Hall voting is tough, but not as tough as Bill Conlin makes it

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You know how every few years you have to go to the DMV to renew your driver’s license? They check your vision and take a new photo and make sure your stats are up to date?

I’ve always thought that at a certain age – much older than my own, of course – you should also have to re-take the driver’s test to make sure you are still fit to operate a motor vehicle. After reading this story, I think the same idea should be employed for Hall of Fame voters. (Jay Mariotti might flunk the test on purpose, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

Take it away, Bill Conlin:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

I agree that it’s a bizarre process and could probably use an overhaul. Thank you, Bill, for making everything clear and sensible. You vote for Raines, then stop when not enough other people do. Now you’re back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) Way to stick to your guns.

Speaking of being on the wagon, I, like many of our readers, like beer. If I’m out with some people and no one is drinking beer, I might have one anyway. The fact that the people around me don’t like beer doesn’t change my feeling about beer at all, and I am still going to vote to induct said alcohol into my belly. But maybe that’s just me.

In an earlier column, Conlin wrote that he voted for Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez and Andre Dawson. That’s six players. Remember that voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players, and Conlin likes Tim Raines. So why not make Raines No. 7 on your ballot?

You can only vote for a maximum of 10 players. I checked six names on my ballot and have never voted for more than six.

*Author momentarily blacks out.*

OK, so you can’t vote for Raines until you have an opening amongst your self-imposed limit of six choices, even though the rules say you can pick 10. Furthermore, you don’t think Raines can crack a top six that includes Jack Morris and Fred McGriff. I guess thinking Raines isn’t more deserving than Morris and McGriff is your opinion, and that’s fine. But remember, you like Raines and you can pick seven.

Let’s revisit the beer analogy. Remember that I like beer? I usually buy a six-pack when I’m at the store. But let’s say the store has a deal: Buy one six-pack, get a second free. Am I going to buy one six-pack, then just leave the second on the shelf? Am I going to take the second six-pack and pour it down the sink? No, because I like beer – even more than I like Tim Raines – and the store’s rules say I can have the second one for free. I am going to vote for more beer, because I can.

Voting for the Hall of Fame is a difficult process, I’m sure, but don’t make it tougher than it has to be. If you like Raines, vote for him. If you don’t like him, leave the box unchecked. And while you’re at it, you might think about not answering your phone. The DMV might call, asking for your license back.

(Huge thanks to UmpBump)

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.