The American Dream, Minor League Baseball and You

(Red Square, Moscow, Nov. 7th): “Citizens of Natstown.”  Can we tweak that website name just a bit for this article only?


Let’s whip out that plum brandy you hastily made in your bathtub because it’s time to talk about labor!

So, Minor League Baseball players want to get paid an actual, real amount of money. Why? Well, because right now they are being paid sub-minimum wage. That is not good. If you’d like to know why that isn’t good for you, the community, and the taxpayers, go to a Green Day concert I’m sure they’ll explain it.

Major League Baseball (in addition to owners at the Minor League Baseball level) are able to pay MiLB players less than minimum wage due to their classification as “seasonal” and some other fun anti-trust exemption stuff.   MiLB players argue that their work is actually year round (workouts, training, etc). This will end up going to court / Congress.

OMG this is so boring… can’t this site just go back to posting articles that for some reason list all the 2nd basemen in baseball or a weekly article saying the Nats will probably trade someone. I agree. It sucks for the players but the last thing you want to do is read an article on this site by someone (me) who is completely unqualified to talk about the specifics of labor relations. For some good articles on this check out Jessica Quiroli’s MiLB website (@heelsonthefield), the FanGraphs blog, or like, any sports website ever after you’re done here.

Can you do me a favor now though? Go ahead and take that horrifically dirty ladle, dip it in the bathtub full of brandy, take a few sips (let me get some of that too) and let’s talk about the good that you can do regarding this lawsuit— you silly working class dreamer you.

First and foremost, lots of ‘influential’ people are coming out in support of the MiLB players. This has the trickle down effect of lots of people like us (the people drinking plum brandy) supporting these influential people in their support of MiLB player’s getting a fair wage. This is a good thing as less money in the hands of the owners (who sure as hell aren’t giving it to us anyway) is a nice concept.

As this case progresses, plenty more people from all different backgrounds are going to come out in support of the MiLB players, who are (mostly) sympathetic in this case.

Now, why are just the MiLB players’ sympathetic.   Where is the sympathy for the people who work for MLB/ MiLB/ or a contracted organization that is hired by them, who are making minimum wage (or in some cases below) and are also trying to sustain a life, family, etc.?

Here is what I mean by this:

The way I see it, the only people actually with a shot of living “The American Dream” in this scenario are the players. They have an innate skill and with lots of hard work and a bit of luck can go from ‘living in parents basement in Altoona’ to ‘millionaire who owns multiple pairs of Uggs.’   This is in no way discounting the sacrifices or hardships that these MiLB players make along the way in this pursuit. What this does highlight though is that these fellas all have a shot (even if it’s remote at best) of truly living ‘The American Dream.’

Can the same be said for the person who served you that hot dog? Or what about the person in the parking lot waving in your car? Or the person who cleans the bathroom floor that you pissed on because goddamn it’s hard to pee with two beers in your hands… Or the person that has to wait in line (unpaid) outside Nats Park as they wait for security to let them all pass through so that they can pour your beer…

How about the “Intern, Groundskeeping” that is currently listed on the Nats website?

It is easy and understandable to have a rooting interest in the welfare of MiLB players. They are a byproduct and extension of the fandom you have with your team.  There is an emotional connection to them.

What I hope is not forgotten though is that there are countless amounts of people that go into making the “Baseball Experience” an enjoyable one for the consumer. This ranges from Class A ball up to the MLB (including places like MLB outlets in Australia). When you go to a stadium, it is these people who influence your ‘was this a good experience’ barometer?

Have you ever, once, heard someone say, “Man, the Lerner’s (or any owner) really made Nats Park a great experience for me and my family.”? No, it is the ‘Intern, Client Services’ who helps you print out that 4th ticket for your 5-year-old son that your moronic husband left at home after INSISTING that he had all the tickets. It is the person who will make 11K a year that busts their butt standing through an entire game getting you your beers. These are the people (including the players) that help make it a great “Baseball Experience.”

When this is all said and done I can see the owners actually listening to their PR people and giving the MiLB players a token/nominal raise. The owners will still be rich (like, a new pair of Uggs everyday rich) and the MiLB players will still essentially be poor. VICTORY!

Hopefully though, when that happens, we all don’t lose site of the cause that we are supporting right now.   We want the people in the lowest levels of baseball to have a shot at making a living wage. Let’s not forget that there are countless people who are living at the poverty line, working in baseball, and will not get this support or opportunity for their voices to be heard, ever. There is some momentum right now though, so let’s influence the influencers and work to include all these people as well.

Now, let’s finish this brandy so we can forget about all this and do it all again tomorrow. See ya at work.

(comments/questions/concerns/etc… @fitnessmcdaniel)

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