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  • Minor Leaguers Deserve Better

    I haven't written much lately. Honestly, I haven't even read much lately. Not about baseball, anyway. There just isn't much going on that I'm particularly interested in. Sure, spring training has started, but they haven't even started playing spring training games, yet, so there just isn't much going on to capture my interest.

    I'm pretty sure I'll get more interested when the Grapefruit League games get underway. I guarantee I'll be more than casually interested a month from now when I'll be actually on site at the Twins' training complex in Fort Myers.

    However, for the past couple of weeks, it's been really hard for anything baseball-related to capture my interest; difficult, but not impossible.

    The story that broke a couple of weeks ago about three former minor league ballplayers filing suit against MLB, the office of the Commissioner, Commissioner Bug Selig and the three MLB organizations that owned their rights interests me.

    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com)

    There were several stories written about the filing, but if you didn't happen to see any of them, this article from BleacherReport was one of the more thorough articles and former ballplayer (and author) Dirk Hayhurst had a pretty blunt take on the topic, as well.



    I know it's hard for some of us to even fathom how guys who have the talent to play a game we love at a professional level... who have the opportunity to live a dream that so many of us can only imagine getting to live... could possibly not only complain about their working conditions, but even have the gall to file a lawsuit over those conditions.

    It's a cliché you hear often. “I loved baseball so much, I'd have played for free.” Given that so many fans feel that way, it's pretty tough for us to empathize with these players who dare to clog our court system with a lawsuit that seemingly has little chance of success.

    But saying you would have played the game for free and actually doing it for nearly exactly that amount of compensation are two very different things.

    The attention fans play to their favorite team's minor league organization seems to grow every season. Even so, the percentage of baseball fans who give minor leaguers even a casual thought during the summer is pretty small.

    Those that do follow the minor leagues focus most of their attention on the early round draft picks and the big money international free agent signings. Those players get signing bonuses in the millions of dollars, so it would be pretty easy for us to just assume that most minor league ballplayers are pretty comfortable financially.

    But we would be wrong.

    Yes, if you're among the first 50 or so players selected in the annual first year player draft, you're likely to pocket a signing bonus upwards of a million dollars. But that's not even the full first two rounds of a draft that goes on for a total of 40 rounds.

    It's pretty safe to say that most minor league ballplayers are not concerned about who is watching over their investment portfolios. Their “portfolio” can be stashed in to the trunk or back seat of a car they hope will keep running for another year.

    Last year, the first year minor league player salary was $1,150 a month and that's only for the handful of months during the year that they're actually playing minor league baseball. That's also before taxes, before food and housing costs. A player reaching AAA might double that salary. Whoopee, huh?

    Just to be clear, it's not the local minor league organization that pays the players, it's the parent MLB organization that is responsible for minor league payrolls. In fact, some minor league clubs (including the Twins' Class A affiliate in Cedar Rapids) arrange host families for players to live with to eliminate the cost of housing during their time with the local ballclub. But not every player across the country has that option.

    The players probably should splurge on some insurance, too, because they pretty much have no protection if they happen to incur an injury that precludes them from working. Good thing their work doesn't often result in that kind of injury, right?

    Obviously, they need to get other jobs during the offseason. Of course, for some of them, there is no offseason. Their teams want them playing winter baseball somewhere. They want them to show up for offseason workouts, “fanfests” and other events. At the very least, they have to work out daily to make sure they're ready to compete for a roster spot in spring training (which, by the way, they don't get paid for, either).

    It takes a pretty understanding employer to hire a guy that has that many demands on his time and will just be leaving in a few months, anyway. But I'm sure there are plenty of those jobs available.

    “But wait,” you say. “Don't those professional baseball players have a union?”

    Yes and no. For minor leaguers, it's mostly no and they'd be better off if it was totally no.

    There is a union; the Major League Baseball Players Association. However, the MLBPA's sole use for minor leaguers appears to be to screw them over any time they can do so as a part of trade-offs to get something better for Major League players.

    See, the MLBPA limits its membership to Major League ballplayers. But, for reasons that nobody has ever been able to explain to me in any way that makes sense, the MLBPA is allowed, as part of the collective bargaining process, to negotiate the compensation and working conditions of minor league players, as well.

    Isn't that convenient?

    So, if the MLBPA can get a little bit more for the millionaires it represents by allowing teams to implement lower bonus allowances for new draft picks or control their minor leaguers an extra year before they are entitled to free agency, no problem.

