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It Is So Hard Being a Billionaire Baseball Team Owner

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Well, this truly justifies the impoverishment of minor league baseball players.

Yes, clearly the horror of paperwork, something billionaires could not possibly afford to pay $50,000 a year to a secretary to take care of, is a great reason to make your employees’ lives terrible.

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    “Save America’s Pastime Act”

    (rolls eyes)

    have they always named bills or is that like a lot of things mid-late 20th century marketing people got hold of and somehow made both evil and inane at the same time?

    • It’s a recent thing.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        somehow I associate it with Reagan

        I don’t know if the insulting thing is that we need to have the laws marketed to us or that they *think* we do

        • It’s about right in that era, but I don’t really know anything about when exactly this started. Or for what bills. Would be interesting to find out.

          • tsam

            articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/19/nation/la-na-0620-titles-20110620

            This article isn’t especially informative but has some interesting points on the subject. Seems like around the Reagan era that they started naming bills the opposite of what they are, like Religious Freedom Act and Patriot Act.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Then there is the renaming of the War Dept. to the Defense Dept.

            • so-in-so

              Someone finally read that yellowed copy of “1984”, and thought it contained good ideas.

              • mikeSchilling

                Irritating pedantry alert: The DoD was created in 1947, while 1984 was published in 1949.

                Farley bait: the same act that created the DoD created the USAF.

                • rea

                  I think it goes back to FDR–National Recovery Act, Social Security, or Lend/Lease, for examples.

            • UserGoogol

              The War Department was just the Army. The Department of Defense was formed by merging together the Department of War and the Department of the Navy.

              And anyway, I don’t really think it’s that Orwellian. The use of the military has never been particularly limited to wartime. Department of Defense is euphemistic compared to Department of Military or whatever, but it’s no different from calling the Department of Justice that instead of the Department of Criminal Investigation. Picking a word which focuses on the nicer side of the department’s mission is not particularly new.

        • N__B

          I associate with the first Iraq War.

          Operation Desert Shield

          Operation Desert Storm

          Operation Desert Menu

        • DAS

          Since those names are marketing, can we sue for false advertising?

    • Linnaeus

      Yeah, I really wish we’d go back to the naming convention of [Boring Brief Description of Topic of this Bill] Act of [Year]

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        yeah, I know it sounds like the next step is for me to go outside and yell at the clouds or some kids on the lawn, but christ MLB does not need to be “saved” from anything least of all the damn minimum wage

        • tsam

          Actually, they could use saving from fart knockers like John McCain, hauling players in front of Congress over PEDs. Otherwise, pay your players and support staff you fucking dirtbags..

        • mikeSchilling

          There is the designated hitter rule.

          • tsam

            ASHES AND SACK CLOTH FOR YOU NOW

    • N__B

      “Save America’s Pastime Act”

      I did not realize that drunken text-messaging was in danger.

      • tsam

        More and more people are crashing their cars because of it. Soon they’ll be extinct.

  • Brett

    How come they’re not unionized, like the major league players?

    • Good question. I imagine that’s an extremely hard sector to organize. No permanence at all. But I don’t know anything about any history to do so.

      • Peterr

        Given the heavy geographic presence of minor league teams in the right-to-work south, that adds to the problems.

        Then there’s the implicit pressure, likely delivered in a “welcome to professional baseball” speech to the newbies from an assistant coach, or maybe a scout . . . “OK, one of these days Coach is gonna get a call, asking him to send one of you guys up the next rung of the minor league ladder. You guys are pretty close, so he’s got to look at more than RBIs and how hot your glove is. Let me be blunt: if things are close, he’s not going to promote a ‘troublemaker’. Get my drift?”

        • I definitely believe the latter. Not sure about the former or even how labor law really works in a situation like that (what does MLB do here?) but maybe that’s part of it too.

          • Peterr

            If nothing else, the social attitude of the right-to-work states will increase the power of the implicit pressure of the heart-to-heart chat with the assistant coach, and generally make organizing that much harder to do.

