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Thread: Article: Minor League's Salary Structure Unfair?

  1. #41
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer
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    In the book Freakenomics the authors explained why the guy at the street corner would sell drugs. It was statistically the most dangerous job in America as well as low paid. Teams can get players to play for a pittance in an effort for the player to reach their dreams.

  2. #42
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
    I believe that the anti-trust exemption will trump any wage claims made by the minor league players. Baseball will argue that a professional athlete is exempt from overtime pay,
    The issue is that minor league players have their rights and privileges being decided by two groups conspiring without their representation to suppress their wages. They are using monopolistic privileges to strip players of negotiating power and employment rights. There is choice in signing that initial contract, but that doesn't mean there isn't a violation happening ethically and legally.

    The current anti-trust exemption was even waived by Clinton in regards to team rights over players after the union broke the reserve clause decades ago. Except that clause still exists for minor leaguers. It is being inaccurately and unfairly presented that the MLB player's union is watching out for minor leaguers where in fact they are using them as negotiating leverage. (Or as a point to concede in exchange for ownership concessions)

    Until MiLB players are fairly represented by the union there is, in my opinion, a violation happening here that can and should be pursued. Regardless their "choice" is irrelevant to the conversation.

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
    Well, it's clear you've done your homework. So you can probably answer the following questions with similar assurance:

    1) What percentage of the minor leaguers' have received substantial (plus 100k) signing bonuses? More over, the career of an average minor leaguer results in how many years? And if we pro-rate that bonus over those years and combine it with their paid wage do we indeed get that living wage?

    2) Do you discount the local benefit of more living wages within local communities? Why burden local families when empty apartments and homes could be filled on a consistent basis, year after year? (And more whatever consumer benefit each individual adds.) That's straight liquid dollars in often struggling communities.

    3) Do you think the notions of labor shortage\surplus change when there's industry wide collusion (there's only competition for top level talent (the signing bonus babies), it takes so many more players to field a team, for whom there is no bonus)? Do you think the union favors contracts that pay a great deal to a few or spreading wealth to as many players as possible? Which method makes more social economic sense, and which makes specific individuals (agents, elite players, owners, executives) more money?

    4) If the economic conditions dictate that another human being must live with a host family to pursue a career in ticketed entertainment (baseball, or such), is such entertainment (or wage) ethical in a civilized society?
    Not ALL draft picks walk around with a hundred grand check in their pocket. But those that sign for more than $20 grand can probably endure a couple of years in minor league hell.

    Also, out of the nearly 200 players that each team's minor league system holds, at least 1/4 of them are phased out every year and a good many don't advance beyond rookie ball, let alone A-ball (three years at the most out for the majority of players).

    I'm not totally sure that players are required to punch the clock at certain hours, and their days spent at the ballpark may be a combination of having a place to hang and time needed to train and get ready for work at the end of the day (similar to say theater artists who spend loads of time rehearsing and then the days shorten when you have actual performances -- you still have to prep and get ready, but your 8-10-12 (with breaks) rehearsals days are no more.

    Beyond major league ball, how many guys are performing in the indy leagues for even less monies.

    And you can't easily work a second job and play ball in the summer months. Just ain't happening.

    Plus it is probably cheaper overall to stay in a room with a host family than even rent a combined apartment with 3-4 other guys. Especially minor league ball where you need only temporary housing and maybe 30% of the players do change clubs during the season.

    Yes, it would be fine if they were paid more for better lodging and even food monies. I would hate to be a young guy with a wife and/or kids. But it is a dream.

    The longer you play in the minors, the more money you can make chasing that major league dollar. But, wow, Chris Colabello probably made more money in his short stint this season alone with the Twins than he did in his total decade in the Indy Leagues.

    Ask him if it was worth it in the end.

    I myself wanted to be an actor. Had to choose between the free (or my cost for living expenses) with the bigtime summer theatre, or a modestly paid gig (with room and board provided). One got me thru the summer easier. The other might have advanced a career faster.

    Football and basketball use the colleges more for development. Baseball and hockey do not. If baseball eliminated the first two years and paid their players to go to college, would it cost them more or less.

