Frank Deford would like you to know that being a sportswriter is not fun and enjoyable like it used to be. We actually have to work during games now and attempt to be experts in a given sport rather than be generalist raconteurs who sit back and enjoy a ballgame while drinking a Tom Collins and then, several hours later, writing up a few hundred words that no one has the means to challenge or question:
But today there are no news cycles. News is like the Earth going around the sun, cycling constantly. As a consequence, sportswriters are required to update and blog and react to everything … now it is the sports fans at home with their gargantuan HDTVs who are the privileged ones watching the games, while sportswriters are the ones not able to. Now, that’s a fine how-do-you-do, isn’t it?
And it’s especially bad this time of year:
… this is the most trying time of the year, because there is no game this week, so we have this interminable countdown to the Super Bowl, and each day is worse for sportswriters because there is nothing new to analyze. And this year everything besides the Super Bowl is also so depressing … So fans, be kind. I’ve dubbed this “be sympathetic to sportswriters week,” the black hole in our sports calendar.
I don’t know. I just try to take these trying days one at a time. Wake up each morning and steel myself against the tribulations that rain down upon me and my sports writing brethren. To hope that my personal fortitude, combined with the thoughts and prayers of non-sportswriters, help me make it through and to realize that whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
Or, alternatively, I wake up each morning and pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about having this cool-ass job, even when it’s the offseason and there’s nothing particularly interesting to write about. Either way.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.