MLB yelled at the Red Sox for replaying a close play on the Fenway scoreboard


In the bottom of the sixth of the first game of yesterday’s Sox-Yankees doubleheader, David Ortiz was doubled off first base when Adrian Gonzalez flied out to Andruw Jones. It was a close play and, on first glance, it looked like Mark Teixeira was pulled off the bag when leaping for the relay throw.

So, just as you as a fan would hope for, the people who operate the video board at Fenway Park ran a replay. Even though it seemed to show that the right call had been made, the crowd booed because, hey, the home crowd is gonna boo such things.

But get this:

The Red Sox received a call from the commissioner’s office complaining that the video board at Fenway Park replayed a controversial umpire’s decision during Saturday’s game. As a rule, teams are instructed not to replay close calls, for fear that it might incite the crowd … The umpires are believed to have lodged a complaint between innings to MLB, which subsequently contacted the Red Sox.

This is stupid cubed. It’s stupid that there’s any kind of a rule in which teams should not show replays of close calls, it’s stupid that the umpires complained when this stupid rule was not honored and it was stupid when MLB contacted the Red Sox to complain about the stupid umpire complaint regarding the stupid rule.

We already know that umpires’ skins are so thin and their insecurity so great that they cannot countenance official instant replay, but I had no idea it was so thin that they could not countenance merely showing a call that may or may not have been messed up to fans in the seats. The same replay that thousands or, in national games, millions of people watching on TV are already seeing.

And Major League Baseball, what’s your excuse? The stated purpose of the rule — inciting the crowd — is silly. This is not South American soccer. The only riots at major league ballparks in living memory involved disco and ten cent beer, not bad umpire calls. I think baseball fans are mature enough and security at ballparks is sufficient to withstand showing a botched umpire call from time to time.

And what is baseball losing by not allowing such things? A better in-game experience for fans who won’t, after a close call, wonder if the call was correctly made and think to themselves — as I do from time to time — if I would have been better off watching at home.

Oh, and some transparency and public accountability for umpires too, but I don’t think that’s very high on baseball’s agenda, so forget I mentioned it.

(thanks to Bigleagues for the heads up)

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.