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Tag: "baseball"

It Is So Hard Being a Billionaire Baseball Team Owner

[ 87 ] October 5, 2016 |


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.


Living Wages for Baseball Staffers

[ 122 ] August 31, 2016 |


I enjoyed reading this profile of Boston Red Sox organist Josh Kantor, largely because he’s a player in the larger New England music scene and sat in for most of the Drive-By Truckers’ show in Providence last fall, which was super cool. However, one thing about this interview alarmed me greatly:

AVC: You’re doing 81 games a year, plus playoffs?

JK: Yeah, 81 home games, and then hopefully if were lucky there are playoff games in addition to that.

AVC: Are you full-time or are you contract? Are you paid by the Red Sox?

JK: I get paid by the Boston Red Sox. I receive an hourly wage, which is a pretty small hourly wage, but I love the work, so that’s why I keep going back.

AVC: You’re not getting Big Papi money?

JK: Oh, I’m not even getting pay-the-bills money. I work an office job, and I do a ton of freelance music work as well.

What? The Boston Red Sox, an organization raking in endless dollars, does not pay their organist, who works 81 days a year, assuming they don’t make the playoffs, anything even approaching a living wage? Do they really pay him $10 an hour or something? That is absolutely disgraceful. It’s not as if I didn’t already know that professional sports franchises owned by billionaires with gargantuan television deals and endless marketing opportunities take every penny possible from their everyday employees. They’d still be doing the same to the players if they could get away with it. But I would have figured someone as central to the team as its long-time organist would at least be getting something that looks like a living wage. But no. Not even close evidently. Call me a filthy communist if you will, but I think the Red Sox organist should be able to pay his bills on his salary.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 42

[ 48 ] July 31, 2016 |

This is the grave of A. Bartlett Giamatti.

2016-05-07 11.49.07

Giamatti was born in 1935 and became an literature professor at Yale. In 1978, he became president of Yale, serving in that role until 1986. His tenure as president was marked by a bitter strike among Yale employees and his refusal to divest Yale investments from South Africa. He left Yale in 1986 to become president of the National League and then replaced Peter Uberroth in 1988 as commissioner because of strong reputation as a unionbuster while at Yale. He is also responsible for the crazy jump in balks in 1988. Giamatti, a heavy smoker, would die of a heart attack a year later, but before he did, he made his largest contribution to the game, which was banning Pete Rose for life.

Bart Giamatti is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Save America’s Pastime–From the Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay?

[ 52 ] July 1, 2016 |


Did you know baseball evidently needs saving? From what, you might ask? Is it from sluggers using specific drugs that challenge the records of the heroes current sportswriters had when they were kids? Is it from Clayton Kershaw going on the DL? Is it from the horrors of the Yankees winning the World Series? No. Evidently baseball needs saving from the oppressive measures of the Fair Labor Standards Act. But what, you say? Major league players are millionaires! Indeed. This is about making sure that minor league players don’t receive proper compensation.

Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky introduced the “Save America’s Pastime Act” late last week. The bipartisan legislation—Bustos is a Democrat, Guthrie a Republican—proposes to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and create a specific exemption for minor league baseball players (who are not unionized) so that they are explicitly not guaranteed the minimum wage, and thus not allowed overtime pay.

Minor leaguers are professional athletes, so they’re never going to get widespread sympathy from the public, but MiLB’s wage structure is set up such that that they can barely earn a living while playing baseball. At best, they can break even. It’s tricky to conceive of sports jobs on hourly terms, since the responsibilities of a professional athlete extend so far beyond simply clocking in and out on game days, but minor league baseball players live all of the round-the-clock lifestyle of MLB players, just without getting the pay to justify it.

The bill alleges that MiLB players need their wages locked in at poverty level and that if players start getting paid at least as much as fast food workers, grassroots minor league baseball is at risk:

If the law is not clarified, the costs to support local teams would likely increase dramatically and usher in significant cuts across the league, threatening the primary pathway to the Majors and putting teams at risk.

This is bullshit. Major league owners pay the salaries of their farm teams. MiLB teams don’t need attendance revenue to pay their players, the money comes from the top. As ESPN noted, bumping every minor leaguer’s pay by $5,000 would shake out to 5 percent of Justin Verlander’s salary. MLB made $8 billion in revenue in 2013 (the number is certainly higher now). But the “Save America’s Pastime Act” isn’t about saving money, and it certainly isn’t about saving America’s pastime.

