Terry Collins makes the unwritten rules even more complicated than they already were


Here’s an interesting philosophical question: if you get into one of those unwritten rules, Old School situations in which the other guy’s big star gets drilled and, you can expect, your big guy is going to get hit in retaliation, are you obligated to make your big guy bat and take that lump?

Terry Collins was faced with that situation last night.  After Rickie Weeks hit a home run, Mets pitcher D.J. Carrasco drilled Ryan Braun with the next pitch. It certainly seemed intentional, and given that the ump immediately ejected Carrasco, he thought so too, Carrasco’s “it got away from me” post-game schitck notwithstanding.

But, as the Old School rules dictate, the score is not settled until someone gets hit in retaliation (never mind that either the homer or the ejection could be thought of as balancing out the scales; this is Sparta after all). It seems more likely that if the Brewers’ superstar got drilled, the Mets’ star would be hit in return. And David Wright was due up soon.

Except Collins didn’t let it happen. He pulled Wright for a pinch hitter, and explained his reasoning to the press after the game:

“You want to know why I took him out of the game?” Collins said later, his voice sharp and loud. “He wasn’t getting hurt … I’ve got news for you: In this game there are unwritten rules and one of the unwritten rules is, ‘You hit my guy — I’m hitting your guy.’ They were not hitting my guy tonight.”

Wright was visibly angry in the dugout when Collins yanked him. Collins later said that Wright said “if someone’s going to get hit, it’s going to be me.” Which I suppose is standup leadership of some twisted kind. Indeed, I’m reminded of Major Heyward allowing himself to be burned by the Huron Indians so Hawkeye and his pals can go free in “Last of the Mohicans.” Oh, Major Heyward, your bravery and sacrifice was ever so noble!

Anyway, the question I have is whether, in not allowing the unwritten rules play themselves out, Terry Collins, in fact, broke the unwritten rules. You double-cross once – where’s it all end? An interesting ethical question. Oh, and doesn’t this mean that Wright is now certain to get hit the next time the Mets and Brewers play? Was anything accomplished?

Gosh baseball is complicated.

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.