    Even the drug testing program is uneven, at best. For example, once you're on a Big League roster, you can test positive for pot regularly and chances are nobody will ever know, because there are no real consequences. If you're a minor leaguer when you test positive twice, however, plan on sitting out a couple of months' worth of games... without even that meager minor league paycheck to buy those Pringles chips you have to live on.

    But if conditions are so bad, why have minor leaguers never unionized?

    The obvious reason is that minor league players all dream of being Major League players and doing anything to antagonize the people who decide which players will and won't become big leaguers is probably not a wise career move. And if players with U.S. high school and college educations fear challenging baseball's power, how likely is it that even younger men (boys, really) from impoverished regions of Latin America will do so?

    No, since even the Major League players that endured the same conditions on their way to the big leagues have long ago decided they have no interest in making life the least bit easier for the younger players coming up behind them to challenge for their jobs, there's almost no chance of minor leaguers ever benefiting from collective bargaining. The best they can hope for is for the courts to determine that they should at least not keep getting screwed over by someone else's collective bargaining.

    I'm not a labor lawyer (or a lawyer of any kind, for that matter), so I won't opine about the chances of success for the plaintiff ballplayers in the suit they've filed in a Northern California court.

    They claim teams are violating federal and state employment laws. I would imagine that players often work more than 50 hours a week and they are not paid overtime. At many minor league levels, the players are arguably being paid less than minimum wage on an hourly basis.

    Logically, I think most of us know that these players are being exploited unfairly. We know the system is wrong. But the people who would benefit from righting that wrong have no power to change things and the people who do have that power benefit the most from keeping the status quo. And unless MLB concludes it is in their own financial best interests to make changes, changes may not happen for a very long time, if ever.

    Things could be worse for these young men, though.

    What if remarkable athletes like these players got paid nothing at all? What if they weren't even allowed to accept help from host families and other fans? What if they weren't allowed to work other jobs to make ends meet?

    Those are silly questions, of course. If all of those things were true, these players wouldn't be working under the rules of minor league professional baseball.

    They'd be working under the rules of the NCAA.

    But that's another rant... and another legal matter(or matters)... for another day.

    Of course, given the rediculous NCAA restrictions college ballplayers lived under, maybe it's understandable if they think getting $5-6,000 a year to play minor league baseball is a good deal.

    It doesn't make it right, though.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Minor Leaguers Deserve Better started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 141 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      You are overstating what I said. Unless you are paying wages your opinion is really meaningless. The only opinions that are important is the employee and the employer in wage matters. All other opinions are meaningless.
      First, the law begs to differ here, as does I would imagine the federal judge who will be hearing this case. Also, statements like this one is what generated moderator action towards your posts. While most of us appreciate your desire to defend your position, you have no right to tell people that their opinions do not matter, especially since based on the position that you are taking, yours really don't matter either, as you are neither the employer or the employee in this particular situation, yet you seem quite willing to continue to give us your opinion.

      Tread lightly here, you can say what you want to say, but please do so in a respectful manner.

      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Almost all wages set in the United States are market rates. When you accept a job that is what you are worth. AS you gain experience and improve your productivity you might be worth more. Then your employer might give you a raise. If you believe that you are worth more you might look to another job. But just because you believe you are worth more does not mean you are worth more. THe market must make that judgement.
      Previously, you said that the market always pays you what you are worth. Now you are essentially saying otherwise. I've been in these shoes. Many times, you need to get that raise by finding a new job. I've had to do it, as has my wife. Wages aren't always set by market rates though (minimum wage is one example), and bypassing market rates is EXACTLY what is going on with minor leaguers. It's being done in the name of competitive balance. They don't have the rights to go look for a new job using the skills that they have, as the 30 employers have gotten together and decided that if they want to work for any of the MLB teams, they must work for the team that drafted them and receive the wage that has been set by a CBA in which they are not represented.

      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      So, I pay my employees a certain wage. That is what they are worth. If they are worth more they might attract another offer and go work for another company. I pay 100% of my employees above the minimum wage and above any proposed minimum wage(how anyone can straight face seek to raise the miniumum wage more than 40% while teenage unemployment levels are over 16% is absolute crazy economic policy). So, your opinions about what I pay or should pay my employees are completely meanignless. And, the same goes for every employer out there, including minor league baseball.
      The minimum wage argument is a bit different and if you want to start a tangent here, I suggest a thread in the Sports Bar. But the idea that anyone's opinion on this matter is meaningless is simply not true. The moment one of your employees sues you is the moment when a judge's opinion is going to be rendered in this case, and quite frankly, everyone else's opinion (minus the guys hearing the appeal) will be rendered "meaningless". But from the standpoint of this forum, everyone has a right to an opinion here, and while not everyone here has run their own business, I pretty much guarantee you that some of the people you are arguing with have. I've done the self employment thing successfully, on more than one occasion I might add. I know a bit about the extra taxes that are paid in the system. I have also hired a company to manage one other business I have, and I'm not the only one.