If you are asking why a Democrat like Bustos would be involved in such a horrible piece of anti-worker legislation, the answer is pretty simple. Her father in Major League Baseball’s chief lobbyist. The entire justification is completely ridiculous. Major League Baseball is going to support a minor league system because they require a minor league system to prepare players for the major leagues. The idea that teams in Missoula and Batavia are going to fold because the Yankees and Dodgers have to pay the minimum wage to the players does not hold up to even the first bit of scrutiny.

Outside of the grotesque nature of the arguments for this rather Orwellian named bill, Grant Bisbee explores just how despicable it is by thinking of the minor leaguers themselves. Basically, minor leaguers develop no job skills for the future. If they sign out of high school, they spend their traditional college-aged years learning nothing but to hit and field and pitch. If they do go to college, they probably leave after 3 years without a degree and spend their post-college years, when their friends are starting to find stable jobs and figure our careers, learning nothing but to hit and field and pitch. Most of them will never see a 40-man roster, not to mention actually playing in the major leagues. Far less will become wealthy. For most, this is a career dead-end. This bill is about making sure a 26 year old outfielder with a .700 OPS in Chattanooga doesn’t get paid if he goes to visit a nursing home in a team event, not about protecting players, the minor leagues, or baseball itself.

…Bustos has since withdrawn her support of her own bill in what Bill Shaikin calls “a flip flop monumental even by Washington standards.” Honestly, this is enough that her constituents should seek to primary her out of a job in 2018. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is doubling down and saying that minor league players aren’t really employees–they are creative class people like artists and musicians. Yeah, that makes as little sense as it sounds.

The Unluckiest Pitcher of All Time

[ 63 ] April 11, 2016 |


We are barely a week into the 2016 season but it’s good that one tradition never dies, which is the Mariners scoring no runs for Felix Hernandez. A day after dominating performance that led to yet another no-decision, David Schoenfeld claims King Felix is statistically the unluckiest pitcher of all time.

It was the 45th start where he allowed zero runs or one run and didn’t get credit for a win. That ties him with Zack Greinke for the most such starts among active pitchers. With years of inept offenses behind him — the Mariners have finished higher than 11th in runs scored just once in his tenure, back in 2007 when they ranked seventh — you wonder: Is Hernandez the unluckiest pitcher of all time? Those 45 winless games account for 13.4 percent of his career starts.

Greinke’s 45 games actually account for a slightly higher percentage of his career starts at 13.8 percent. King Felix, however, has pitched a little better in his games, throwing 317 innings with a 0.88 ERA compared to Greinke’s 288.2 innings and 0.90 ERA. Hernandez’s average Game Score is 72.5 versus Greinke’s 67.0.

How do those two compare to other bad-luck hurlers? Sticking to this one idea of “bad luck,” Sarah Langs of ESPN Stats & Information reports that over the past 100 years (getting us past most of the dead-ball era when 1-0 or 2-1 games were common), only six other pitchers have had more winless games when allowing one run or zero runs: Nolan Ryan, Tom Glavine, Don Sutton, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Tommy John. So that’s good company, with four Hall of Famers, a would-be Hall of Famer and a guy who won 288 games.

Note that fewer losses means more bad luck, since you can’t lose if you allow no runs. Hernandez and Greinke are well ahead of the others in percentage of career starts that ended with these types of no-decisions. Note that Hernandez has the highest average Game Score — to be fair, he’s pitched in an era with more strikeouts, which is part of the Game Score formula — but notice as well that only Sutton averaged more innings per start.

That’s important because one reason starters don’t get as many wins these days is they don’t pitch as deep into games. That’s not the reason Hernandez isn’t winning, however; he’s pitching deep into games and just not getting any run support.

Argue around the edges, but Felix has consistently played on terrible teams throughout what should be a Hall of Fame career. But to Murray Chass, I guess Felix isn’t providing the proper amount of leaderocity and so better to elect Jack Morris.

The Texas Rangers

[ 23 ] January 10, 2016 |


I was somewhat disappointed this season that the campaign to stop saying the nickname of the Washington Racists totally disappeared and NFL broadcasters reverted to using ethnic slurs on national television. I had real hope that the pressure would continue on Dan Snyder, terrible human, even if he no interest in listening to it. I guess buying Ari Fleischer’s services helped here or something.

