A curious definition of “old school”

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Dave O’Brien’s column about the McCann-Gomez thing is kinda hilarious. It extolls Brian McCann’s “old school” mentality of getting up in Gomez’s face. He then added this:

I heard Billy Wagner interviewed on the radio today, and he was asked about what happened. Wagner said if it had happened when he played for the Astros, Gomez wouldn’t have made it past first base because Jeff Bagwell would have started a fight with him.

Old school.

Note: Jeff Bagwell never fought a guy on the basepaths in his entire career. And O’Brien admits that he’s never seen a catcher do what McCann did. Query: how is something “old school” if it’s totally unprecedented? He goes on:

In the past, no hitter would have pulled that stunt against the likes of Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez … against any hard-throwing pitcher or a team with a hard-throwing pitcher going the next day. Because he’d have gotten a fastball in the ribs as a message, and wouldn’t get tossed because umpires would not have given warnings beforehand

Again, a path not taken by McCann and the Braves. I don’t condone beanings, but at least that would’ve been an old school move. You wouldn’t have seen John Roseboro blocking the baseline. He’d let Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale handle it. McCann didn’t give his pitcher a chance to be “old school.”

Wait, there’s more!

By the way, can you even imagine if Chipper had done something like that at third base late in his career, when he was in full-on icon mode and seemingly every week provided a new moment to remember from him? They’d have made posters of that moment.

But he never did it either. He let Maddux and Smoltz and those guys hit people. Or he would’ve just gone and rapped a double off the wall the next inning and been happy to laugh at an immature jerk playing for a fourth place team 22 games out of first while he was on his way to the playoffs for the tenth year in a row.

You see where I’m going with this. There was nothing old school about what McCann did. You can like it if you want. You can say it was evidence of a mindset you like. But it wasn’t old school. McCann was not upholding some grand tradition. He was just being a hothead.

But there is one “old school” element to all of this. It’s totally old school for a beat writer to praise the guys he needs to get quotes from, no matter how disingenuous he has to be in order to do it. That’s just about as old as the game itself.

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.