And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 5, Indians 2: Cleveland was done in yesterday by two homers for
Carl Crawford, a strong start from Wade Davis and a
sociopathic heel-turn from LeBron James
.  Cleveland is a tough city, though.  They handled a burning river. They handled the implosion of basically the entire economy. They handle about ten feel of snow every winter.  They’re hurt and angry today, but they’ll get over this. It takes a hell of a lot more than the vicissitudes of some rude young basketball player to keep Cleveland down.

Yankees 3, Mariners 1: Alex Rodriguez took well to his first night of no longer being sports’ most hated figure, hitting a two run RBI single in the ninth which proved to be the game winner.

Padres 7, Nationals 1: Mat Latos shut out the Nats over seven innings and went 2 for 3 with a home run. Four homers in all for the Padres.

Rockies 4 Cardinals 2: Look on the bright side Cardinals fans: the pen didn’t blow this one. And hey, you probably penciled in the Ubaldo Jimenez start as the one you’d drop in this series anyway, right?

Giants 9, Brewers 3: Nothing like a trip to Milwaukee to cure what ails an offense. The Giants busted out the whuppin’ sticks in sweeping the Brewers this week. Four RBI for Aubrey Huff and another home run for Buster Posey. Only bad part: Barry Zito was staked to a 6-0 lead but couldn’t even last the five innings necessary to claim the win.  The Z-man — which no one has ever called him to my knowledge, but why the hell not? — hasn’t won a game in a month.

Phillies 4, Reds 3: Both Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge blow leads in the late innings, but the pen held once the game went into extras and Philly won it on a walkoff bomb from Brian Schneider. Newly-named All-Star Joey Votto stayed hot, hitting a homer of his own.

Orioles 6, Rangers 4: A day after I give them the Detective Munch treatment the O’s show some friggin’ moxie. Down 4-0 in the fifth, Baltimore claws back. They had help in the eighth though, with Frank Francisco plunking a guy to load the bases, Darren Oliver coming in and  plunking the very next guy to force in a run and then walking the guy after that to force in yet another run. Oh, and Nolan Ryan is telling reporters he might not be the next owner of the Rangers now, so all in all a pretty craptacular day for Texas fans.

Astros 2, Pirates 0: I hit this one up yesterday, but suffice it to say that Roy Oswalt did nothing to discourage the many scouts following him around.

White Sox 1, Angels 0: Aaron hit this one up yesterday, but suffice it to say that Torii Hunter is not a happy camper.

Blue Jays 8, Twins 1: The Twins get bombed and are now two back of the Tigers and a game and a half behind Chicago.  Are they getting desperate to trade for Lee yet?

Dodgers 3, Cubs 2: Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 and Rafael Furcal went 3 for 3 with a homer and 2 RBI.  Fact from the game notes: “The Dodgers took a 1,019-1,017 lead in the all-time series between the
teams that began in 1890.” What people don’t know is that the Dodgers had a distinct advantage in the series for a while, but that in 1911 it began to even up when the Cubs called up a young starting pitcher named Jamie Moyer.

Diamondbacks 10, Marlins 4: Smallest crowd in Diamondbacks’ history at 16,664. The Marlins were impressed, though.  They can’t draw that on Free Money and Donuts Night.

Minor League Baseball teams sold over $70 million in merchandise in 2017

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Every so often here, we discuss the criminally low pay of Minor League Baseball players. Most of them make less than $7,500 a year, which includes the regular season as well as spring training, playoffs, and offseason training. The abysmal pay forces minor leaguers to eat unhealthy food, live in cramped quarters, and forego consistent, quality sleep, among other things.

What makes this situation worse is that Minor League Baseball is a huge money-maker for their parent teams in Major League Baseball. Josh Norris of Baseball America reported yesterday that Minor League Baseball teams sold $70.8 million in merchandise in 2017. That represented a 3.6 percent increase over the previous record set in 2016. This is just merchandise. Now think about concession and ticket sales.

Minor League Baseball COO Brian Earle said, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations. The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

You may recall that Major League Baseball had been lobbying Congress to pass legislation exempting minor league players from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Doing so classified baseball players as seasonal workers, which means they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. That legislation passed earlier this year. Minor League Baseball generates profits hand over fist and it is now legally protected from having to share that with the labor that produced it.

Many points of divergence led us to this point, but the question is how do we change it? Minor leaguers are routinely taken advantage of because they don’t have a union. Compare the minors in baseball to the minors in hockey, where minor leaguers have a union. As SB Nation’s Marc Normandin pointed out last month, the minimum salary for American Hockey League players is $45,000 and the average salary is $118,000. They receive a playoff share of around $20,000, and receive health insurance that covers themselves as well as their families. Furthermore, the minor league hockey players’ per diem is $74, about three times as much as minor league baseball players’ per diem of $25.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have shown no inclination towards treating minor league players simply out of moral obligation or good will, so the minor leaguers need union coverage to force their conditions to improve. This could be as simple as the MLBPA expanding its coverage to the minor leagues because, after all, some minor leaguers do become major leaguers, right? Or the minor leaguers could themselves create a union. It’s easy to say, but tougher to do, which is why they still don’t have a union.

At any rate, every fan of baseball should be enraged when they read that Minor League Baseball keeps setting records year after year when it comes to selling hats and t-shirts, then refuses to share any of that wealth with the labor responsible for it. It’s morally reprehensible.