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Pretty low bargaining power. Few people know the players and the attraction of attending a minor league game isn’t quite the same thing as a major league game. To some extent, the owners could replace players and simply go ahead as before. That doesn’t work at major league level, especially because the big money sources – tv, cable and advertisers – would balk. That again doesn’t come into play in minor leagues.

        • True, but really no different than graduate students. Pretty similar labor forces.

          • Richard Hershberger

            Wildly divergent interests. Minor leaguers consist of a small number of prospects and a large number of place fillers. The line between the two is porous. Prospects can gradually fade into place filler status, while (less often) a guy you thought was a place filler surprises you. But generally speaking, everyone knows who are the prospects and who aren’t. As high as high-A, a typical team has one guy on it who will go on to have a legit major league career. The other 24 guys are there to give him a team to play on.

            These two groups have very different situations. The prospects usually, though not always, got significant signing bonuses. So while their salaries are pathetic, they aren’t actually hurting. And at the same time, the prospects have, well, prospects. They have a reasonable shot at making the big leagues, at which point even league minimum salary is non-pathetic, and if they can stay in the game this will only get better as they hit arbitration eligibility, or even free agency: the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So they can look at the system and conclude that it isn’t screwing them over. They might be wrong about this, but the potential rewards are real.

            It is the non-prospects who would benefit most from a union, but least likely to get it. The nature of the non-prospect is that he is fungible. Why does the team keep a guy on the roster if they don’t think he will ever make the bigs? Because they need a plausible minor leaguer in every roster slot, and they don’t have a genuine prospect to replace this guy. They will release him when he gets a little older in order to keep the players moving through the pipeline. Look at the birth dates of a minor league team. Most of them fall into a pretty clear age cohort, with pitchers slightly different from fielders. There might be a Crash Davis type on the roster as well, but probably only one.

            The thing is, these non-prospects are all entirely replaceable. There need not even be a drop in quality of play. A club could release all 22 non-prospects on its AA affiliate and replace them overnight with 22 guys who had competently played AA ball the year before but had been released as they aged out.

            I don’t see any potential for minor leaguers to organize on their own. It would have to be a project of the MLBPA. A large part of the genius of the MLBPA is that it realized early on that it was in its interests to protect the rights not only of the star players, but of the journeyman. This goes a long ways toward explaining why MLB never succeeded in breaking the union, the way the NFL did. But I don’t see any reason to believe that the union’s interests extend to organizing all those non-prospect minor leaguers. It would essentially be an act of ideology rather than interest. This seems unlikely to happen.

            • No Longer Middle Aged Man

              Terrific explanation, it was the point I was trying to make.

              One caveat though where I think Loomis’s comparison to graduate students is spot on. You write It would essentially be an act of ideology rather than interest with respect to major league players. The relationship between faculty and grad students is somewhat similar. Some faculty are very supportive of grad student organizing, but even some active faculty members of my AAUP chapter oppose it because of how it can limit their use (exploitation) of grad students, the extra expenses it puts on research budgets, and the fact that sometimes it makes it les expensive to employ an adjunct to teach a class than a grad student who really could use the practice (and the money)

              • Richard Hershberger

                I could be wrong about this, but my sense is that graduate students don’t have this clear division between prospects and non-prospects. Or to the extent that it does, it doesn’t have the transparency. Would a grad student in the geology department have any notion of which physics grad students are hot stuff? With minor league baseball, anyone can look up the stats.

                • I don’t think you’re wrong about this, surely in the inter-departmental case and often (not always) in the intra-departmental case (there, I think everyone is likely to always have a more informed sense of that division, but a sense that can often turn out to be wrong…in either direction).

                • mikeSchilling

                  In the geology department, the distinction is between prospectors and non-prospectors.

              • mikeSchilling

                Most college faculty approve of unions in general, and for some that extends to graduate students. Most MLB players have no regard for any union but their own. I can’t think of even one who supported the umpire’s union.

  • Joe Bob the III

    Pay the players at least $47,476, the minimum salary for exempt employees and voila, tracking hours and work tasks is dramatically simplified.

    • You and your ideas.

    • CharlesRiver

      You make a good point, unlike the original post.

      There really would be a problem in deciding what constitutes hours worked, overtime etc.
      The original post just takes the opportunity to take a generic cheap shot.

