The minor-league housing situation is even worse than realized

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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.

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Jeff Bridich is gone, but does that mean anything for the Rockies?

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Longtime Rockies’ general manager Jeff Bridich resigned from the position on Monday, less than a month into the 2021 regular season. His exit was a “mutual decision” with Rockies’ higher ups, meaning they told him he was fired but could bow out on his own instead of getting tossed out. Rockies’ owner Dick Monfort finally tiring of Bridich and telling him to go doesn’t mean that there is a major change coming to the organization, of course. Bridich acted the way he did for years because Monfort wanted him to: it is entirely possible that Monfort just needed someone new as general manager so they can restart this whole cycle.

You might remember this line of reasoning from when the Pirates parted with their own longtime GM, Neal Huntington, and their team president, Frank Coonnelly, after the 2019 season. Here’s me on that:

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On that Super League nonsense

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not completely learned in the ways of men’s soccer’s worldwide economics. I know enough to know, however, that the system that is in place — in Europe, not in the United States’ MLS version of the game — does a better job of promoting competition than an American league like Major League Baseball does. There is a reason that, over the years, you’ve seen more than one writer pine for the idea of relegation in American sport leagues, especially in one like MLB where tanking or actively not trying is so rampant: the threat of being demoted to a lesser league and replaced by a team that is actually trying would provide the kind of motivation missing from the day-to-day and long-term operations of quite a few MLB teams.

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

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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.

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

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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:

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

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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.

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Round-up: NCAA disrespects women athletes, revenue sharing, minor-league pay

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Today’s newsletter is going to be a bit of a week-end round-up of topics, as there are a few things floating around in my head or that I’d like to share with y’all. So, here goes.

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Usually part of the disparity between respect paid to men’s and women’s sport is in the pay itself, but don’t worry, the amateur-filled NCAA found another way to show they care less about the women athletes in their ranks than the men. The start of March Madness brought us social media posts showing off the truth of this, and it ranged from the space the women’s basketball players had to work out, to the food they were provided, to the kinds of swag and merch available for their half of the March Madness tournament.

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Kevin Mather resigned, but the structural and cultural issues of MLB remain

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​Back when general manager Jeff Luhnow was fired by the Astros for his role in the sign-stealing scandal, I wrote a piece for Baseball Prospectus titled “Jeff Luhnow is gone. Jeff Luhnow is everywhere you look.” The idea was that, while Luhnow, physically, was no longer a part of the Astros or Major League Baseball, from an ideological point of view, his influence was spread far and wide. Getting rid of the man was not the same as getting rid of his ideas, and less than a year later, the minors shrunk and efficiency was put even more at the forefront of the league, just as Luhnow and his former acolytes had been angling for.

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It’s too late to save Minor League Baseball, but it’s not too late to punish MLB

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Major League Baseball is moving right along with their plan to disaffiliate around one-quarter of Minor League Baseball’s teams. Last week, they announced the new league names — basically placeholder descriptors before we end up with the Class-A Waffle House League or whatever — and which ones the remaining clubs now find themselves in after reorganization. No real opposition to the move exists — sure, fans of MiLB teams are furious, and some of those teams themselves are even suing, but there is no organized path to stopping MLB from doing whatever they want here.

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The MLBPA was not required to negotiate the start of the 2021 season

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As of now, the focus is on Major League Baseball and the Players Association figuring out when the 2021 season is going to begin. “Figuring out” in the sense that MLB keeps sending over proposals that the PA rejects and does not counter, because they are under no obligation to do so, anyway. Still, though, that’s where all of the energy on the relations between the two sides is at the moment, which, once the season actually does begin, will lead into the actual collective bargaining talks of 2021: the current CBA expires in December, and the two sides will need a new one in time for a 2022 season.

Not enough of MLB media seems to understand just what the league was trying to do by submitting proposals on a later start date with adjustments to pay, proposals for the expanded postseason and a universal DH and so on. The two sides were not bargaining: MLB was attempting to reopen negotiations on subjects that did not require negotiations, and if the PA started sending over counters, then that would be the same as the union agreeing that the subject was open to negotiations instead of settled. Jon Heyman is far from the only media member to tweet on the subject or bemoan the lack of cooperation from the two sides on these “negotiations,” but as he had a particular wrinkle in his messaging that stood out, he’s going to be singled out here. Just consider that this isn’t about Heyman so much as MLB media in general, though:

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