      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Again, if the wages were too low for minor league baseball players they would not have enough players. THen they would have to increase the wage rate to bring the numebr of employees to the required level. The fact is, minor league baseball does not have a labor shortage, and if anything, a labor surplus (they need to release players). Thus claims that they are paid too little are false.
      Again, in an unregulated system, your statement would be true. But the system is controlled by a trust. That changes the rules. The issue at hand is the law, and what the law says. In this case, the law is pretty clear.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Unless you are paying wages your opinion is really meaningless.
      Moderator's note: It's a poor decision to double on a losing bet.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      1. The shareholders set the wages of the CEO to the same extent they set the wages of the lowerest paid employees. Like I said in a previous related response, when you own your own company you can set the salaries of the janitors equal to the salary of the CEO. I DOUBT YOU WOULD though. You would pay the market wage for your managers and janitors. Nothing more, and nothing less.

      2. Your comments on education are ridiculous. We pour money into the education of the lowest class. More money per student is spent on low income areas than the highest end. THe problem is more cultural than money. The poor have very poor habits and make very poor choices. THey are burdened with children before they are ready and are more prone to drug and alchohol abuse. THese are their choices, culturally influenced.

      3, Based on the undisputed facts of the above, the only way that you can "equalize" education is to tear down the people who are successful......great policy.

      4. As far as anecdotal evidence about the liberals being hypocrites. Two words: Al Franken. The fact is that liberals are more into telling others what they should pay rather than creating jobs and paying wages themselves.
      1. Your response fails to address the fact that the owners of GM do not set the salary of the CEO, which undermines your position that such wages are set pursuant to the capitalistic principles that you espouse. In your post that I was responding to, you said: "When you own General Motors then you can make the decision to pay the janitors as much as the CEO
      I never suggested that a janitor be paid the same as the CEO. What I said was that the salary of the CEO is set by the board of directors, which is usually dominated by people who are cronies of the CEO. My point is that if the shareholders -- who are the true owners -- were allowed to vote on salaries, then I believe that CEOs would be paid less and janitors might be paid more. The system is rigged to prevent such votes, which supports my position that the rules are made by the people who have the most money.

      I am in favor of the owners/shareholders voting on the compensation of the CEO and other highly compensated managers. Are you in favor of this?

      2. It is a clear violation of TD policy to characterize another poster's ideas as "ridiculous." We have infracted and banned other posters for this, and you need to either read and follow TD policy or you will be banned from participating in these forums. Obviously, most of us believe that what you are saying is dead wrong, but we have responded respectfully. If you wish to be part of TD, you need to follow the rules. You are new here and we have given you a lot of leeway, but we are all subject to TD policy, which you should read and consider if you have not already done so.

      As for the problem being more cultural than money, there are examples of good schools being provided to various minority groups and the students learning as much as in private schools. Where I live, we spend about $10,000 per year per public school student, and the tuition at private schools is in the range of $40,000 per year. If you have any evidence to support your statement that "More money per student is spent on low income areas than the highest end.", then please share this.

      3. Are you actually denying that millions of children in the United States attend schools that you would never allow your own children to attend? No one has suggested tearing down any of the private schools that cost $40,000 or more per year. What I am suggesting is spending enough so that each child has an opportunity for a good education, even if such child has the misfortune of living in a poor area.

      4. I live in California, but I have donated to Al Franken's campaigns, because I believe that he is an intelligent man who understands what is going on and who has more courage than the average politician. My understanding is that Mr. Franken wants to create millions of jobs repairing roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, all of which are in a sorry state of disrepair. Sadly, these programs have been blocked by the Republicans in Congress. I wish that someone could provide a logical explanation for not addressing unemployment by fixing infrastructure that is indisputably deteriorating. Yes, this might cost the Koch brothers a bundle, along with me and a lot of other people who should regard themselves as blessed to be in the top income tax bracket. But if we are going to remain a world power, then we need to maintain a strong infrastructure, and my intuition tells me that the Republicans are blocking this for political reasons, because they want unemployment high so that they can use this to garner support. Where do you stand regarding creating jobs to repair our national infrastructure?
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      1. The shareholders set the wages of the CEO to the same extent they set the wages of the lowerest paid employees. Like I said in a previous related response, when you own your own company you can set the salaries of the janitors equal to the salary of the CEO. I DOUBT YOU WOULD though. You would pay the market wage for your managers and janitors. Nothing more, and nothing less.

