that much in the grand scheme of things for every single MLB team to provide housing for their minor-league players each season. As I wrote for BP:

Continue reading “MLB could pay MiLB players a living wage, and for their housing, for a relatively paltry sum”

The MLBPA finally filed a grievance over 2020 season length

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.

For about a year now, the threat of a significant grievance has loomed over Major League Baseball. The Players Association first brought up a potential grievance against MLB back when the league was clearly failing to negotiate the 2020 season in good faith, delaying and delaying until there was no choice but to host an even shorter pandemic-impacted campaign. Then, in late-October, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich pointed out that the grievance against MLB for not scheduling as many games as they could have was still a real possibility, that it wasn’t just a tool used to get MLB to finally come to the table with serious offers prior to the 2020 season.

And now, we have word that the grievance has indeed been filed by the Players Association, thanks to the New York Post. The union is reportedly seeking around $500 million in damages from MLB, who, as you can imagine, is countering this grievance. As Joel Sherman points out, it’s an estimate of $500 million, in part because the PA didn’t specify how many games should have been scheduled: the math works out in a way where “around $500 million” means there should have been 20-25 more on the schedule, though.

Continue reading “The MLBPA finally filed a grievance over 2020 season length”

The minor-league housing situation is even worse than realized

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

About a month ago, it was revealed that MLB teams weren’t allowing their minor-league players to spend the season living with host families. While that made sense for COVID-19 protocol purposes, teams didn’t provide any kind of financial relief to these players who relied on the host system in order to save — or, more accurately, redirect toward another need — money from their paltry paychecks. The solution, to me, was that MLB teams should be paying for MiLB player housing.

A week after that, it was revealed that some teams aren’t paying for the hotels or the meals for minor-league players at the alternate sites. The reason? Nothing said that the teams had to do that, so, some of them decided they weren’t going to spend a dime on something they were not required to.

Continue reading “The minor-league housing situation is even worse than realized”

MLB, MLBPA finally begin discussing expiring CBA

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have had their first collective bargaining meeting of 2021, according to reporting by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. He has no details on just what went down at the talks, as both sides declined to comment on them, and a lack of leaks from the MLB side — come on, you know it would be them first — means we can’t really figure out just how the first conversation went.

Passan gives a brief overview of the current situation — distrust on both sides, the players being understandably dissatisfied with both the league and the way the current, expiring collective bargaining agreement has played out — but I want to focus on one specific item he mentioned:

Continue reading “MLB, MLBPA finally begin discussing expiring CBA”

Some MLB teams aren’t paying for minor leaguers’ hotels or meals at alternate sites

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

One week ago, I published an article stating that MLB should be subsidizing the housing of minor-league baseball players, especially given how awful the salaries of those players are. I brought it up then due to a rumor that MLB wasn’t allowing families to host MiLB players during a pandemic — understandable — but also wasn’t footing the bill or arranging for housing otherwise. While that was unconfirmed, we now have word from Advocates for Minor Leaguers that there are definitely MiLB players forced to pay for their own housing, even though they’re taking part at the alternate training sites that have them basically on call for MLB duty during its second COVID protocols season.

Continue reading “Some MLB teams aren’t paying for minor leaguers’ hotels or meals at alternate sites”

MLB should be paying for MiLB player housing

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

In 2021, Minor League Baseball players will see a raise from their previous poverty-level wages to… well, higher poverty-level wages. Every level in the minors, outside of those repeating the Triple-A level, will still have a salary below the poverty line, and the ones above it will be so just barely. There are some little qualify of life changes MLB has put into place for 2021 and beyond, like getting rid of clubhouse dues so that players were no longer the ones responsible for paying a club employee, and paying for meals before and after games, but still: in the end, we’re talking about players making poverty-level wages.

Bill Thompson, who you’ve likely seen published in various baseball outlets, tweeted on Wednesday that it turns out, “MLB is not allowing host families for minor leaguers this year due to COVID. Understandable, but there’s no indication they are then footing the bill for these players to get their own housing. That means the raises they enacted will be canceled out paying for housing.”

Continue reading “MLB should be paying for MiLB player housing”

After Kris Bryant grievance, the Cubs still feel free to manipulate service time

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

Is what the Cubs are doing with 24-year-old second baseman Nico Hoerner service time manipulation? The most important answer is neither yes nor is it no: it’s that it doesn’t matter as much as it should, thanks to the Cubs themselves.

This isn’t the same as saying it’s not worth pointing out that what the Cubs are doing is service time manipulation. It’s that we still don’t have a definitive answer on what service time manipulation is, even though it sure felt like we were going to know well before this time last spring. The Cubs won Kris Bryant’s service time manipulation grievance last February, and that, in essence, was that for a while in terms of the players’ side being able to successfully point out that clubs were trying to get away with something as far as service time is concerned. As I wrote at the time the grievance was being arbitrated, the implications went far beyond just the state of Bryant’s tenure with the Cubs:

Continue reading “After Kris Bryant grievance, the Cubs still feel free to manipulate service time”

Mailbag: Is it currently ethical to attend MLB or MiLB games?

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

The MLB season is starting soon, and around a month later, we’ll also get the start of the Minor League Baseball season, the first since 2019… and the first under its new, shrunken format. MLB’s hostile takeover of MiLB brought a mailbag question to my inbox, so that’s what we’re going to tackle today.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Is it currently ethical to attend MLB or MiLB games?”

The rare, true “it’s not service time manipulation” moment

This article is free for anyone to read, but please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber to allow me to keep writing posts like this one.​

Bobby Witt Jr. spent most of spring training exciting Royals’ fans, but he was optioned to minor-league camp earlier this week all the same. Usually, this situation would call for a look at whether a player’s service time is being manipulated or not, but this situation looks a lot more like that of Chris Paddack and the Padres a couple of seasons back than it does, say, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays from the same-ish time period.

Continue reading “The rare, true “it’s not service time manipulation” moment”