    But, yes, in the end agree that the players as a whole do need to be paid a comfortable wage to get sleep, eat well, and develop their skills. It shouldn't be a hardship. But that is what the up-front bonus money is for. Does the guy who gets a hundred grand and blows his knee or arm out in season one give any of the money back? Is major league baseball a non-profit venture that subsidizes ball teams. What do the rookie ball players actually get paid before their DSL/GCL seasons beginn

    Maybe every ballteam needs a corresponding hotel attached to it where players stay dorm style and eat like they would in a college environs.
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  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
    Well, it's clear you've done your homework. So you can probably answer the following questions with similar assurance:

    1) What percentage of the minor leaguers' have received substantial (plus 100k) signing bonuses? More over, the career of an average minor leaguer results in how many years? And if we pro-rate that bonus over those years and combine it with their paid wage do we indeed get that living wage?

    2) Do you discount the local benefit of more living wages within local communities? Why burden local families when empty apartments and homes could be filled on a consistent basis, year after year? (And more whatever consumer benefit each individual adds.) That's straight liquid dollars in often struggling communities.

    3) Do you think the notions of labor shortage\surplus change when there's industry wide collusion (there's only competition for top level talent (the signing bonus babies), it takes so many more players to field a team, for whom there is no bonus)? Do you think the union favors contracts that pay a great deal to a few or spreading wealth to as many players as possible? Which method makes more social economic sense, and which makes specific individuals (agents, elite players, owners, executives) more money?

    4) If the economic conditions dictate that another human being must live with a host family to pursue a career in ticketed entertainment (baseball, or such), is such entertainment (or wage) ethical in a civilized society?

    1. There is no such thing as a "living wage". Employers do not control a person's life. They cannot tell an employee when to have children. Where to live. What to buy. Whom or when to marry. A living wage implies control over another person's life. That is also called slavery.

    2. Something that is willingly exchanged is not a burden. So, the local families that host players are not "burdened". They provide these services for a variety of reasons, including financial.

    3. There isn't collusion. The law is clear, when certain issues are negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement: drafts, bonus structure, minor league free agency, wage structures, that such market limiting issues can exist. This has been tested in the court, over and over again. It isn't going to change.

    4. You can decide what is fair or unfair, JUST AS the minor league players did. No one forced them to become minor league baseball players. No one forced them to sign a professional baseball contract. But, when they did they determined that given all of their other alternatives the baseball contract WAS FAIR, by definition. If it was not, then they would have not signed the contract and chosen an alternative. THIS IS THE FACT OF EVERY ECONOMIC TRANSACTION. You consider your alternatives and choose the best one for you.

  5. #45
    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    You know, mlhouse, you make a lot of good legalistic arguments -- ones I'm sure mlb will make.

    They totally ignore the morality of the situation and what I, as a fan, expect from a sport I love.

    MLB can do better. I hope they will.

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  7. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    The issue is that minor league players have their rights and privileges being decided by two groups conspiring without their representation to suppress their wages. They are using monopolistic privileges to strip players of negotiating power and employment rights. There is choice in signing that initial contract, but that doesn't mean there isn't a violation happening ethically and legally.

    The current anti-trust exemption was even waived by Clinton in regards to team rights over players after the union broke the reserve clause decades ago. Except that clause still exists for minor leaguers. It is being inaccurately and unfairly presented that the MLB player's union is watching out for minor leaguers where in fact they are using them as negotiating leverage. (Or as a point to concede in exchange for ownership concessions)

    Until MiLB players are fairly represented by the union there is, in my opinion, a violation happening here that can and should be pursued. Regardless their "choice" is irrelevant to the conversation.
    Again, these rights and privileges are subject to a labor agreement reached in a collective bargaining agreement between the employers and the player union. Almost all of the "monopolistic" issues are covered by the agreements, and hence, the players "individual rights" are moot.

    For a new employee of major league baseball and a new employee at a unionized automobile plant the issues are both the same. In a sense, for the employee it is a take it or leave it proposition. The starting wages and work rules have been predetermined by other people. You can accept those rules/wages/benefits or you can choose another option.