Anyway, it’s worth noting that the United States’ love of memorializing its own racist history in sports nicknames goes farther than just the Washington Football Racists and the Cleveland Baseball Racists. It also extends to the Texas White Supremacist baseball franchise. Greg Grandin:

 In Texas, the rangers were established on an ad-hoc basis in the 1820s, to protect the settlers making inroads into Spanish borderlands. Soon, Mexicans and Mexican Americans replaced Native Americans as the prime target of ranger repression. For a century—from Mexico’s War for Independence from Spain in the 1820s, the Texas Rebellion, the Mexican-American War, and the upheaval caused by the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and lasted years—the borderlands witnessed all the elements that make, for a certain class, death squads necessary: concentration of wealth, military occupation, racial domination, ethnic cleansing, property dispossession, and resource extraction (the Texas legislature officially authorized the formation of four ranger divisions in 1901, the year the Spindletop oil field was discovered, setting off the Texas oil boom).

In response, the Texas Rangers: not America’s only death squad but its most celebrated, complete with its own reliquary, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

There are historians working to document the horrors of the Texas Rangers. What are those horrors?

 Texas Rangers played a key role in these atrocities. On September 28, 1915, for example, after a clash with about forty raiders near Ebenoza, Hidalgo County, the victorious Rangers took about a dozen raiders prisoner and promptly hung them, leaving their bodies in the open for months. Several weeks later, on October 19, after a dramatic attack derailed a passenger train heading north from Brownsville, Rangers detained ten ethnic Mexicans nearby, quickly hanging four and shooting four others. Cameron County sheriff W.T. Vann blamed Ranger Captain Henry Ransom for the killings. Vann took two suspected men from Ransom and placed them into his custody and likely saved their lives. Both proved to be innocent of any involvement.

This was not Ransom’s first such action: a month before, on September 24, he casually shot Jesús Bazan and Antonio Longoria as they rode by the site where a raid had occurred. Ransom left the bodies exposed, shocking Rancher Sam Lane (himself a former Ranger) and young Anglo ranch hand Roland Warnock, who helped to bury Bazán and Longoria several days later. That fall, Ransom made a habit of running ethnic Mexicans out of their homes as he patrolled the countryside. At one point he casually reported to Ranger headquarters in Austin that “I drove all the Mexicans from three ranches.”

Former Rangers were also among the worst perpetrators of violence. A.Y. Baker, a Ranger involved in disputed shootings of Mexican suspects during the previous decade, had left the Ranger Force to become Hidalgo County’s sheriff by 1915. He also developed a similar reputation for casual racial violence. Many sources named him as the instigator of the September 1915 mass hanging. Decades later, a soldier deployed by the National Guard in 1915 who stayed in the Valley recalled he witnessed Baker “killing three guys, three Mexican fellows in cold blood . . . that’s the kind of man A.Y. Baker was. He was killing Mexicans on sight.”

A large portion of the United States military was mobilized and deployed on the Texas-Mexico border because of the violence unleashed by the Plan de San Diego. Military officers became increasingly alarmed at the conduct of the Rangers and other law enforcement officers. As mass executions began, the Secretary of State telegraphed Texas governor James Ferguson to enlist his support in “quieting border conditions in the district of Brownsville” by “restraining indiscreet conduct.” This oblique reference to lynchings was soon replaced by more pointed and adamant condemnations of state officials, such as General Frederick Funston’s threat to put South Texas under martial law so as to restrain vigilantes, Rangers, and local law enforcement personnel.

After a brief resumption of a few raids in the spring of 1916, the uprising associated with the Plan de San Diego ended. But the Rangers’ involvement in subordinating ethnic Mexicans continued. In May of 1916, José Morin and Victoriano Ponce were arrested in Kingsville on suspicion of plotting a raid, and disappeared after Ranger Captain J. J. Saunders took custody of them. Thomas Hook, a local Anglo attorney, helped residents prepare a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson asking for federal intervention to safeguard their rights. Soon thereafter, Saunders pistol-whipped Hook in a courthouse hallway.

