Great Moments in Core Four love

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The Core Four: Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Jorge Posada. And, um, maybe Clay Bellinger? I forget. Not important.

What is important is that for years Yankees writers have always made sure to protect the necks of those guys, particularly Jeter and Rivera. Woe be unto anyone who is insufficiently reverent of them and woe, woe, woe be unto any Yankees player who has any kind of dustup with them for they shall be told, in no uncertain terms, that they are not the True Yankees and Gentlemen that Rivera, Jeter and — man, I wanna say Brosius? — are.

Such is the case with Wallace Matthews and Joba Chamberlain today. The Joba Chamberlain who shushed Mariano Rivera the other day was shushed by Mariano Rivera the other day and reacted angrily to it. It was a scandal of something a million miles less than epic proportions, it’s over now and it’s meaningless, but you wouldn’t believe it to read Matthews. This silly little incident is, it seems, a referendum on Joba Chamberlain as a human being and Matthews spares no purple prose in telling us just how much less of a human and a pitcher Chamberlain is than Rivera is in making his point.

Which, thanks! Because before this I was certain that Chamberlain was a better pitcher than Rivera and now I know differently.

Seriously, though, you have to read it to believe it in all of its overwrought glory:

In the same ballpark where Mariano Rivera’s Yankees career nearly ended a year ago on the warning track, Joba Chamberlain’s Yankees tenure surely did in the dugout, his mouth writing what will soon be the epitaph to a career that turned out to be no more than a broken promise.

So confused. If the promise was broken, was it not false? And might that mean now that his mouth is, um, writing something other than an epitaph? Chamberlain is the Master of Lies! Maybe he is deceiving us!

Also note that, once again, Joba playing with his son on a trampoline is seen as a character flaw. That never gets old. And there is a passage in which Matthews suggests that Rivera would surely forgive Chamberlain where others might not. I was hoping he’d go with a full-on Jesus comparison at that point, but he used his deft writer’s touch to only suggest it. Probably wanted to avoid potential blasphemy in saying His name too many times or something.

In any event, this is so beyond parody of the Sucking Up to the True Yankees genre that I have to wonder if Matthews has gone completely meta on us and this is, rather, a COMMENT on all of that.  If so, well-played, Wallace.

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.