Rod Allen

Tigers broadcaster Rod Allen apologizes to the little people

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I don’t get the sense that Tigers’ broadcaster Rod Allen is a bad guy. I think he’s a lot like someone’s father or grandfather who just really isn’t all that plugged in with the sensibilities of modern public discourse. Which, because he’s a broadcaster and not, like someone’s grandfather, simply some guy who talks with the fellas at the coffee shop, gets him in trouble from time to time.

Back in July he got into some trouble after saying that some Hispanic players’ reward for good play was going to be “rice and beans” in the clubhouse.  I never got the slightest sense that he was being racist about anything, it just was something that was not artfully put. He apologized.

Last night it happened again.  As he was talking about how Buffalo was his favorite minor league city, he noted some of the fun promotions and entertainments that went down there:

“The atmosphere at the ballpark was second-to-none. They had people at the concession stands that were dancing on top of the dugouts. They had some midgets around, they had some giants around.”

While not exactly at the forefront of the politics of minority discourse, it has been the case for some time that the term “midgets” is considered derogatory and that those who once were referred to as such prefer to be called “little people.”

Someone obviously told this to Allen during a break because he came back and apologized for using the term. I think it’s pretty clear that it was just something he wasn’t aware of — I’m sure a lot of people aren’t aware of it — and his apology sounded 100% genuine. This is firmly in the “hey, it happens” category and no one should hold any ill will toward Allen about it going forward.

But I note it anyway, not in an “OMG, look what Allen said!” kind of way, but because I think that there’s a useful takeaway here.  That takeaway is that, though many people will likely say that this is no big deal and turn this into some “political correctness run amok” debate, I think people should have a right to be called what they wish to be called.  If the people who were once referred to as midgets want to be little people, they’re little people. A group’s self-identity should be an inviolate right.

Of course there are two sides to that, and the other side is the dissemination of that public identity. I’m sure that Allen had no idea that little people prefer to be known as little people before last night. But he does now. As do the people who read this.  If you don’t know and you use some out-of-favor term, hey, no biggie.  But if you do know and you continue to use the out-of-favor term, you’re just being an ass, ya know?

Apologies to asses, however, if they prefer to be called something else. If you tell me what the term is, I’ll start using it.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.