And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez each socked two homers. The ball was carrying pretty well in Chavez Ravine last night, apparently, because Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence each homered as well. Both of those came in the sixth, after Zack Greinke appeared to do, well, something to himself while running the bases in the bottom of the fifth. He didn’t look himself when he pitched the sixth — Schulman and Kruk made mention of it too — but no one on the Dodgers came out to see if he was OK. I feel like we may hear more about this today, because he really did appear like he was uncomfortable. As if he had tweaked something.

Twins 10, Indians 7: All Chris Colabello does is drive in runs in bunches. Well, a couple of times a week, anyway. A few days after his six-RBI performance he drove in four here, including a three-run double in the sixth inning which broke a 6-6 tie. I was going to suggest that he has made a Faustian bargain for this newfound success after years toiling in the independent leagues, but that’s not nice. And it’s not even appropriate, as Faust is a German legend and Colabello is Italian. So let’s just say it was a Mefistofelean bargain.

Orioles 3, Tigers 1: And there goes our shot at having a team go 162-0. Thanks, Orioles. Sheesh. Good day for Chris Tillman, though. Apart from a Torii Hunter dinger, there was nothing doing off him over eight and a third.

Pirates 2, Cardinals 1: Tony Sanchez: master of the game-winning RBI. Which isn’t a real stat anymore, but since I get all of my baseball information from the back of 1986 Topps cards, it’s good enough for me. Sanchez broke the tie with an RBI double off Adam Wainwright. This a couple of days after he had the game-winning hit in that 16-inning affair. Three hits all season, but two of them really counted.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3: Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer to put the Dbacks up 5-0, so let’s call his a game-winning RBI too. Let’s also call what he’s been doing — he’s hit homers in four straight games — earning his keep. I watched a couple innings of him play left field on Saturday night and it was such a vividly affecting experience that I could taste colors afterward. He’s only safely viewed while he’s holding a bat.

Yankees 6, Blues Jays 4: CC Sabathia wasn’t fantastic or anything, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings, but he got the win. The Yankees scored three in the first with a single hit thanks to a walk, a stolen base, two groundouts, another walk, a plunked batter and a double. If Drew Hutchison doesn’t give the Yankees all of those base runners to start things off, maybe he’s getting the win here. In other news, Derek Jeter passed Paul Molitor on the all-time hits list.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Padres 4, Marlins 2: Alexi Amarista hit a a go-ahead, three-run pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning. And yesterday was his birthday too. So, if he played his cards right, he had a Grand Slam to go with that three-run job,

Reds 2, Mets 1: When Aroldis Chapman went down a lot of people suggested that Alfredo Simon may take over the closer’s role. Good for Cincinnati that he didn’t, because he looked pretty good as a starter. Simon allowed one run over seven innings. He even got a hit and scored the Reds’ first run. Not too shabby.

Brewers 4, Red Sox 0: The sweep. On a shutout, no less, as Yovani Gallardo gave up nothin’ for six and two-thirds and the pen took it the rest of the way. The Red Sox just matched their longest losing streak in all of 2013. It’s the first time the Sox have lost their first three home games of the season since 1984. Rough start for the champs.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: Good starts from both Alex Wood and Taylor Jordan, but Ian Desmond’s homer in the seventh was the difference maker. An even bigger deal when you read about what he went through yesterday morning. You have to figure anyone in that situation would be off his game, but good for Desmond for both doing the right thing in life and in baseball yesterday. Braves take two of three from the Nats, however. Also: B.J. Upton was 0-for-4 but didn’t strike out even once. I feel like we should have a party for him or something.

Rangers 3, Rays 0: Yu Darvish missing the first week of the season: not a big deal. He came back yesterday and all he did was pitch seven shutout innings with six strikeouts. Including his 500th career strikeout. He is the fastest ever to 500 strikeouts, beating Kerry Wood to the milestone by three innings.

Astros 7, Angels 4: Five homers for the Astros — four off Jered Weaver — and a nice outing from Scott Feldman. That’s two nice outings in a row for him, actually. I feel like that three-year, $30 million deal of his will end up being quite a nice bargain for Houston.

White Sox 5, Royals 1: Chris Sale tossed eight shutout innings, outdueling James Shields who had a nice outing himself. Tim Collins has walked four guys and given up four runs in one total inning pitched across two outings so far. May want to start putting him in some lower-leverage situations, Ned.

Cubs 8, Phillies 3: A.J. Burnett was roughed up for eight runs — only four earned — in five and two-thirds. He walked six, too, so eww. Ryan Kalish had RBIs on a double and a triple. The Cubs avoid the sweep.

Athletics 6, Mariners 3: Homers for Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes and an actually-converted save for Jim Johnson. Sonny Gray allowed one earned run and six hits in six innings.