The entry of the United States into World War I brought changes to the Ranger force that heightened this kind of retaliation against the exercise of political rights by Mexican Americans. The State expanded the Ranger force, increasing the number of Rangers from seventy-three to more than one hundred and thirty. Moreover, legislation empowered the governor to appoint three “Loyalty Rangers” in each county in order to monitor anti-war activity. In South Texas, these loyalty Rangers participated in an unprecedented assault on Mexican-American voting rights. In the 1918 election, for example, Rangers reduced the number of votes cast in Alice, Texas from some three hundred in an earlier primary to only sixty-five in the general election. “The former large number of Mexicans who have voted in previous elections was conspicuous by their absence,” noted one observer. “They did not congregate at the polls, but up town they gathered in small groups and discussed among themselves this new thing of being watched by the Rangers.” Voting across south Texas plummeted when Rangers were deployed. Rangers also harassed, disarmed, and humiliated Mexican American office holders such as Cameron County Deputy Sheriff Pedro Lerma. Rangers entered Lerma’s home while he was absent, “frightened his wife and daughters to death.” Other Mexican Americans in similar positions were forcibly disarmed; one was hung by the neck twice.

A new, more brutal white supremacy had come to the border.

So why are the Texas Rangers named after these white supremacists? Well, given that it’s the team of the Dallas metroplex, these racial crimes are a feature, not a bug. Unlikely we are going to see any grassroots effort in Texas anytime soon to rename the Rangers to the Texas Executors of Innocent People or the Texas U.S. Constitution Doesn’t Apply Heres. But at the very least, we can bring awareness of just how deep America’s racist past remains intertwined with its sporting teams.

Water Hogs

[ 28 ] November 1, 2015 |


Who are the biggest water hogs in California? Well, in the Bay Area, the worst is a Chevron exec. Second is some venture capitalist. You’d expect these two types to lead. Third? Billy Beane!

Oakland A’s big cheese Billy Beane, famous for his statistical money-saving approach to assembling a baseball team, has been far less economical with his water, according to an East Bay Municipal Utility District roster that places him among the top water hogs in the East Bay.

The baseball team’s executive vice president, for whom the phrase “Moneyball” was invented, has been slopping nearly 6,000 gallons of water a day on the grounds of his Danville estate and his swimming pool, placing him third on a preliminary list of excessive water users released Friday.

The average residential customer uses about 250 gallons a day per household.

The list of 1,108 names is not complete, according to Abby Figueroa, district spokeswoman, including only about a third of the district’s residential customers — essentially those who received penalties for guzzling more than 1,000 gallons of water per day. Still, it is an indication of the huge disparity in water use among the 1.3 million customers in 35 East Bay cities that receive water from the district.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District as a whole has cut water use by 21 percent since Jan. 1.

Beane issued a statement Friday saying that it wasn’t really his fault.

“Multiple irrigation leaks and a significant pool leak were recently discovered and are in the process of being corrected,” said the man who was using 5,996 gallons a day at home while his baseball team wallowed in last place. “We are more than displeased and embarrassed by the usage and are taking immediate action.”

More on this issue in California broadly.


[ 19 ] October 9, 2015 |


This reprint of a 1977 profile of Reggie Jackson is amazing. It goes up there with the Ken Stabler profile. In fact, there should be more reprints of old sports journalism. Great stuff.

The Atlanta Stadium Mess

[ 84 ] September 22, 2015 |


From the moment the Atlanta Braves announced they were moving from their downtown stadium that is all of 20 years old to the Cobb County suburbs, I was disgusted. Choosing to base your future on the model of the Texas Rangers as opposed to the many teams that have built in the city where public transportation is at least possible said far too much about Atlanta. Turner Field is just south of downtown and you know who lives down there don’t you? That’s right, black people. That’s what a lot of this was about–white people fearing black people, which dominates so much of Atlanta-era politics and has forever, including suburbs refusing to allow MARTA to build out there because of fear that they would come.

But the political machinations and corruption that have gone into this new stadium make this whole story even more gross.

Ah, the Braves bridge. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. The concept first appeared in November of 2013, shortly after Cobb County stunned the sports world by announcing that it was luring the team out to the ‘burbs. (To keep the negotiations a secret, it later was revealed, county commission chair Tim Lee had secretly hired a lawyer with commission money without telling any of his colleagues, and then made some commission members stand outside in hallways while others met behind closed doors to evade open-meetings laws. The democratic process.) At the time, no one knew how much the bridge would cost, or exactly how it would be paid for. Those details would be worked out in due time.

Two weeks later, the Cobb County commission passed the Braves stadium deal—or most of it, anyway. Still to be negotiated was a “transportation agreement” that would spell out things like any highway ramps or, say, bridges that might need to be built to enable Braves fans to get to games. But that would happen soon, just you wait.

