On the proposed MLB salary floor and messaging

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

Surprised that MLB’s owners proposed a salary floor all on their own during the current collective bargaining sessions with the Players Association? I was a little taken aback, too, but as I wrote on Friday for Baseball Prospectus, just because the owners proposed a salary floor doesn’t mean they actually want one. What they do want is for you — fans, media, etc. — to believe that they do want one, and that it’s necessary. Which it is, of course, but not in the way MLB is proposing.

Continue reading “On the proposed MLB salary floor and messaging”

On trading cards, player likenesses, and the funding of the MLBPA

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

The news that MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and their three respective player unions all got together with Fanatics to completely rearrange the sports trading card world seems to have shaken that world. I’ll leave the concerns about quality control and that Fanatics hasn’t ever made cards before to those who know trading cards, but this news still presented an opportunity for me to dive into something labor-related from the past.

The history of baseball cards and the Major League Baseball Players Association is tightly interwoven. There is even an entire chapter dedicated to the business of baseball cards in the memoir of the PA’s legendary former Executive Director, Marvin Miller. And that’s because it was through baseball cards that the Players Association was initially able to fund itself and its actions — a necessity for a group set to challenge those with pockets as deep as even the owners of Miller’s day:

Continue reading “On trading cards, player likenesses, and the funding of the MLBPA”

The question isn’t ‘Can the Angels keep Ohtani?’ but ‘Will they?’

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

Buster Olney’s latest for ESPN (Insider subscription required) asks the question, “Can the Angels keep Shohei Ohtani?” with the implication from the second part of the headline “A payroll crisis looms in Los Angeles” being that the question is really “Can the Angels afford to keep Shohei Ohtani?” Yes. Yes they can. Alright, see you all next week.

OK fine let’s get into this.

Continue reading “The question isn’t ‘Can the Angels keep Ohtani?’ but ‘Will they?’”

A’s minor leaguers can’t afford to play home 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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

Back in June, I wrote about how Cardinals’ minor leaguers were struggling to pay for their hotels during home games — that they were spending more than they were making on homestands, even while staying at a discounted hotel. It certainly was not a situation unique to those Cardinals’ farmhands, just given the math involved in paying for a hotel for home games while making a salary well below the poverty line, but St. Louis’ minor leaguers were one of the first to speak out anonymously and with a team-level identifier attached.

Now, some Oakland A’s minor leaguers are saying the same thing is happening to them. Alex Schultz at the SFGATE wrote about how A’s minor leaguers playing for Single-A Stockton can’t afford to pay for a hotel during home games, even though the A’s got a bulk discount at one. The situation is the same as it was for the Cardinals’ players highlighted in June: thanks to coronavirus protocols during the pandemic, not being able to stay with host families, or stuff six of themselves into a three-bedroom apartment to rent at a severe discount, is sucking up what little pay the players usually manage to take home.

Continue reading “A’s minor leaguers can’t afford to play home games”

Round-up: All-Stars’ labor priorities, and the A’s stadium plan vote

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

The ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Players Association have not been public to this point, which should not be a huge surprise. It’s just July, and the current CBA doesn’t expire until December. Plus, we just had a whole lot of public negotiating going on before the 2020 season, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic moving negotiations ahead of schedule: the PA didn’t seem like they wanted to go public at all until MLB forced their hand there, while MLB itself probably decided to rein things in a bit given how their extremely public, pandemic-related posturing went over — as one of my dad’s favorite sayings goes — about as well as a fart in church.

So yes, things have been quiet, with the only public knowledge at this point basically being that the two sides are in fact talking things over. The 2021 All-Star Game was last week, though, which means media availability for a whole bunch of high-profile players, many of whom were asked questions about what it is they want out of a new CBA. What struck me while reading about this was the uniformity of the answers: the players aren’t discussing the actual details of CBA talks, of course, but they seem pretty unified in terms of what it is they’re looking for out of a new CBA, in a general sense.