      Not clear that they should be paid for more than about 1/2 a year. Federal minimum wage times 1000 hours would be an absolute minimum.
      I could easily see how a higher minimum could be justified.

      Are the lowest minors somehow similar to an internship or trainee?

      This is not a simple issue.

      • You make a good point, unlike the original post.

        Here’s an idea. Go fuck yourself.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        even in the lowest minors a player shouldn’t be considered an intern or a trainee. they’re professionals, end of story

        • Peterr

          Oh, but (in the eyes of ownership) in the lowest minors there are ALWAYS more warm bodies who are sure that they are the Next Big Thing, and they will be happy to take the place of any commie-union troublemakers.

      • Juicy_Joel

        Federal minimum wage times 1000 hours would be an absolute minimum.

        You really think those guys deserve a whole $7,250 (pre-tax) a year? They’re just playing a game!

      • Heron

        Considering that they’ve already figured this stuff out for the majors, yeah; I kinda think it is a simple issue.

      • randy khan

        I wonder if you know anything about how baseball works.

        First, the actual work period for most minor leaguers starts in February and ends in September – more than six months. A good number of them also play in fall leagues or instructional leagues that go on after the season.

        Second, for minor leaguers, working hours are pretty long during the season because of travel and other team-related obligations. It’s not unusual for players to get to the field at 1:00 or earlier for a 7:00 p.m. game.

        Third, you essentially work every day from the beginning of spring training to the end of the season. There are days off about every two weeks, give or take.

        So the 1,000 hour estimate is pretty far off.

        And right now the current minimum salary for low A players is $1,300 a month, which is paid only during the season (that is, not during spring training). Call the total for a season somewhere between $6,500 and $7,000.

    • bernard

      That sounds simple and clear enough.

      There are about 6000 minor league players. So you are talking about $300 million/year, or $10 million per team.

      It seems reasonable to say that signing bonuses count towards that, as does pay for time spent on major league rosters. (I think that’s about $2000/day, so September call-ups would be covered automatically).

    • efgoldman

      Pay the players at least $47,476

      For players between 18-23, pay them the average value of a full athletic scholarship in the SEC.

  • Peterr

    The horror of paperwork and imposed administrative requirements is what leads billionaires to file the US 1040A rather than from filing the dreaded US 1040 with dozens of schedules and attached forms and keeping all the underlying documentation to justify every number on every line of every form.

    “Sure, all those schedules and attachments and all that documentation will save me millions, but I won’t go there. It’s really not about the money, so much as the burden that would be imposed. It’s the anti-paperwork principle of the thing!”

    Or, you know, not.

  • Fighting Words

    What is it about sports franchise owners being major league a-holes? You would think that paying your minor leaguers well would be beneficial and have a good return on investment.

    On a side note, Go Giants!!!

    • Nobdy

      In addition to being rich (which will bring out the asshole in most people) they often are immature (they pay a huge premium to own a team that plays a children’s game) and they are used to “owning” players and trading them etc… which does not engender seeing their employees as humans, especially when said employees are often only around for a few years.

      And oh the entitlement.

      • wengler

        This is a bit pedantic but it gets brought up a lot so I’ll address it. Baseball, and in fact most other professional sports, didn’t originate as children’s games. Baseball in the US was a gentleman’s game before it became professionalized and prone to massive labor unrest before it became monopolized.

        As the kids stopped having to work they had more time to play games like baseball.

        • Richard Hershberger

          This is a complicated topic, and right in my wheelhouse. Professional baseball arose in the immediate post-Civil War years within an existing structure of competitive amateur clubs. I wouldn’t call them “gentlemen’s” clubs, if only because the concept of a “gentleman” as understood at the time doesn’t really fit American culture. Also, the membership of some of those clubs was clearly working class, albeit the upper end of skilled labor. This community of competitive amateur clubs arose in the mid-1850s, with a handful of earlier outliers.