One year later, with construction on the stadium underway, the bridge remained on the drawing board. Cobb County officials, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “still don’t know how much the bridge will cost or how the county will pay for its half.”

This summer, things got much, much worse, as the Journal-Constitution reported that the bridge might not be ready until September 2017, five months after the stadium opens. That would leave almost an entire season where Braves fans would have to park their cars, then edge their way along the side of a eight-lane highway, underneath an overpass, to finally arrive at their seats. It’s walkable, but as one local noted in a web comment, only in the way that “the road in the game Frogger was walkable”— so probably not the sort of stroll anyone will want to attempt after nine innings and a few beers.

That brings us up to this week, when Lee finally admitted that the bridge won’t be open until at least the stadium’s second season, at the earliest. The Marietta Daily Journal, meanwhile, is reporting that the actual owners of the parking lot that the Braves plan to use—both the state authority that runs the neighboring convention center and the private owners of the office towers that sit nearby—have no interest in allowing the Braves to build a bridge at all, which could result in sad, desperate fans driving to the stadium only to sit forlornly in their cars, listening to games on the radio and wondering what life is like on the other side of I-285.

So backroom dealing, giving lip service about transportation with no actual plan to fund or implement it, and forcing taxpayers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars? All in a day’s work. At least visitors won’t have to see any black people!

The DH

[ 164 ] April 26, 2015 |


Can we please make the Designated Hitter universal? Excellent pitchers like Adam Wainwright who have no business batting getting hurt for the year while doing so is only bad for the game. Having pitchers hit is the equivalent of making kickers play a down in an NFL game because they did so in high school. The only good argument against the DH is that the league didn’t used to have it and everyone knows that the way the game was played when Boomers were growing up was the best way and that’s why players using greenies is OK but players using steroids are monsters who should be driven from the game. There is literally no down side to the DH except for those who like to watch utter incompetence in professional sports. And for that, just become a Mariners fan like me.

Baseball Executives Want to Use the War on Drugs to Avoid the Bad Contracts They Signed

[ 51 ] April 4, 2015 |

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Baltimore Orioles

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has a long history of substance abuse that nearly derailed his career. But he finally got it together. Of course, substance abuse and addiction are very difficult issues. He had a relapse over the offseason. He could have tried to avoid responsibility. Instead, he told the Angels and MLB voluntarily.

Josh Hamilton signed a 5 years-$125 million contract with the Angels before the 2013 season. This was a great contract for him but a really stupid one for the Angels. Even at the end of his time with the Rangers, Hamilton’s production was falling. He always struggled with plate discipline and the years of substance abuse probably made his skills decline a touch faster than they would have naturally. His strikeouts skyrocketed in 2012. Hamilton, when he hasn’t been hurt, has been a slightly above league average player the first two years of this contract.

The Angels wanted to suspend Hamilton for violating his substance abuse program, even though he came to them voluntarily. Yesterday, an arbitrator ruled that they could not. The response of Angels GM Jerry DiPoto and president John Carpino did not hide the team’s disappointment:

This led to sportswriters ripping the Angels as it became clear this was about saving money and using baseball’s war on drugs to bail teams out of bad contracts, not helping Hamilton. Bill Plaschke:

The team that has already given away Hamilton’s locker is now publicly kicking him to the curb. The organization known for a cuddly primate has bared its teeth and revealed its vindictiveness. This is not only about wanting to make sure Hamilton is off drugs, this is about wanting him off their payroll and out of their lives.

The Angels want Hamilton suspended so they can save the remaining $83 million on his contract, save awkwardness when he returns to a clubhouse, and basically just save themselves the hassle. They don’t care that Hamilton or his teammates are listening, they don’t care that a Southern California fan base that often winces at such intolerance is listening. They just want him gone.

This column is not a defense of the arbitrator’s ruling. The Angels are right that it was wrong. While the ruling technically adheres to baseball drug law, it goes against the spirit of the discipline required to make that law effective. Reportedly one of the factors in allowing Hamilton to avoid discipline is he reported his relapse instead of failing a drug test. That sets a dangerous precedent. So if a player thinks he just tested positive, he can get off the hook by immediately throwing himself on the mercy of the commissioner before the test results become public? That’s a gaping loophole that needs to be closed.