Continue reading “Round-up: All-Stars’ labor priorities, and the A’s stadium plan vote”

Taxes are one more reason you can’t trust MLB owners crying poor

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

Once Major League Baseball’s pandemic-shortened 2020 season came to an end, the financial leaks began. MLB wanted you to know they had lost money, so much money, and that it was going to impact them in so many ways for years to come — just something to keep in mind as collective bargaining came closer to center stage, you know? You couldn’t trust MLB crying poor back in October, and you couldn’t trust it in December, either, when team sources kept leaking unbelievable figures to journalists like Bill Madden, in the hopes of convincing everyone that these folks were truly going through something because there were fewer games played and no tickets sold for the 2020 season.

As I said at the time to counter Madden’s doom and gloom:

Continue reading “Taxes are one more reason you can’t trust MLB owners crying poor”

Advocating for minor leaguers works

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

​When Advocates for Minor Leaguers formed back in early 2020, the idea was to give minor-league baseball players a voice. Fear for job security, fear of having no one in their corner, fear of retribution: all of these have kept minor leaguers silent, even in the face of horrible living conditions, working conditions, and exploitation. What Advocates for Minor Leaguers hoped to do, then, was give these players an outlet with which to share their issues with the public, anonymously if needed, and let pressure mount from there to force change to occur.

It’s been successful thus far, with issues large and larger pointed out by Advocates for Minor Leaguers across the last year-plus, the latest of which is the lack of pay for players in extended spring training. As of less than one week ago, just over one-third of the league bothered to pay players in extended spring training: that’s right, loads of minor-league players who just went through spring training unpaid but didn’t get assigned to a full-season squad are continuing to play and work daily on the diamond, but for free.

Continue reading “Advocating for minor leaguers works”

Better Know a Commissioner: Happy Chandler

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

​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.

You will never catch me saying that any commissioner of Major League Baseball is “good” without some major caveats, like “good for the owners” or “good for profits” or “good at being a monster,” but Happy Chandler certainly gets pretty close. What else can you say about a guy who served one term because he made fans and players happy, which in turn made the owners dislike him? Getting fired by the owners for not being enough like the last iron-fisted (and racist) demon of a commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, is something you can be proud to put on your résumé, really.

Continue reading “Better Know a Commissioner: Happy Chandler”

MiLB players can barely afford their hotel and meals, even after pay increase

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. Sign up to receive articles like this one in your inbox here.

​I keep seeing in random conversations on social media that it’s in bad taste, or won’t be well accepted, to continue to clamor for minor-league baseball players to receive raises right after they just received one for the 2021 season. This simply isn’t true: it’s exactly what MLB wanted to happen, sure, that everyone would feel compelled to lay off of their treatment of minor leageurs because hey, a raise, and I said as much back in 2019 when news of a 50 percent bump first appeared:

Continue reading “MiLB players can barely afford their hotel and meals, even after pay increase”

Let’s talk about Pete Alonso’s conspiracy theory

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’m not here to tell you if Pete Alonso is correct or not when he says Major League Baseball is tweaking their baseballs to manipulate market prices for impending free agents. That’s a task for someone who can speak more on the makeup of the balls and do fancier math than I’m able to. My guess is that MLB is uh, not equipped to manage something on that scale, but maybe the people running the league have just been pretending to be incompetent dipshits this whole time, to lull us all into a false sense of security and make us constantly annoyed with them and their inadequacies. Hey, it could happen.

What matters, both for our purposes and at large, is that players like Pete Alonso believe that MLB would stoop to this kind of low in order to depress the salaries of pitchers or hitters, depending on which there are more of in line to make bank on free agency in a given year. Alonso is an active player suggesting it, and he says that there are players talking about it — how many players, it’s unclear, but it’s apparently not just him. A couple of former players spoke up, with the linked video of Alonso above coming from former catcher Anthony Recker, while former infielder Will Middlebrooks says that the theory “makes sense.” Here’s Alonso, for those who don’t feel like watching a video…

Continue reading “Let’s talk about Pete Alonso’s conspiracy theory”