Recently, legislation proposed by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) called “Save America’s Pastime Act,” or H.R. 5580, would have amended language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 so that Major League Baseball could continue to pay minor league players a pittance.
After widespread public criticism, Bustos withdrew her support for the bill, but Major League Baseball doubled down. In a press release, MLB called minor league ball “not a career but a short-term seasonal apprenticeship.”
That comment, too, received widespread criticism. On Tuesday, speaking to the media prior to the 2016 All-Star Game at Petco Park, commissioner Rob Manfred tripled down. Via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
Which, obviously, is hogwash. Major League Baseball was valued at nearly $9.5 billion according to Forbes last December. And just a few weeks ago, Major League Baseball sold a 33 percent share in Advanced Media to Disney, valued at around $1.1 billion. Manfred could lose a billion in the couch cushions and Major League Baseball wouldn’t skip a beat. It could certainly afford to pay its minor leaguers a living wage such that they wouldn’t have to cram more people into an apartment than there are bedrooms and bathrooms. It could pay them enough to ensure they’re eating vegetables instead of fast food.
Also implied in Manfred’s statement, and explicitly said in MLB’s statement, is that the small towns support the minor league franchises. That’s not the case. The major league teams are responsible for covering the costs of its minor league affiliates.