But the Angels should have kept their mouths closed. Why further humiliate a sick player by warning him he’s no longer welcome? Why not let him finish his rehabilitation while finding some inner peace, then leave open the possibility he could play for you again?

And the usually measured Ken Rosenthal on why everything about this case was leaked throughout the process:

Even if the arbitrator had determined that Hamilton indeed violated his program, the entire matter should have remained private, at least until the moment commissioner Rob Manfred issued his suspension. But that’s not what happened, and make no mistake — Hamilton was wronged in the process.

So, who was responsible for the leaks?

As a reporter, I know that information comes from everywhere, and not always obvious sources. The Angels, however, are the one entity that stood to benefit if Hamilton was suspended and forfeited a portion of his $23 million salary in 2015. He also is guaranteed $30 million in both 2016 and ’17, and considering his declining performance in recent seasons, the Angels surely would love to escape that obligation as well.

The initial report on Hamilton from the Los Angeles Times said he was meeting with baseball about a disciplinary issue and that the team was bracing for possible penalties. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed that Hamilton was in New York but said nothing else. A scramble then ensued to report why the meeting took place, and both and New York Daily News reported that his relapse involved cocaine.

I’m not sure the Angels acted properly in confirming Hamilton’s initial meeting in New York. And the club went public again Friday, saying in a statement, “The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he has made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans.”

This, for a player who was deemed not to have violated his treatment program.


I understand why baseball pursued the matter; if Hamilton had indeed violated the program, then it would have been only proper for the sport to enforce its policy. But baseball, too, needs to take responsibility for the way Hamilton was cornered publicly.

He deserved better as a recovering addict. He deserved better as a major leaguer. He deserved better as a human being.

Of course some sportswriters, even wanting to fight the War on Drugs from their computers, are talking about how this is really about the Angels wanting to get Hamilton help, but that’s totally absurd.

I’m curious to see if this affects the Angels with free agents going forward. This isn’t some steroid case where many players really want those players out of the game. This is a sick man who has struggled with life-threatening addiction for a long time. He deserves support from his team, not contempt. But Angels owner Arte Moreno doesn’t want to pay the money he owes Hamilton and so wants to see him suspended. That can’t make the next aging slugger or pitcher Moreno offers a bunch of money feel real great about it. I suspect agents are definitely taking note of this. And whoever was leaking this information about Hamilton to the media probably should be fined or suspended by MLB. Not that it will happen.

Lock Out the Kids!

[ 29 ] March 4, 2015 |

The refinery giant Tesoro has decided that it can’t allow youth baseball leagues to use the fields it owns next to its Martinez, California refinery. That’s because there are pickets at the plant due to the refinery strike. Oh, and also to protect the kids from the horrors of the outside agitator.

Oil giant Tesoro is locking out 600 youth baseball players from practicing on 15 fields located next to its refinery in Martinez, California. As part of a nationwide work stoppage involving some 7,000 workers, the Martinez workers have been on strike since Feb. 2, with regular pickets from the United Steelworkers and their allies protesting health and safety conditions.

“It’s for the safety of the kids and the parents and spectators that would have to cross picket lines,” Tesoro spokeswoman Patricia Deutsche explained to the local press. “We just don’t have to expose them to any negative interactions.”

In another interview, Deutsche specifically mentioned the threat of outside agitators from groups like Occupy, the California Nurses Association and Communities for a Better Environment, a group that works on environmental justice issues affecting low-income and minority communities.

These groups insist they pose no threat to children.

“This is a PR stunt,” said Nile Malloy, Northern California program director for Communities for a Better Environment. “It’s just really sad — like, really? … Everybody who protests is peaceful. They’re there to demonstrate solidarity with the workers, to protect the health and safety of the community, the climate.”

“Nurses are a threat to kids playing baseball?” said Charles Idelson, spokesman for the CNA. “How disgraceful [for Tesoro] to be blaming anybody else but themselves.”

“There’s just absolutely no way we’d picket a Little League field,” Scott told the Vallejo Times-Herald.

Tesoro spokeswoman Tina Barbee told International Business Times “there have been reports of strike-related incidents deemed to be unsafe at the gates of our refinery and in the areas near the facility’s ballfields.” But when asked for more information about the “strike-related incidents,” Barbee said she did not “have additional details to share.”

That is pretty pathetic. I guess it is an attempt to turn the community against the strike, but that is lame.

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