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Bartolo Colon wants to pitch in 2019

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The other night Bartolo became the all-time winningest pitcher from Latin America, passing Dennis Martinez on the all-time list. Given that he’s 45 and that other milestones like 300 wins are not in the cards for him, one might think that there are no more realistic worlds left to conquer for Colon, leading to his retirement after this season.

Not necessarily, says Colon. From Levi Weaver’s story about Colon in The Athletic which, in addition to stuff about a donkey named Pancho — you just gotta read it — includes this:

“There is one thing that I look for: Juan Marichal has more innings than me. For Dominicans, I want to beat him also, and I think I have about fifty innings left.”

He has 62 to go, in fact: Marichal leads 3,507 to 3,445 after Colon’s seven-inning performance. He’s unlikely to reach that goal this season. But next?

One has to think he will at least be given a chance. In terms of durability Colon has been Colon this year — he’s likely to finish with around 180 innings pitched — and he continues to not walk dudes, handing out only 1.5 free passes per nine innings. He is likewise having an overall better year than he did last year. That’s not great production — his 5.18 ERA and 5.21 FIP is below average — but there are worse dudes hanging out in the back end of rotations or working out of bullpens, particularly for some non-contenders. If you just wanted someone to eat some innings while you kinda sorta mail in your season, you could do worse than a 46-year-old Bartolo Colon. Especially on a minor league deal next spring.

Who knows if he’ll be pitching in the 2019 season, but I bet we see him in either or Florida or Arizona giving it a try come February.

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.