Minor league players are not “property”

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While introducing the players in each team’s lineup during Sunday’s Futures Game at Petco Park, MLB Network broadcaster Matt Vasgersian referred to players as “property” of their respective teams multiple times. It’s a colloquial way of saying a player is in a particular team’s minor league system. I made a tweet about one particular instance in which Vasgersian referred to Hunter Renfroe as “property of the Padres” and received a handful of replies noting that this isn’t exactly new behavior for Vasgersian.

This isn’t meant to single out Vasgersian because he’s not the only one to have called prospects “property.” As fans and media types have gained awareness of the labor issues in the minor leagues, referring to players that way has gone out of style, deservedly so. But we haven’t eradicated it yet. Let’s do that.

The plight of minor leaguers has made headlines recently when a proposed bill sought to change language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 so that Major League Baseball could continue to underpay its minor league players. One of the two Congresspeople who backed the bill, Cheri Bustos (D-IL), rescinded her support after receiving widespread public criticism. MLB doubled down, saying that minor league ball “not a career but a short-term seasonal apprenticeship.” They’re professionals right up until the time MLB has to cut a check.

So how much do minor leaguers make? According to MiLB.com, they earn $1,100 per month maximum in their first contract season, or $13,200 per year. They earn $25 per day in meal money at all levels, only for road games. Teams typically haven’t focused on making sure their minor league players eat well. The Phillies made headlines earlier this year by investing about $1 million to make sure their young players have healthy meal options. Most of them have to live on gas station grub, fast food, and ramen noodles. They’re sharing apartments with more roommates than there are bedrooms, often by a factor of two or three. Or, as was illustrated in the movie Bull Durham, players shack up with friendly locals known as “host families.”

The players are treated like indentured servants, so it follows that the language reflects that. Paying attention to the language can be a small step towards paying minor leaguers a living wage, as it forces people to empathize with them.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.