      2. Your comments on education are ridiculous. We pour money into the education of the lowest class. More money per student is spent on low income areas than the highest end. THe problem is more cultural than money. The poor have very poor habits and make very poor choices. THey are burdened with children before they are ready and are more prone to drug and alchohol abuse. THese are their choices, culturally influenced.

      3, Based on the undisputed facts of the above, the only way that you can "equalize" education is to tear down the people who are successful......great policy.

      4. As far as anecdotal evidence about the liberals being hypocrites. Two words: Al Franken. The fact is that liberals are more into telling others what they should pay rather than creating jobs and paying wages themselves.

      I am having a real tough time reconciling your various opinions. They seem inconsistent and contradictory to me.

      “My son plays Division III college football and is an academic all conference player. He plays for free. Every player that plays athletics for a college/university should play for free too”

      “Here is another fact of economics. When you are paid for a job, you are paid EXACTLY what you are worth. IF another employer offered you more you would leave for that job”

      “When you work for an employer only two things are important. 1. What you produce and 2. what your total compensation is”

      If everyone is paid based on what they produce, why should college athletes play for free? Why are they not paid based on what they produce? Do you not believe they are working or producing value?

      If they were paid based on what they produce, why is the value of Johnny Manziel’s pay the same as the third string guard? Do star players not produce incremental sales of tickets, jerseys, concessions, etc.?

      The “pay” of a player at Harvard is actually higher than the pay of a player at Alabama (cost of school is higher at Harvard). Is the Harvard player “producing” more value?

      You have also been very vocal that if their pay was out of line they would go work elsewhere and they willingly knew the what the offer was when they accepted it, therefore they must not be underpaid. Why do so many players willingly play for profitable schools in the SEC, University of Texas, UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, etc. when they are clearly producing more economic value then they receive? Are all of these people dumb? Or is it because this is not a free market?

      I would argue this is a clear monopoly and these players have no other choice. If they wanted to pursue being a professional football player, this is the only game in town and therefore, they play for well below market value and they have to accept equal pay across positions, players that play versus those that don’t, and equal pay among profitable programs and not profitable programs. The NFL is a free market and very few of us know who the backup QB for the Patriots is. Nobody wears his jersey, and he is not making the same as Tom Brady.

      If this was a real market, the profitable NCAA schools would put the not-profitable out of business. Wal-Mart and Target would not be supporting Kmart.

      But don’t take it from me, a panel of economists from Harvard ranked the NCAA as the biggest monopoly in the world. Bigger than OPEC, bigger than Microsoft (in 2002), bigger than the post office. While this article is dated, the principles remain the same. A quick google search of “ncaa monopoly” will yield many stories, some from the press and others from academic sources identifying the NCAA as a clear monopoly. That explains the bizarre phenomenons above that defy economics.

      http://scholar.harvard.edu/barro/fil...onopoly_bw.pdf
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I am having a real tough time reconciling your various opinions. They seem inconsistent and contradictory to me.

      “My son plays Division III college football and is an academic all conference player. He plays for free. Every player that plays athletics for a college/university should play for free too”

      “Here is another fact of economics. When you are paid for a job, you are paid EXACTLY what you are worth. IF another employer offered you more you would leave for that job”

      “When you work for an employer only two things are important. 1. What you produce and 2. what your total compensation is”

      If everyone is paid based on what they produce, why should college athletes play for free? Why are they not paid based on what they produce? Do you not believe they are working or producing value?

      If they were paid based on what they produce, why is the value of Johnny Manziel’s pay the same as the third string guard? Do star players not produce incremental sales of tickets, jerseys, concessions, etc.?

      The “pay” of a player at Harvard is actually higher than the pay of a player at Alabama (cost of school is higher at Harvard). Is the Harvard player “producing” more value?

      You have also been very vocal that if their pay was out of line they would go work elsewhere and they willingly knew the what the offer was when they accepted it, therefore they must not be underpaid. Why do so many players willingly play for profitable schools in the SEC, University of Texas, UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, etc. when they are clearly producing more economic value then they receive? Are all of these people dumb? Or is it because this is not a free market?

