Quote of the Day: Vin Scully on the 9/11 anniversary

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Apart from some random aside kind of things I have refrained from doing a big 9/11 remembrance post. Mostly because — despite our being implored to “never forget” — I find it pretty unpleasant to think about. And it’s not like there’s any chance those of us who were adults when that went down are going to forget anyway. Though yes, I realize that it’s incumbent on us to make sure those who come later don’t.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t do particularly well with death and mourning and tragedy, and I’ve never been able to say anything particularly inspiring or thoughtful at these times.  My biggest weapon against darkness is a dark, defensive humor, and this is one of those occasions where even I know that humor is not appropriate.

Thankfully we have people like Vin Scully. He has the depth and perspective due to his character and his age to be able to put this sort of thing in context. And he did so prior to yesterday’s Dodgers-Giants game. While noting that things like Pearl Harbor and D-Day have inevitably faded from living memory, he reminded us of the importance of doing whatever we can to prevent it from happening:

“We had a lead, gray morning, slowly burning off to a brilliant sunrise, making you think of that beautiful day in New York 10 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001. Certainly a day in which God must have wept, wept over man’s inhumanity to man. A day of heroes and a day of horror … But it should also bring some honor for as we watch rising from the ashes of New York, like the Phoenix itself, the high-rises that will once again be a testimony to the heart and soul of this great country. I remember Ronald Reagan once said, ‘If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.’ And you might notice today, above all days, you will hear God’s name mentioned, and we hope, not in vain.”

You can read everything he had to say over at the Los Angeles Times, along with a video of his first words following the Dodgers’ return to action after 9/11.

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.