          The original model of a baseball club was a bunch of young urban men in sedentary occupations joining to take their exercise together in a socially congenial setting. This all ties in with rising urbanization and the ideology of Muscular Christianity. The earlier dogma had been that a manly man divided his time between work and prayer: ora et labora. Games were not entirely out of bounds, but taking them seriously was. It would be like that guy at the picnic who really really cares about winning the potato sack race, and practiced for months ahead of time. But with increasing urbanization, people worried about the pale countenances and flaccid muscles of young clerks. Muscular Christianity propounded the idea that healthy exercise was necessary to going forth and spreading the Gospel. In practice, it gave adults permission to play organized sports without being laughed at.

          Going back further, adults did play pre-modern baseball, but in America this tended to be only in specific narrow contexts. The vast majority of baseball was played by boys as a schoolyard game. For adult play you have to look to holidays such as July 4 or, in New England, election day or fast day. Also occasionally at community functions such as barn raisings. But that is about it. And again: taking this as a serious competitive activity would have seemed absurd.

          So while it was never strictly true to characterize baseball as a children’s game, and it hasn’t been accurate at all since 1850 or so, the idea that it is a children’s game isn’t entirely baseless.

          • the idea that it is a children’s game isn’t entirely baseless.

            I see what you did there.

            • Richard Hershberger

              Sadly, this was accidental. Or in the alternative, I am so naturally witty that it comes without my even realizing it.

        • JL

          Aside from history, isn’t it pretty demeaning to the players, whose side we are ostensibly on, to reduce their job to “play[ing] a children’s game”? They’re entertainers. Lots of people get lots of joy from watching them and following what they’re doing. Isn’t the “playing a children’s game” line usually used to justify opposing their labor rights, by trivializing their work?

    • Mellano

      Yeah, this. It’s telling that Manfred is falling back on the “too much to keep track of” argument. MLB has multiple cameras tracking every measurable aspect of balls hit and pitched. They can use pitch RPMs for scouting, but can’t tell when players are clocking in and out?

      Based on Manfred’s quote alone, I’d expect offseason minutes in the cage, extra gym hours, etc, are already treated as basic data recorded by every team. And held against “lazy” players by owners.

      • JDM

        These guys’ smarts – what they have of them – are very selective. It’s like how Amazon can calculate shipping based on different weights and multiple options, and even change an item’s price several times a week, but figuring out sales tax is beyond them.

    • osceola

      For ALL of the franchise owners, it’s a vanity project, and it always has been. Look up Robert F. Burk’s two books about the history of baseball.

      The first owners were New England and New York Old Money, then people in Pittsburgh and Chicago and St. Louis and elsewhere got rich in the industrialization that occurred and wanted to show off by buying sports teams.

      Same thing goes on today. The owner of the Padres is a tech billionaire, and the owner of the Royals was a CEO of WalMart.

      So they made or inherited their money in other fields. Owning a sports team is a showoff move, regardless of the era.

      I did not know until this election year that Trump owned the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. Ain’t that typical (except for it being a shitty investment, and Herschel Walker being the only guy who was smart enough to get paid.)

      • Nobdy

        Actually the USFL wasn’t a terrible investment until Donald Trump basically singlehandedly destroyed it.

        It would be hilarious if the fact that he still has a 25% chance of becoming president wasn’t so terrifying.

        His WARS would be very, very, low.

        • Brett

          That article is a treasure. And of course, Trump brought his typical treatment of women to it:

          Lisa Edelstein (actress—House, M.D., Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce—and former Generals cheerleader, from The Huffington Post): I helped form a whole walkout because they were treating the cheerleaders like hookers. They were being asked to do these signings in their little uniforms in these sleazy bars all over the place, and they weren’t protected and they were feeling really unsafe and uncared for and just sort of thrown into these environments. I was never asked to do it because I was too young. [But] when they started talking about it, we all got together and formed a walkout.

          And this is just hilarious:

          The 42-day trial ended with a jury ruling in favor of the USFL. But it also concluded that the league’s dire straights were largely a result of its own doing, not the NFL’s, and so awarded the USFL damages totaling…$1. Damages in anti-trust cases are tripled, so the award grew to…$3. The USFL appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which four years later allowed the award to stand. Including interest, the NFL stroked a check to the USFL for $3.76. Ehrhart still keeps it, uncashed, inside a Memphis bank’s safety deposit box. (Ehrhart also handled a $6 million check for the league’s attorneys’ fees and allows, “I did distribute that one.”)