      I would argue this is a clear monopoly and these players have no other choice. If they wanted to pursue being a professional football player, this is the only game in town and therefore, they play for well below market value and they have to accept equal pay across positions, players that play versus those that don’t, and equal pay among profitable programs and not profitable programs. The NFL is a free market and very few of us know who the backup QB for the Patriots is. Nobody wears his jersey, and he is not making the same as Tom Brady.

      If this was a real market, the profitable NCAA schools would put the not-profitable out of business. Wal-Mart and Target would not be supporting Kmart.

      But don’t take it from me, a panel of economists from Harvard ranked the NCAA as the biggest monopoly in the world. Bigger than OPEC, bigger than Microsoft (in 2002), bigger than the post office. While this article is dated, the principles remain the same. A quick google search of “ncaa monopoly” will yield many stories, some from the press and others from academic sources identifying the NCAA as a clear monopoly. That explains the bizarre phenomenons above that defy economics.

      http://scholar.harvard.edu/barro/fil...onopoly_bw.pdf
      Fantastic post.

      The problem with the NCAA and MiLB is that they are not free market institutions. Almost the exact opposite, really. And their best, they're collusion-ridden institutions who thrive on agreements to suppress player/student pay, hiding because the guise of future promise of glory. At their worst, well... Twins Daily doesn't allow the use of the words I'd choose to describe them at their worst.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Fantastic post.

      The problem with the NCAA and MiLB is that they are not free market institutions. Almost the exact opposite, really. And their best, they're collusion-ridden institutions who thrive on agreements to suppress player/student pay, hiding because the guise of future promise of glory. At their worst, well... Twins Daily doesn't allow the use of the words I'd choose to describe them at their worst.
      Thank you. The NCAA actually has players sign a contract that says they are students first, and sports is an extra-curricular activity, what a joke. Coach K and every other big basketball coach hopped on their private jet and traveled to Apple Valley High School dozens of times because they had a really good student.

      You said it best, collusion riddled institutions that suppress player pay.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      Nope.........perfect knowledge is not required. Value in economics is a subjective opinion, not objective. So, the Twins thought BJ Garbe was worthy of the 6th overall pick in the draft and a 7 figure signing bonus. They also thought that Justin Morneau was worthy of a 3rd round pick. Not perfect knowledge, but that is how the valuation of the players are given their expectations.
      I meant perfect knowledge if you want to make sure the best baseball players are incented to play baseball. The draft is a crap-shoot past the first round.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I would suggest that the real villans here aren't being identified: the major league players.

      They are the ones not allowing the minor leaguers to be at the table and a strong part of their union. As so often seems to be the case in unions, they become their only little exploitative structure with little care for those impacted.

      At the end of the day, they're the ones with the most power to change those circumstances, not the league or the owners.
      I read all seven pages and this particular point seemed the most salient to me. Evidently, the guys who went through the system don’t find a need to subsidize minor leaguers. That’s what this really comes down to in the end. It would be a redistribution of wealth. The approximate $1.5-$2M/year we are talking about would be reallocated from MLB players to minor league players. That calculates as $60-80K per player on the 25-man roster and it would appear the players do see it as an ethical dilemma.

      What it probably comes down to is that anyone taken above round 7 or 8 is not economically challenged given the signing bonus compensation. The rest are such long shots that it basically comes down to them being interns for very little pay while they hope to develop the skills that the people above them have already demonstrated.

      Having said this, it would seem to me that the major league owners could agree to a model for housing and meal provision for players. They could establish a special task force to come up with a model and implementation plan. This would be quite cost effective and sustainable long-term. I would have to think through the financial implications but it would likely be detrimental to lower revenue teams given these funds represent a larger portion of their revenues.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      Having said this, it would seem to me that the major league owners could agree to a model for housing and meal provision for players. They could establish a special task force to come up with a model and implementation plan. This would be quite cost effective and sustainable long-term. I would have to think through the financial implications but it would likely be detrimental to lower revenue teams given these funds represent a larger portion of their revenues.
      It would also likely violate their contract with the union and the major league players would probably see this as part of their piece of the pie being unfairly used. Or, more likely, used without authorization/approval by the union.

      We've turned this into another tired battle of CEO vs. working man and the reality is this is more like the powerful working man vs. the powerless working man.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      It would also likely violate their contract with the union and the major league players would probably see this as part of their piece of the pie being unfairly used. Or, more likely, used without authorization/approval by the union.
      As with many of these discussions, we don't have enough information. They seem to have plenty of freedom to invest in minor league infrastructure so my thinks was that they might be able to do this within the terms of the CBA. I am sure you are right that the players would see it as a piece of their pie.