    That only leaves wage and hour issues to settle with the minor league players. I think the preponderance of evidence supports the employers side in this. A baseball player is paid a salary that is not subject to normal definitions of hours and overtime. For example, consider a game that goes into extra innings........it is a game.

    But, you never know with judges. A lot of the challenges to professional sport employment issues were originally decided by lower courts the opposite way that appeals courts have ruled (the appeals court rulings have always been consistent with more robust legal precedence). So, I would not be surprised if the minor league players win the on the first level of the case (they obviously have judge shopped).

    The one avenue of approach that I would try (and I am not sure if it has been attempted or if they are looking at this in this lawsuit) is to try to split the major and minor league. I would argue that for the minor league players that never received a signing bonus, that they are not employees of the major league team and that they are not subject to the same work and compensation rules of major league baseball. I doubt it would work, but that gives them some hope.

  8. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
    You know, mlhouse, you make a lot of good legalistic arguments -- ones I'm sure mlb will make.

    They totally ignore the morality of the situation and what I, as a fan, expect from a sport I love.

    MLB can do better. I hope they will.
    Morality? When someone decides to willingly exchange their labor services to an employer that willing agrees to pay them for those services, how much more moral can it be?

  9. #48
    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
    Morality? When someone decides to willingly exchange their labor services to an employer that willing agrees to pay them for those services, how much more moral can it be?
    "willingly" is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to doing something you love and the opportunities are severely limited by a monopoly.

  10. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
    "willingly" is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to doing something you love and the opportunities are severely limited by a monopoly.
    If I want to be a manager at Target I have to go up the ladder too. If you want to be a doctor you have to go to medical school, most likely live in similar poverty, and work even more insane hours.

    That there is a "monopoly" is immaterial. If you want to play professional baseball you have to play for a professional baseball team. And if that is what a professional baseball team will offer you to play professional baseball, you can take it or leave it. The guys at the higher end of the food chain can negotiate the signing bonuses. The guys at the bottom cannot. They are only worth the minor league contract, nothing more or nothing less.

    And the "dream" is what is valuable to them so if that is what they want then that is the consequences of their own choices.

  11. #50
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
    Again, these rights and privileges are subject to a labor agreement reached in a collective bargaining agreement between the employers and the player union. Almost all of the "monopolistic" issues are covered by the agreements, and hence, the players "individual rights" are moot.
    Except the player's union is exclusively interested in major league players, not the minor leaguers. There is no representation of that faction and they are subject to a clause that is only allowed because of the anti-trust exemption. The very same clause was negotiated out for major league players in collective bargaining and the exemption no longer applies.

    Until there is actual representation and negotiation on behalf of minor leaguers, they are working as indentured servants because of a perfect storm of legal protections, union inadequacy, public indifference, and ownership greed. Splitting the players union to minors/majors would probably set off some alarm bells in a good way. These kinds of court cases might be rallying points to do that as well.

    Lawsuits like this may or may not prevail ultimately - but they will expose all of these unfair/illegal practices coming together to create this situation. That can only lead to better things for minor league players.

  12. #51
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    I don't know about all the legal or "moral" issues here. Sometimes that is in the eye of the beholder. One thing I would point out is if the cost of running the minors is raised, things will likely change in ways that might not benefit everyone. Right now, the Twins have quite a few more minor leaguers under contract than positions available. Many are at extended spring training. Should it become more expensive to sign so many minor leaguers, some teams could reduce the number of players, maybe even the number of teams. After all, many late round signings and many foreign signings are of marginal prospects, who really have little chance of ever making the majors. This becomes a cost/benefit issue. Why sign a bunch of guys who have little chance of ever playing in the majors if the total cost starts becoming significant?

    The only problem with that of course, is that sometimes marginal signings become real prospects. Josmil Pinto for example. It might be too bad if fewer marginal talents get chances in to play at all or have shorter leashes to show what they might develop into.