      • Linnaeus

        There’s a good ESPN 30 For 30 episode about the USFL and its demise. Trump does not come off well at all.

        • wengler

          For those that don’t have the time, Trump basically destroyed the USFL and the idea of spring football under the idea that the NFL would be so scared of USFL moving to the fall that they would buy out the league and turn his franchise into a NFL team.

      • Richard Hershberger

        The first owners were New England and New York Old Money, then people in Pittsburgh and Chicago and St. Louis and elsewhere got rich in the industrialization that occurred and wanted to show off by buying sports teams.

        This is, umm…, oversimplified. The very earliest professional clubs were actual clubs: a dues-paying membership, with one vote per member. This implied a certain level of wealth, but the dues typically ran in the $5 per year range, which even then wasn’t a huge amount. A new model arose in the 1870s of a joint stock company, with voting by shares rather than per capita. The price of a share varied, depending on the club, typically from $25 to $100. Normally there were many small shareholders. Often being a shareholder brought a season ticket with it (which would run about $15) so many small shareholders were enthusiasts of modest means who got cooler version of a season ticket.

        This was followed by the 1880s by a model of one or a small group of owners. In some cases this was done by consolidating holdings of existing stock, and in some cases new clubs were set up this way from the start. This usually, though not always, implied some substantial wealth, but we are talking “successful local businessman” wealth, not Cornelius Vanderbilt wealth. Baseball entered a boom cycle in the 1880s. If you timed it right and had a decent team, this could be very profitable. It wasn’t, or at least wasn’t necessarily, a vanity project.

        Looking at some individual owners, a surprising number owned breweries. (Adolphus Busch, for example, was involved in baseball at this time.) They sometimes treated the baseball club as part of their marketing budget, but this isn’t the same thing as a vanity project. Then you get guys like Al Spalding, the principal stockholder of the Chicago club, and Al Reach, half-owner of the Phillies. They were former players who leveraged their baseball income and celebrity into sporting goods manufacturing. It isn’t clear how much of their income derived from the teams they owned, but they certainly were in no way carpetbaggers.

        There were two owners in the 1880s who had serious money. Erastus Wiman is an interesting case. He bought the Mets and moved them from Manhattan to Staten Island. This made no baseball sense, but it turned out that the point was to inflate ridership in the Staten Island ferry, which he owned, to leverage a deal he had with the B & O Railroad, which planned on putting its New York passenger terminal on Staten Island. (Recall that there were no bridges or tunnels crossing the Hudson into New York City until well into the 20th century.) The Mets deal made no baseball sense, but Wiman was crazy like a fox.

        This leaves us with Henry Lucas of St. Louis. He was old money, and lots of it, as well as an enthusiast. His Maroons of 1884 (UA) and 1885-1887 (NL) could reasonably be characterized as a rich guy’s vanity project.

    • Phil Perspective

      What is it about sports franchise owners being major league a-holes? You would think that paying your minor leaguers well would be beneficial and have a good return on investment.

      Have you ever read Lords of the Realm by John Helyar? If not, you should. Sports owners, especially baseball, are often very dumb rich people, and easier to manipulate than you might think. Of course they’re still rich assholes and capable of blatant cruel stupidity that wrecks their franchise(see Art Modell and Jim Brown).

      • rea

        In Lords of the Realm, it is remarkable that the smartest, least assholish owner is George W. Bush.

        • mikeSchilling

          He was laser-focused on getting public funding for a new stadium. That’s where his personal fortune comes from.

    • Darkrose

      You would think. Especially when one of the things you constantly hear from minor leaguers is that they’re living on Taco Bell or, if they’re feeling really flush, Chipotle. The idea that they’re not paying athletes enough to eat healthy food is absolutely mindboggling.

      And Let’s Go, Giants!

      • The problem with Chipotle is that it is not very good. Although originally supportive of the general concept, I struggle to see how it is better than Taco Bell when the price is taken into consideration. In other words, the burrito place a block away from the one I go to that offers guacamole free would be better than Chipotle even if the guacamole wasn’t free, as opposed to the $26 Chipotle charges for a small squirt of avocado.

