Jonathan Papelbon doesn't think Yankees-Red Sox games are too long. He's wrong.

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The Red Sox and Yankees average game times are the two longest in baseball, and when the two of them get together, forget it. Major League Baseball has asked the teams to try and move things along, but Jonathan Papelbon — asked about the issue by WEEI’s Rob Bradford — doesn’t understand why anyone thinks there’s a problem:

“Have you ever gone to watch a movie and thought, ‘Man, this movie is
so good I wish it would have never ended.’ That’s like a Red
Sox-Yankees game. Why would you want it to end?”

Asked about having to potentially watch a movie in 30-degree
temperatures, the closer offered a solution, simply saying, “Bundle up
and drink beer . . . If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there. Go home. Why are you

I’ll accept his point about bundling up and drinking beer, because that’s good advice regardless. I’ll also grant that, in the pantheon of complaints “this baseball game is too long” is not a major one. If it is really intolerable don’t watch. There’s more to life to baseball. Or so I’m told by people I don’t truly trust.

But really, just because it’s baseball doesn’t mean that we should overlook just how annoying these needlessly interminable Red Sox-Yankees games are for people who work for a living. Sure, go four hours if it’s an ugly slugfest, but there is no excuse for an otherwise clean 3-2 game to last that damn long.

As for Papelbon’s movie analogy, yes, I’d love it if the car chases, dance numbers and fight sequences in my favorite movies lasted forever, but I wouldn’t like it if my favorite movies were extended by scenes of guys looking for their car keys, tying their dancing shoes and stretching.

Which is basically what we get with these long Red Sox-Yankees games. Mound meetings, equipment adjustments, extra bullpen throws and long stares into the catcher before each pitch, often by closers like Papelbon and Mariano Rivera who only throw one damn pitch most of the time anyway.

Get in the box. Throw the pitch. Figure out your signs before the game. We’ll still love it. In fact, we’ll probably love it even more.

Congress to pass bill depriving minor leaguers of minimum wage rights

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We saw this coming and wrote about it last weekend, but now it’s official: the new spending bill from Congress contains a gift for Major League and Minor League Baseball in the form of a provision classifying minor leaguers as seasonal workers, exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. Practically speaking, this means that minor leaguers are not required to be paid minimum wage or have other basic protections to which even part-timers at fast food restaurants are entitled.

The relevant provision — buried on page 1,967 of the 2,232-page spending bill, which will get almost zero time to be read and processed by most people before it’s ultimately passed signed into law by tomorrow — is farcically entitled the “Save America’s Pastime Act.” It exempts from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 people who fit this description:

[A]ny employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the off season) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.

It may be news to you that the multi-billion baseball industry, run by a few dozen billionaires and billion-dollar businesses, needed to be “saved” in such a fashion. Congress knew though. Maybe because Congress is so benevolent and wise. Or, maybe, because baseball’s lobbying operation spent millions plying Congressmen for this special law to keep it from having to pay workers a living wage.

Based on the response to our past writings on this topic, I suspect most of you won’t care all that much. You either believe that all or most of these players are wealthy via six or seven-figure signing bonuses or will make serious money in the big leagues one day. That’s not true, but many of you believe it. Or, alternatively, maybe you view minor leaguers as a bunch of kids farting around with a hobby until they start their “real life,” so why should they make a living wage?

To the extent you believe that and to the extent this does not bother you, I’d simply suggest that you ask how much money minor league and major league organizations make via the playing and marketing of minor league baseball and how much Major League Baseball benefits by having its training and development system costs legislatively controlled. Ask yourself whether the company that gave you your first entry-level position would’ve loved to have a law allowing it to pay you less than minimum wage and how you would’ve felt if that was the case in your situation. Ask yourself if anyone else would have cared all that much about the job you had when you were 22 and whether that would make a difference to you as you made the equivalent of $5 or $6 an hour for a multi-billion dollar business.

Maybe that still doesn’t sway you. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is a greedy cash grab by baseball which now, thanks to specially-requested government intervention, institutionalizes and legitimizes the exploitation of young men with very little power and even less money. That you may be OK with it doesn’t make it right. In fact, it’s very, very wrong.