Report: Bud Selig is prepared to tear up the drug agreement just to get A-Rod out of baseball


He is if you believe this report from the Daily News, anyway. Which, yes, is a pretty big caveat — this could very well just be a big bluff communicated to a newspaper which has done a great job over the years carrying the anti-PED crowd’s water — but we gotta take reports at face value until we have reason not to.

The report: that Bud Selig is prepared to invoke his powers to “preserve the integrity of the game” in order to keep Alex Rodriguez off the field even if he appeals his discipline. In other words: Selig will essentially void the part of the Joint Drug Agreement that allows players to play pending appeal and suspend him summarily.

Which is absolute madness, of course.

Even if A-Rod has done everything of which he is accused, even if he is the biggest PED user in the history of PED users, even if he has attempted to interfere with MLB’s investigation, he is still owed due process. Everyone is. The Joint Drug Agreement covers all of those offenses, even the interference with an investigation thing. It says that the JDA is the sole basis of discipline in matters arising out of PEDs. To deny a player his appeal rights under that agreement would be a shameful abuse of power, even when the player involved happens to be unpopular. The least of my brothers, and such.

At some point we have to ask ourselves how much of Major League Baseball’s investigation and subsequent discipline of Alex Rodriguez is about penalizing a player for his bad acts and how much of it is about kicking an unliked and unwanted player — and a player who makes an awful lot of money — out of the game simply because it would make most people feel good.

Of course, maybe it doesn’t go this far.  Maybe the point of this is to simply make Bud Selig look tough. After all, this very question — “Is Bud Selig going too far to fight the drug users?!” — serves his legacy interests very, very well.

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.