      Housing and meals make sense in terms of cost benefit. This type of facility could be tailored for this specific use at a reasonable cost per unit. However, I think the players are simply not at all worried about the guys making their way. The low pay or "opportunity cost" is only a bad deal for the guys that don't make it. The players are not worried about those guys.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I like the idea of providing housing and meals, especially housing. With some careful planning, I believe that the teams might be able to take deductions for the housing cost without the players having to pay tax on this, on the grounds that the housing is provided for the convenience of the employer. On the other hand, there could be interesting issues when MiLB franchises are moved, such a Beloit to Cedar Rapids. Ideally there would be some mechanism for swapping the housing facilities.

      I also think that this could provide a competitive advantage in terms of building team spirit, reviewing game videos at night and providing healthy meals, whirlpools and other therapeutic benefits.

      Finally, I am still not persuaded that the current compensation falls short of minimum wage. Also, I think that it's unfair for the MLB players union to make deals on behalf of "members" who are denied the right to vote for their leaders. Why aren't these factors persuasive?
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      I like the idea of providing housing and meals, especially housing. With some careful planning, I believe that the teams might be able to take deductions for the housing cost without the players having to pay tax on this, on the grounds that the housing is provided for the convenience of the employer. On the other hand, there could be interesting issues when MiLB franchises are moved, such a Beloit to Cedar Rapids. Ideally there would be some mechanism for swapping the housing facilities.

      I also think that this could provide a competitive advantage in terms of building team spirit, reviewing game videos at night and providing healthy meals, whirlpools and other therapeutic benefits.

      Finally, I am still not persuaded that the current compensation falls short of minimum wage. Also, I think that it's unfair for the MLB players union to make deals on behalf of "members" who are denied the right to vote for their leaders. Why aren't these factors persuasive?

      I don’t see how it is feasible to include MiLB players in the players union. There are far more MiLB players. What would stop them from insisting they get the same minimum salary as a MLB player?

      Where housing is concerned, my pie in the sky idea would be for the teams to build identical housing facilities. It would be highly efficient. Only one architectual fee. Building maintenance would be more efficient. That would allow them to transfer ownership with minimal fuss or they could form an entity to own and manage all of the facilities. There are a number of things that could amke this very financially beneficial for all parties. And, players would no exactly where everything is as they move through the different stops on their way to the majors.

      I don't see minimum wage as being a viable approach to this problem. For one, when you add back the meal allowance, they have to be around or above minimum wage. Even if they were slightly below, another $100/month is not going to be that beneficial. And, if the teams really wanted to defeat that approach, all they would have to do is set the required hours of participation to be games. Practice time and facilities would be a service provided by the team for those who wished to increase their chances of being a MLB player.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Providing housing might make sense for the rookie teams situated near the spring training complexes because it could be used year-round. I would be surprised if they don't have a discount rate at a local extended stay hotel. That would be a better solution for temporary housing of players and team personnel as well as visiting teams.

      I can't see dormitory housing making sense for a married baseball player with kids. Better to just give them money and let them use it to find appropriate housing.

      NBA development league players get $13000 minimum with housing and insurance benefits. The lowest minor league hockey players get $325 a week which is a little more than rookie league baseball players.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      It would also likely violate their contract with the union and the major league players would probably see this as part of their piece of the pie being unfairly used. Or, more likely, used without authorization/approval by the union.

      We've turned this into another tired battle of CEO vs. working man and the reality is this is more like the powerful working man vs. the powerless working man.
      Yep. The problem isn't entirely on ownership here, though they certainly get some of the blame. The main problem is caused by the fact that one group of workers (MiLB players) is entirely unrepresented in bargaining while the represented group of workers (MLB players) has no vested interest in helping them.

