Brian Cashman: “I don’t want a guy walking off the mound singing ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’”

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Brian Cashman is not going to put his life on the line for A.J. Burnett. As the New York Post reports this morning, Burnett only has one more guaranteed start, and that’s this Friday against the Orioles. The next time he starts after that the rosters will be expanded and the Yankees, who have a couple of pretty decent starter prospects down on the farm, may sit Burnett for a while.

But at the same time, Cashman is not going to throw Burnett under the bus. As Marc Carig reports in the Star-Ledger, Cashman admits that Burnett has been bad, saying that he’s been “pedestrian at best.” He also said that the whole A.J.-cussing-out-Girardi thing was both misinterpreted and overblown, and that in his mind, it’s far preferable to a guy having no cares in the world out there:

“I’ve got CC Sabathia cussing in his glove, I’ve got Paul O’Neill, who for a huge run here, was kicking water coolers. It’s not an issue. It’s just silliness. I’ve got other guys on our team doing the same stuff,” Cashman said. “I like seeing passion. I don’t want a guy walking off the mound singing ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ and having a skip to his step after a performance like that.”

Good point from Cashman who, as he has increasingly done over the past year or two, puts it quite amusingly as well.

Fact is, if a guy sucks in New York and he’s calm about it, he doesn’t care and has no fire. If a guy sucks in New York and he rants and raves, he has lost his cool.  You can’t win in New York.  Unless, of course, you’re winning, in which case you can do whatever the hell you want to.

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.