Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist has been away from the team since early May. It was later revealed to be because of a messy divorce. Zobrist, however, began a rehab assignment with Single-A South Bend over the weekend. He’s expected to need most or all of the month of August to get back into game shape.
Per the team’s Twitter, Zobrist provided the pre-game spread — a bunch of food from McDonald’s.
It a really nice gesture from Zobrist. You see this from time to time when well-known veterans get sent on rehab assignments in the minors. Major leaguers, with their guaranteed contracts and minimum $555,000 salaries, do a nice thing for the minor leaguers who don’t have those luxuries. Yu Darvish, for example, bought steak and lobster for South Bend on a rehab assignment last year.
It would be nice if minor leaguers didn’t have to rely on the kindness of veteran players and locals to afford to eat. Zobrist essentially subsidized the Cubs’ frugality. The Cubs — valued by Forbes at $3.1 billion earlier this year — should be paying for that spread, not one of its players. Let’s not forget that Major League Baseball lobbied to have language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 changed so that minor league players could not qualify as seasonal workers, which would mean they are not owed a minimum wage and overtime pay. With more take-home pay, minor leaguers could afford to go to grocery stores and, for example, buy the ingredients to make a salad or just buy a pre-made salad.
Due to relative cheapness and ubiquity, unhealthy fast food is a major part of minor leaguers’ diets. One would think a billion-dollar business like a major league team would want to ensure that its investments — minor league players — have the highest chance of yielding big returns by providing them healthy food options. Alas, that is not the case for most organizations.