Here come the Chris Davis PED suspicions

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Aaron noted just how crazy a season Chris Davis is having. And when you have a weekend like he had against a team with a big national profile like the Yankees, it sort of puts all of that in relief. And that, sadly, has brought out the PED suspicions. From Baltimore Sports Report:

A simple search on Twitter for the query “Chris Davis steroids” brings up a slew of tweets from baseball fans worldwide over the past few days with blatant accusations that Davis must be juicing.  Things like “It’s time to test Chris Davis for steroids” and “He has to be cheating” were popping up left and right all throughout Saturday and Sunday.  Davis even responded to one fan on Sunday afternoon with a simple “No” when asked “Are you on steroids?”

I can confirm the Twitter thing, as I went looking for that myself this morning (do the search yourself) and found no shortage of people flat accusing Davis of taking PEDs. I didn’t hear the report, but I’m told that a host or guest on a Dallas sports talk radio station was engaging in such speculation this morning too.

You may say “hey, it’s just jerks on Twitter,” but the fact is they are baseball fans. And they didn’t just independently invent the notion that a guy who hits a lot of home runs should automatically be assumed to be taking performance enhancing drugs. No, that speculation — utterly baseless speculation; Davis has always had tremendous power but is now, in the past year, matched it up with better plate discipline — is the product of a media landscape which has decided that every power hitter is a ‘roider. Jose Bautista got this treatment a couple of years ago. Davis is getting it now. Everyone who engages in this business does so because they’ve been convinced by the baseball media that such speculation is not just justified but necessary.

It’s neither of those things. The drug testing system put in place had avoiding these parlor games as one of its primary justifications. But that’s not good enough for some, apparently.

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.