      Give MiLB players a seat at the bargaining table and this gets fixed in a big hurry.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I don’t see how it is feasible to include MiLB players in the players union. There are far more MiLB players. What would stop them from insisting they get the same minimum salary as a MLB player?
      MiLB players don't have to be given equal representation to MLB players. They simply need a seat at the table, someone who is looking out for their interests. Currently, that person doesn't exist and a lot of problems could be fixed with minimal cost to ownership and MLB players.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      MiLB players don't have to be given equal representation to MLB players. They simply need a seat at the table, someone who is looking out for their interests. Currently, that person doesn't exist and a lot of problems could be fixed with minimal cost to ownership and MLB players.
      I might be wrong but representation does not seem like it is the barrier to something getting done in favor of the MilB players. Everyone is quite aware of the circumstances. So, their representatives can present their desire for an increase of $10K/yr per player. The players do the math and say damn, that is between $60 anmd 80K of the pie per player on the 25 man roster and it gets voted down. Am I missing something here?
    1. Mike in SD's Avatar
      Mike in SD -
      The article over at Slate ("Should we care that minor league baseball players make as little as $1100 a month?") made me think about this lawsuit again. I am conflicted. I do think they are being treated unfairly, but I also selfishly worry that I wouldn't like the consequences as a Twins fan if players did gain the ability to negotiate fairly. The best personal parallel I can draw (and it is not a very good one, granted) is from when I was a biology grad student 15 years ago. My stipend was $1000/month (and waived tuition) while working ~80h/week. In exchange for being poor and having almost no outside life for 5-7 years, ~60% of us got PhDs. Minor leaguers work hard for about the same time for a much lower chance of getting a shot at the glory/paycheck of a Major Leaguer. Another big difference is that grad students (that teach or do research) ARE part of a union (at least at most major universities). My stipend then was significantly more than those just a few years ahead of me, and stipends have more than doubled in the decade since I graduated. Although it seems unions started the trend, there are hundreds of grad schools competing for the best grad students and that competition seems to be driving it more today.

      Aside from the international signings, there is essentially no competition between teams for prospects. And MLB is doing everything in its power to squash competition for those international players as well with the current bonus limits and the push for an international draft. Giving every minor leaguer in an organization a $10K/year raise would cost about the same as their back-up MLB catcher's salary (a bit over $1M). If they continue to fight this in court, it wouldn't be too surprising if other aspects of the minor league system were found to also illegally suppress the bargaining power of players. As a fan of two small/medium-market teams, I probably wouldn't like the initial result if players had more say in where they played. I think, in time, the kinks could be worked out so that the rich franchises do not get an unfair advantage (like having 'luxury' taxes at each level).
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      I hadn't seen this thread until today. I am glad it got bumped, it was an interesting read.
      A few thoughts I have:

      1) The "minimum wage" discussion is pretty much a non issue here. Fair or not, these players are not protected by minimum wage laws. Minimum wages are for hourly workers, not contract employees. If MiLB teams start having their players punch a time clock, and sign them at an hourly rate, then minimum wage laws would kick in, but as contract players it is not an issue.

      2) I am an employer, so I guess that means I can have an opinion on this!
      Smart employers will pay their good employees more than "market wage". And its not because of morality, it is still a business decision.
      Why? Because turnover costs money. It costs a LOT of money.
      Example: I have an employee that does a good job. He knows how we operate, he knows what is expected, and I know what I can expect out of him, he is a known quantity, etc.
      Say that "market value" for an good employee with his credentials and experience is $50,000 per year. Sure, I could pay him $50,000 per year, and know that I am likely to keep him, since I am paying him essentially what the market says he is worth.
      However, much like the NFL draft, it only takes one "team" to decide they think he's worth more, and then I have lost a good employee, who knows the way we do things, and knows what is expected of him.
      I dont want to take that risk. Sure, I could replace him with what on paper is an equally qualified and experienced employee, but that is a big risk. What if things were done differently at his previous places of employment? Now I am spending money to train him to do things the way we expect it done.
      What if he has personal issues going on in his life, and I get a vastly inferior employee to the one represented in his resume? Now, not only have I spent time and money hiring, training, and compensating an employee that didn't work out, I am also likely losing productivity due to the down time in having to start the whole process over again.
      I'm sure you can figure out all of the ways that having to replace a known quantity with an unknown one can begin to cost a lot of money and productivity, so I won't list all of the reasons/examples.
      I know this does not necessarily translate to this topic, as MiLB salaries are capped, but I just thought I would refute mlhouse's opinion that employers always pay the "market rate, no more and no less".

      3) I think there is plenty of validity to the argument that nobody is forcing these guys to play baseball. There is no reason they can't quit baseball and get a different career.
      I wonder if many of you would feel as much outrage if you thought of them as independent sub contractors as opposed to "employees"?
      Do you feel the same outrage in regards to say, struggling musicians? Many of them make probably much less than even these MiLB players. But they get paid on a per gig basis, from several different employers, so there is not a single "bad guy" to get outraged at.

