Wait — did 2009 actually happen?

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I’m sorry to be fixated on Yankees stuff this afternoon, but apparently watching two teams that aren’t the Yankees play in the World Series is driving the New York writers crazy.

Lupica’s column today is about how, for all the money the Yankees have spent in the past decade, they only have the one World Series title to show for it. Or, put differently, only one “[s]ince Mike Piazza hit one into Bernie Williams’ glove at the end of the 2000 Subway Series.” But I guess a decade is technically a decade and who are we to dwell on something that happened 11 seasons out? Ancient history.

Anyway, this is my favorite passage:

Two years ago, the Yankees spent $425 million on Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett. When those guys finally put the Yankees back on top in 2009, we heard it was part of a grand master plan. Only now the Yankees get pistol-whipped by the Rangers, and the immediate thought – demand? – to make things right is to go spend another $125 million, or whatever it is going to take, to get the best pitcher out there this year, Cliff Lee.
Only in New York could someone caveat-away a one-year-old World Series title like that. It’s as if it didn’t matter and the plan that led to that title was a big fraud or something.

MLB now trying to get minor leaguers exempted from minimum wage law at the state level

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In recent years, Major League Baseball spent significant amounts of money lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. They succeeded last year, as minor leaguers are now considered seasonal workers and as such are not owed minimum wage or overtime pay.

MLB is not yet done attacking minor leaguers. Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times reports that MLB is trying to get Arizona lawmakers to exempt players from state minimum wage law. A proposed bill, HB 2180, is being sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (R – Coolidge) and would protect MLB from lawsuits, past or present, for not paying minor leaguers at least minimum wage during spring training. Minor leaguers already do not get paid for their work in spring training, so this is simply a preemptive maneuver by MLB to protect itself from potential lawsuits. As Giles notes, HB 2180 would enshrine the exemption in federal law in Arizona’s state statute.

Shope said, “I think it’s just trying to clear up what MLB considers a gray area on their blank. … My assumption is they obviously do have a concern, and are trying to protect a flank of theirs more in the pro-active sense.” Talking about minor leaguers, Shope said spring training is “essentially a tryout. You’re not on the team yet.”

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and one of the lawyers representing Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle in a case Craig wrote about here, spoke to Giles for his article. Broshuis said, “It really is just unfortunate, because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Broshuis is seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Florida and Arizona, the league’s two homes for spring training. Arizona is home to the Cactus League, the spring training league for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. A federal judge denied Broshuis’s request but he appealed and is waiting on a ruling.

MLB makes a ton of money during spring training the same way it makes money during the regular season: by charging for tickets, concessions, merchandise, and parking. Minor leaguers are part of the player population helping attract fans to the ballpark, so they deserve to be compensated for their work. That they are not is criminal enough, but to brazenly push legislation to remove any legal remedies they might have had is even more evil. MLB has been setting revenue records year over year, taking in more than $10 billion last year. The league and its individual teams can afford to provide a comfortable life for minor leaguers, but every day it makes the choice not to do so out of avarice.