Instant replay costs the Tigers a run. Sort of.


Crazy sequence of events in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. Instant replay cost the Tigers a run, though it was ad-hoc instant replay, nothing official.  The upshot:

  • Alex Avila missed third base while scoring the Tigers fifth run in he fifth inning, but the Indians apparently didn’t notice immediately.
  • During a pitching change right after the run scored, someone in the Indians’ clubhouse watched it on replay. They told the Indians’ dugout about it, which soon became animated, with players telling Manny Acta that he needed to appeal the play. Tony Sipp continued warming up.
  • Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont heard the ruckus and knew what was happening. Cognizant that, per the rules, an appeal has to be made before the next pitch or play, told Quintin Berry — who was on second base — to take off, trying to get him picked off. That would have ended the  inning, but it would have preserved the run.
  • Berry took off, trying to get thrown out, but play had not officially resumed yet. Start over.
  • Berry took off again, but Sipp threw to third — not to get Berry — but to put out Avila, who had missed the base, as is done in such appeals.  The ump called Avila out. Run off the board, inning over.

Very heads up play by the Indinas. And really, quite the attempted heads up play by Lamont and Berry too.

Still: the whole appeal process is kind of antiquated and, frankly, whack. The need to actually throw over to the base after the guy who missed it left the field of play. The fact that the umps stay silent, even if they know the base had been missed, and await an appeal.  The fact that a play that was clearly messed up cannot be reviewed if a throw is made.  And above all else, the fact that we can have no official replay of such plays, but that the teams can utilize replay, more or less, from the clubhouse.  If we had an ump in the booth and some common sense, that whole play is straightened out in five seconds, not all of that time it took.

You know what to do, people:  write letters — actual letters in the mail — to the Commish.

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.