      4)If you are going to have the argument that, "they can afford to pay them more, so they should", then I hope you are consistent.
      Wal Mart is one of the richest companies in the world, and they pay their employees peanuts. They could easily double every employee's salary, and still make billions of dollars.
      Are you as vocal in these employee's defense as you are in defense of the MiLB players? Or do you look at them different because you don't relate to them? I.E you didn't grow up aspiring to stock shelves at a retail store?

      5) Finally, all those things said, I think it is a VERY stupid business model for the MLB to pay their future employee pool such a low wage.
      Mlhouse's argument that if the pay were too low, there wouldnt be enough MiLB players, and they would have to pay more, is actually happening, and will continue to happen, IMO.
      Participation in baseball is at an all time low. Young athletes are and will continue to choose other sports. Young baseball players with potential are and will continue to choose alternative career paths.
      Sometimes you have to be preemptive, in fact ALL successful people in business are. What is a trickle now can easily become a flood, and if you wait until after the flood to address what could have been prevented, you will LOSE in business, every time.
      I don't necessarily think wages should automatically go up across the board, but it should be uncapped, and their should be more competition.
      A large percentage of MiLB rosters are minor league filler. Guys who will never make it to the big leagues, and are only on the teams because they need enough warm bodies to fill out a roster. I don't see much incentive for teams to be required to pay those guys more, but I agree their should be more competition for the guys with legit potential, and there should be more incentive for the guys with potential to choose baseball, and to stick with it.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Good stuff, here. I get queasy when human "worth" is reduced to $$. I think Glunn dominated in #124, and Mr. Brooks's points 4 and 5 in #139 did too. Beyond that, it is likely in my best TD-infraction interest to stay the hell away from some of these comments.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      The average lifespan of a late round draft pick or minor league signee is what, two or three years at most, to show off their potential for advancement to the higher levels and even consideration for big league play. It is the equivalent of going to school, being an apprentice or an internship. You may get a scholarship (signing bonus) which allows you to live a little better over the time you are trying to make a career.

      You get a thousand a month for the time you are playing. You may make some more doing the winter ball thing. I believe players in spring training get something in regards to housing (don't the Twins have a dorm) and some foodstufs.

      And you may work 50 hours of more a week, but what else do you do. Yes, you can't play minor league ball and have a second job. The schedule doesn't permit. But you wake up (as major league players do) and can either stay home or go to the office and at the office you have the field to practice, workout facilities (some great, some only okay).

      Yes, they should get a bit more (and it slowly rises as they rise) and when you hang around the minors forever (six-year free agents) you do get a more substantial contract, if anyone wishes to hire you.

      But you do find out pretty darn early if you are going to make it in the system or not. Every year the team drafts 40-50 guys who are ready to take the jobs of the 150 that played the year before. One-third are cut adrift to battle all the other cut adrifts for a dozen or two openings that MAY happen in other minor league systems, or even keep the dream alive in the even lower paying indy leagues.

      Could the teams pay a bit more to help with incidental costs like housing and food, especially since you do have to relocate to not-knowing-until-assigned. And I dread the thought of being a player that starts at Cedar Rapids and gets promoted to Ft. Myers, and advanced to New Britain for a week, and returns to Ft. Myers and the released. Talk about living out of a trunk.

      But think about your own post high school years? I remember running off to PA in the 70's and working as a cartoonist assistant for $75 a week and food and room. I did 10 weeks in Colorado for $125 a week as an actor with room and board. Same in Ohio another summer season. I did a residency one summer in Florida for $500, staying with a family. (I will admit that all those money totals were decent for the era). But when I left any of those jobs, I had to scramble home and sack out at the parents, look for more work, and the find a palce to live for a shot period of time. Life was fun and unstable, yet it was part of the elarning process and achieving my later in life goals.

      When in college, you pay to go to work everyday, and have to pay to live in a dorm system or live cheaper (and take more food risks) on your own.

      I applaud the teams like Eliz and Cedar Rapids that have families to look after the boys of summer, that have halfway decent facilities to make work play.

      Would $500,000 plugged into payroll/room/board for the five minor league team be worth it. Hell yes. And making the EST/GCL an Academy with room/board as well as pay a joy of a place to play ball everyday, Who-Ya!

      But it is a choice to play ball at any level. It is a choice to try any number of professions when you are young, gaining experience, succeeding, but most often failing, in your dream before entering the real world, which sometimes isn't all that much more pleasant than the dream world you left behind.
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