MiLB president Pat O’Conner says teams would contract if minor league players had to be paid more

Minor League Baseball
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As Craig mentioned earlier, a new law is likely to pass as part of a Republican-led spending bill that amends language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The result of that will make minor leaguers exempt from being owed minimum wage and overtime pay, meaning that teams can continue to pay them very little. Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball lobbied Congress to do this, as MiLB president Pat O’Conner readily admits, as Josh Norris of Baseball America reports.

Why all this effort? In 2014, former minor leaguer Aaron Senne filed a lawsuit along with Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle, alleging that the minor leagues violated state and federal minimum wage laws. In many cases, minor leaguers earn less than $10,000 a year and only a small percentage of players can be buoyed by their signing bonuses.

O’Conner said, “When the lawsuit came out two or three years ago, we started to put a strategy together. We’ve been lobbying Congress since June of 2016. … We had 94 people in Washington in June of 2016 walking the halls, talking to the elected officials.

Here’s what that lobbying effort looks like in graph form, via Maury Brown of Forbes:

O’Conner goes on, as he usually does, making disingenuous arguments to justify paying minor leaguers unlivable wages. He said, “To me, it’s fairly simple. If Major League Baseball experiences a tremendous increase in its cost of labor, it will reduce the number of players it offers to Minor League Baseball, or it will come to Minor League Baseball and expect us to pay a portion of that increase in cost. Either one of those are catastrophic to our business model.”

O’Conner said, “If the cost of that talent is doubled or tripled, which could happen under an FLSA basis, MLB is not going to pay that much money for the talent. They’re not going to pay. They’re going to do one of two things: They’re going to say, ‘If 160 (minor league) teams is going to cost (this much), we’re just going to cut down on the number of teams. We’re not going to pay for 160. We’ll pay for 80. We’ll pay for 100.’ Then the other 60 or 80 that are left without players, if they want to stay in business, they’re going to have to pay for their own players. … You might lose half of the (league). You don’t know. You might lose leagues. You might lose cities in leagues. Nobody knows, but the fact of the matter is one of two things is very likely to happen: MLB is either going to cut back on the number of teams it provides, or (MiLB) is going to have to start paying salaries.”

Major league teams are responsible for paying the salaries of the players on their minor league affiliates. Minor league teams are only responsible for paying their own employees, including front office personnel as well as ticket-takers, ushers, concession stand workers, and such. But we’ve done the math on this before and giving minor leaguers a livable wage is a drop in the bucket to an industry that saw over $10 billion in revenue last year. The average Major League Baseball team is valued at $1.54 billion, according to Forbes. TV deals and MLB Advanced Media have a lot to do with that.

Let’s go over the math again just so we’re all on the same page. Most teams have six affiliates; some have seven or eight. Players will go up and down through the minors, so the teams are usually dealing with 50 or so players in any given year, sometimes in excess. But generally speaking each team has a 25-man roster. Six minor league teams at 25 players each comes out to 150 players. Guaranteeing them a $30,000 salary comes out to $4.5 million in total for six teams. Obviously, the total is slightly more for teams with more affiliates, and if you want to guarantee them a higher salary. $4.5 million is the cost of a free agent reliever. Fernando Rodney, Craig Stammen, and Jared Hughes signed contracts for exactly that amount this offseason. For the cost of a free agent reliever, every team could guarantee each of its minor league players a livable wage so they could pay the bills. $30,000 in the grand scheme of things still isn’t much, but in many cases, it would represent a pay increase of four or five times what they’re getting now. Teams valued north of $1 billion can easily afford an additional $4.5 million each year.

Furthermore, Matt Winkelman of Crashburn Alley brings up a good point:

As mentioned on, the Tampa Yankees, Springfield Cardinals, and Gwinnett Braves are examples of teams owned by their major league parent team. Which makes O’Conner’s fear-mongering all the more disingenuous.

Major League teams wouldn’t pass on the cost to their minor league affiliates not only because they might already own their affiliates, but also because they would be reaping the benefits of paying their players more. Being able to study film at home instead of working the graveyard shift as an Uber driver would, on the whole, make their players better. Being able to afford gas would allow them to more easily shop for fresh fruit and vegetables instead of constantly walking a block to a pizza shop or McDonald’s. Healthier players are better than unhealthier players, right? Being able to afford a quality mattress, instead of sleeping on a couch, would allow players to sleep better. Better sleep means better production in every industry. Better players means a better hit rate on draft picks, which means more talent making its way to the majors that is cost-controlled for six years. As we’ve seen with the evolution of free agency, teams vastly prefer cultivating their own talent rather than paying a premium for it on the free agent market.

What this comes down to is pure, simple avarice. It’s short-sighted greed on the part of team owners and the people that work for them. Their public justification falls flat and were they capable of feeling shame, that’s what they should be feeling. Beyond their labor, minor league players are the product being marketed to fans. Without them, the owners have nothing.