        • Breadbaker

          A lot of white baseball players were raised in suburbs and don’t have a clue about that taco truck parked next to the practice field (probably patronized by their teammates from the Caribbean or Venezuela) and find something with a national franchise name to be safe. Until they make friends with their Hispanic teammates, at least. 18 and first time away from home, generally broke, often staying with local families in Bumfuck, Oklahoma, this is comfort food.

          • My own experience in college teaching is that the single dumbest athletes are baseball players. So yeah.

          • skate

            and find something with a national franchise name to be safe

            And now you know why the tourists patronize the Olive Garden on Times Square.

        • Murc

          The problem with Chipotle is that it is not very good.

          Why you gotta turn this blog into a house of lies, Erik.

          More seriously: Chipotle is far from perfect when it comes to its labor and supply chain practices, but complaining that an industrialized, standardized franchise chain doesn’t achieve quality comparable to your local taqueria and that they actually charge money for their stuff seems… odd, coming from you.

          Chipotle charges extra for their guac because otherwise they’d be losing money on it; decent quality avocados are expensive and they have to make sure every restaurant has enough guac every day to not run out. That involves a lot of wastage if you’re making the decision that you aren’t going to make guac with old fruit. The alternatives are to eat the loss, not have guac at all, or cut their supply so that stores periodically run out of it if they have an unusually busy day.

          Pick one.

          Fast food (and lets not kid ourselves, that’s what fast-casual places are) have inherent limitations if they’re to meet the expectations people have of them. Those expectations include being able to walk in and get what they want the way they want it within five to ten minutes (and ten is pushing it; Five Guys loses business because of their wait times and they know it), made the way they want it, cheaply, with completely consistent quality every time. Fall down on any of those fronts and your customer base gets angryed up.

          This isn’t to say there isn’t room for improvement on many fronts. But that sort of undertaking is expensive, with thin margins, and something has to break somewhere. McDonalds cuts the gordian knot by offering shitty food with sub-standard ingredients and squeezing their employees. Chipotle has chosen to cut that knot by charging more for low-margin high-cost extras like guac. Taco Bell resolves it the same way McDondalds does. Qdoba resolves it by having worse ingredients than Chipotle and charging a lower price, but having a wider menu.

          I struggle to see how it is better than Taco Bell when the price is taken into consideration.

          This just seems weird. Eight bucks at Taco Bell can buy you a giant pile of food compared to a single Chipotle burrito, sure. But if nothing in that pile is something you’re actually willing to put in your mouth, it isn’t worth eight dollars to you; it is worth zero dollars.

          • Thlayli

            TL;DR:

            Fast, cheap, good — pick two.

          • Katya

            It’s much better than Taco Bell, even with price taken into consideration. At least my digestive tract thinks so.

            I recall my local Chipotle stopped serving carnitas for a couple of months because they could no longer obtain pork that met their requirements and had to find a new supplier. I cannot imagine Taco Bell ever doing anything like that.

            • mikeSchilling

              they could no longer obtain pork that met their requirements

              Not enough trichinosis?

          • sosaysyou

            Not TL;DR. Just the right length to present a well reasoned counter to Erik’s hollow posturing. Unfortunately Murc, he is unlikely to address your points about cost and relative value. All points that he would offer himself if the subject were one of his bugaboos. Granted the post is mainly about labor. But think of the lovely avocado as the minor league fruit in the guacamole condiment. Why should the avo work for free, does it not deserve dignity too?

  • Nobdy

    As we saw last night the ability to speak absolute nonsense that falls apart upon even cursory examination (or before!) is a skill that will take you far in America.

    Whenever I hear this kind of nonsense from a sports league or franchise I want to ask two questions (change the content slightly depending on sport.)

    1) Do you make more than minimum wage?

    2) Can you do anything as rare or difficult as hitting a AAA curveball?

    Eminently replaceable suits always think they deserve many times more in payment than all but the superstar athlete employees.

    We should develop a VAR for executive henchmen and make sure they’re paid in accordance with it. For many of them that would be well under minimum wage*

    *Note I don’t actually think even assholes like this should be paid under minimum wage because I AM NOT A MONSTER.

