Getty Images

Blue Jays to raise minor league pay by 50 percent

24 Comments

For the past several years we and others have chronicled the sorry state of pay for minor leaguers. Woefully underpaid for years — making less than minimum wage, getting no overtime despite working long hours and being forced into all manner of unpaid training — lawsuits were filed against Major League Baseball for violating federal labor laws.

MLB’s response: lobby Congress for special treatment allowing them, by law, to continue to mistreat their employees. That lobbying paid off last year via the passage of the so-called “Save America’s Pastime Act” which classified ballplayers as “seasonal workers” like landscapers or lifeguards, thereby exempting them from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Just yesterday Emily Waldon of The Athletic shared a story about just how much of a hardship this state of affairs has visited upon minor leaguers, many of whom have to give up baseball as a result of the dreadful pay.

While fans and commentators who are aware of these practices have howled, there has been no suggestion that Major League Baseball gives a crap. As of today, however, we have learned that at least one team does: The Athletic reports that the Toronto Blue Jays “are in the process of finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for any player who is on a roster of an affiliated minor-league club, from the lowest rung in the Dominican Summer League to the highest level at Triple A, club.”

At the moment, Single-A players make around $1,100 a month, Triple-A players around $2,100-$2,500 a month and are not paid for the offseason, when they have to train and often must attend team events, or for spring training where, obviously, attendance is mandatory. A 50% raise over that still pays many of these players less than minimum wage on an hourly basis over the course of a year, but bumps some over and, in any event, is certainly a substantial increase. Is it good enough? Not really. But it’s a start and a welcome change of approach by at least one club.

Mark Shapiro of the Blue Jays says in the article that he hopes other teams follow suit and I share that hope. Still, it’s a sad comment that paying minor leaguers something even approaching a living wage is a matter of choice — and something for which the Blue Jays will be lauded — as a opposed to a basic requirement that the Jays and other teams should be obligated to meet.

 

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

Getty Images
6 Comments

Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]