Of course Rob Manfred ‘rejects the premise’ of minor leaguers’ reality

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Some of you still hold out hope that a better commissioner for Major League Baseball is out there, that things would be different if only someone else were in charge besides the robotic, seemingly unfeeling Rob Manfred — a commissioner so actively disliked, so cold in his approach to the game, that multiple features have been published during his tenure where he has been given a chance to say, “no, no, I love baseball, I don’t hate it, go baseball, hooray.”

Rob Manfred is nearly a perfect commissioner, though, if you recognize what the job truly is: to serve as a buffer between the owners and the public. Profits are up, outside of the pandemic-shortened season no one had any control over. Selling a team still brings back a wildly profitable return. Minority investments in teams have also been opened up a bit, which helps further those franchise values, and while attendance is down, the league is squeezing out more money per customer, and they continue to find new places willing to give them money to broadcast baseball, like with the Peacock and Apple TV deals that began in 2022. Owners love the guy, because he’s helping to make them money.

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NBA, NBPA agree to pension substitute for aging pension-less ABA players

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​There is good news for former American Basketball Association players who didn’t play long enough to qualify for an NBA pension. Thanks to the work of the Dropping Dimes Foundation, 115 former players will receive a portion of $24.5 million, as agreed to by the NBA’s board of governors. The payments will come from both the NBA and from the National Basketball Players Association, and while it isn’t a pension, it still will serve somewhat like one.

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MLB, Players Association resume bargaining over international draft

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In case you had forgotten, Major League Baseball and the Players Association, rather than settling the issue during this winter’s collective bargaining, kicked figuring out whether or not there would be an international draft down the road. The deadline for this second round of discussions is July 25, so you’re going to be seeing quite a bit about the international draft and proposals for it over the coming weeks. As things stand now, the MLBPA countered MLB’s proposal before the weekend, with a source telling The Athletic that it “called for significantly more money than the league’s proposal.”

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Senate Judiciary Committee is asking questions about MLB’s antitrust exemption

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I can’t sit here and tell you that the Senate Judiciacy Committee questioning the legality of MLB’s century-spanning antitrust exemption is going to go anywhere productive. What I do know, though, is that the lone road to removing the antitrust exemption goes through Congress, and not the Supreme Court, so this is news worth taking note of all the same.

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Minor leaguers for A’s, four others haven’t been paid for months, can’t afford to eat

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How are minor-league players that aren’t being paid to do their job supposed to be able to afford food, exactly? The A’s, Brewers, Angels, Marlins, and Reds have decided it’s simply not their problem to solve, according to Advocates for Minor Leaguers and this report from The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. Those five clubs are the ones still refusing to pay their minor leaguers in extended spring training, and the result of that is it costing these players money to work.

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Red Sox show how easy it is to properly house minor leaguers

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Part of what makes MLB’s owners refusing to do more than the bare minimum when it comes to providing housing for their minor-league players is how simple it would be to do the right thing. And inexpensive, too, as the reporting of the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier shows. The Red Sox are one of the teams actually putting together the kind of housing plan that players should have, and it has cost them all of “close to $1 million” to do it. Continue reading “Red Sox show how easy it is to properly house minor leaguers”

Advocates for Minor Leaguers released progress reports for MLB’s treatment of MiLB players

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Major League Baseball has continued giving in to the demands of Advocates for Minor Leaguers and the players they’re, well, advocating for, and it is a lovely thing to see in action. Advocacy works, it turns out, as MLB fears two things: the public being aware of the way they treat minor-league players with any more detail than they already have, and those same minor-league players finally getting together to organize into a union or unions that will get their rights in writing. So yeah, Advocates and the players are in a position to keep making noise about how things aren’t ideal yet. And the results have been excellent.

Consider this: at the end of January, Advocates for Minor Leaguers demanded, with the backing of players they spoke to on the matter, changes to MLB’s new housing policy, which was created without any input from the people it was for and would be affecting. They identified loopholes that existed to cut costs for teams and would be negatives for the players — such as throwing multiple players into bedrooms together like they were in college dorms — and stated that they would be publicly identifying the teams throughout the season that failed to make the changes the players demanded to the system.

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Reminders of the power imbalance between MLB’s teams, prospects

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Kumar Rocker has finally signed. No, not with a Major League Baseball team, but with the independent Tri-City Valley Cats. The former Vanderbilt ace had to go this route because, last summer, the Mets drafted him and then essentially refused to sign him, as they attempted to lowball him due to injury concerns and refused to actually negotiate with their first-round pick.

The Mets were able to do this knowing that they would have a second first-round pick waiting for them in the 2022 draft as compensation for not signing Kumar. So long as their offer is worth at least 40 percent of the slot value for where the player was selected, the club remains eligible for this compensation. While the initial report said that the Mets didn’t make a formal offer to Rocker at all, they’re listed as having the 11th-overall pick in the 2022 amateur entry draft, and it being marked as compensation — clearly, they did make an offer, even if it was as equivalently serious to not making one at all.

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Senne v. MLB reached settlement, but the fight goes on

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It has been years and years already, but we finally have a resolution to the class action lawsuit that former minor-league players brought against Major League Baseball. Aaron Senne et al v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp, more commonly referred to as Senne v. MLB, was filed eight years ago, picked up class action status in 2019, had that status upheld in early 2020 in the Ninth Circuit, and then, later that year, had the Supreme Court come to the same decision. Then, in March of 2022, Judge Joseph Spero, who was set to preside over the case when it went to trial in June, made some preemptive decisions about it: he declared that the suing minor-league players were, in fact, year-round employees, and were owed damages for all the time they had spent not being treated that way.

And now, the trial won’t be happening, as the two sides have reached a settlement. The terms of the settlement are actually unknown at this stage — and that’s by design — so we can’t start discussing whether the amount the players will receive is large enough or too small, if it is notable enough to inspire additional lawsuits or demands from active minor-league players, and so on. There’s still plenty to discuss, however, even without those specifics.

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There will finally be unionized professional wrestling

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WWE’s performers are in a tough spot, where they work for the largest wrestling promotion in the world and yet are signed as independent contractors, and without the protection of a union. This is how WWE can flex their muscle to bar their wrestlers from streaming on Twitch without sharing the profits with the promotion, or hold performers hostage when they are not being used for months and months at a time and want to leave the company because of it. These kinds of behaviors got the attention of SAG-AFTRA a couple of years ago, but nothing came of that, and WWE’s wrestlers, despite being both athletes and television performers, belong to a union for neither.

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