    • Peterr

      WARS – (Wins Against Replacement Suits): Measures how a given Suit’s contribution to team wins stacks up against the theoretical replacement Suit.

  • piratedan

    well there are some items that need to be accounted for…

    1) a fair number of these players do indeed sign a contract that tie them to a major league club, and some of these kids aren’t even 18 when they sign.
    2) There are some issues that come up when a large number of these players are foreign born, be they Australian, Dutch or Venezuelan. So, documentation can sometimes be a challenge in regards to getting ID and visas.
    3) Not all minor leaguers are on major league team contracts, and not all minor league teams facilities are owned by the major league franchise that is associated with them. There are independent league teams that provide opportunities to certain players that still love the sport and want to chase their big league dreams and once in a while, one of them breaks through.

    Yet, with as much money as there is out there, any franchise worth a damn has people who can and do handle these things. Manafort, as the commish, is the front man for what is essentially the cartel and who doesn’t enjoy cheap labor costs with little to no risk?

    • Vance Maverick

      Manafort is the name of a different loathsome figure recently in the public eye. This specimen is Manfred.

      • piratedan

        mea culpa, ty for the catch

    • Richard Hershberger

      Not all minor leaguers are on major league team contracts, and not all minor league teams facilities are owned by the major league franchise that is associated with them. There are independent league teams that provide opportunities to certain players that still love the sport and want to chase their big league dreams and once in a while, one of them breaks through.

      Most affiliated minor league clubs have ownership apart from the major league affiliate. The business relationships are very weird, though. An affiliated minor league club has no employees that actually play baseball.

      The independent leagues are a very interesting case. Consider the college player who was pretty good, but not good enough to get signed. He is going to have to get a real job, but not necessarily right away. Some newly minted college grads go spend a year puttering around Europe. Our hero, however, instead plays in the Frontier League for a year. Is he being exploited? Nobody gets rich by owning a Frontier League franchise. If the player thinks he can leverage playing in the Frontier League into a full professional career, somebody needs to sit him down and have a heart-to-heart. But if he regards this as the equivalent of that year in Europe, then it is a great deal.

      The problem is that we no longer have the concept of the semi-professional team. There used to be innumerable teams that played once or twice a week, rarely or never far from home, and while they brought in a little bit of money, nobody expected this to be their primary source of income. This model collapsed due to the usual suspects: television and air conditioning.

  • Breadbaker

    Some minor leaguers, on the other hand, don’t deserve much sympathy. The best line ever is the comment about which Mendoza he should be concerned about.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    This kind of evil hyper-capitalist bullshit is exactly why I went from being a pro-sports fanatic growing up to shunning all corporate sports (including the Olympics and the NCAA) as an adult. I’m a big supporter of local youth sports, especially the often shortchanged girls teams, but once profit enters into it I’m gone.

    • Murc

      I would submit that you should ask what the actual laborers involved want; for you to forego their industry altogether, as you have done, or to patronize it anyway while agitating for change.

      Assuming you have any desire to patronize it, anyway. But if you want to consume professional sports entertainment but aren’t sure if you can do so in an ethical way, your first question should always be “what does the labor producing this entertainment want?”

  • Richard Gadsden

    Just pay them minimum wage for a 168 hour week, then.

  • Matt

    “Save America’s Pastime Act”? Unless it’s “saving” baseball by nationalizing it away from the greedhead public-works welfare queens that own it currently, it doesn’t seem like it will have much success.

  • AdamPShort

    Back when i worked for an evil right-wing supercorporation (fixing computers) i would occasionally be subjected to dittohead rants about how burdensome affirmative action compliance was to businesses and i always enjoyed offering to introduce them to the person (singular) who was in charge of managing affirmative action compliance for the entire $20bn company. He was paid a nice salary, actually, but still. The idea that a bit of extra paperwork is too high a price to pay in order to address gross injustice is always attractive to those opposed to addressing injustice, but it rarely holds water.

    • rea

      Don’t such Universities usually just hire Aramark to poison all their students?

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Mistah Pink!

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