  13. #52
    Remember that most of these guys range in age from 17 to 22. This is their first real job. And if you put it into the context that they have spend their days playing high school and college ball and have a limited amount of time then to even hold a minimal parttime job. This is a summer job where you are paid survival wages to play ball ALL day. You don't have to spend 10 hours at the ballpark, but you can. You can workout, maybe eat on the club's dime, play catch, hit balls, talk baseball 24/7. With your pay you have to rent someplace to stay and put gas in your car if you choose to have round around Elizabethton TN, for example. But it is a summer job. Come September, you have choices of playing more ball (maybe for free or in a foreign country or maybe not for free) or doing something else. You do get paid a bit mroe as you go up the ladder, but IT IS TRAINING for te potential real thing. Ywa, maybe if everyone was paid 2-grand a month, or 3-grand, the lines would be so long.

    But the way ,major league abseball is pretty much setup, you have 1-2 years to prove that you have potential to MAYBE play in the bigs. Then you have to worry about a bad year or injury the next 3-6 years, and if you rise thru the system , maybe even get one of the coveted 40-man spots, you do make real money. It is my understanding that six-year free agents make considerably more if they are still playing AAA ball and get a minor league contract with a team. And there are so many places that produce players even more cheaply. The room and board of the domician league, the indy leagues where players play to get that $1,000 a month contract with the pros, the guys who play townball and show up at tryout camps, the players that do high school and college camps, the players that stay on for the fall instructional league, or play in the Arizona leagues.

    I love to see people make money, from those working on straight commission in so many industries (compared to an often higher hourly wage) to those that perform on street corners with a hat out, to daycare producers and home heath care attendents. You think guys lovel playing arena football or football in Italy, or basketball in Australia, or doing $25 wrestling gigs in small towns?

    In some ways, you are keeping the pay at the level that is keeping players from over spending and just focusing on the career and the dream.

    If there is an issue, I still wonder about giving guys such lavish bonus money. If someone gave me a million dollars at age 20 to continue to learn my craft...I would be set for life, if I succeed or fail. Even a hundred grand, even 50-grand to pursue my dreams for a couple of years. It doesn't matter then if I win or lose, I had a decent life doing what I love doing.

    It's a cutthroat biz. Think back to your high school years. How many guys and all sports made it anywhere on a college team sophmore or above. In college, any names from the sports teams of your 4-5 years there make it into the pro leagues.

    It's like the straight-A honors student going to college full of other similar students and then those students, the top of the great minds class, vying for a job against all the other top performers in their fields. You still have to pay dues, even if you are smart and bright, too. Some get recruited, some get internships, some start at the bottom or middle level. But we all have dreams and can be easily exploited because of that...but we go along with being exploited.
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  14. #53
    Senior Member Triple-A Paul Pleiss's Avatar
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    While living in Seattle, I noticed, one afternoon, a bunch of protesters gathering on the corner of my street with signs and creating a big hullabaloo as they prepared to go do something civicly inclined. I cracked a beer and went out to my balcony to investigate. I asked what was going on and what all the fuss was about. Their head honcho told me that they were going to pickett a restaurant down the block that wasn't paying their employees enough (although they were paying above minimum wage). My thought on this was "If they're not paying their employees enough, those employees should seek work elsewhere."

    After reading through this thread, I feel that mlhouse brings a lot of good points, points that line up with my sentiments about the restaurant workers above. But this is baseball, a game making billions, and I feel like it would be easy for them to make changes to significantly improve the minor league lifestyle. I WANT baseball to do better by the players toiling in the minor leagues. I want them to take care of those guys who are giving so much of their youth to pursuit of their dreams, but I'm not sure they HAVE to.

    Not paying players who are at extended spring training or spring training seems like a bad maneuver for the big league ball clubs. There is clearly room for MLB to give a little more on this without having to spend money. But are they legally required to do so? That's a question for the courts to decide. I hope for the best for the players.

  15. #54
    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
    Remember that most of these guys range in age from 17 to 22. This is their first real job.
    But isn't that really a reason for the ballclubs to act more "in loco parentis" and to provide something like the new Twins academy at entry levels -- guaranteeing better nutrition, adequate housing, etc.

    Then perhaps a stipend to the minor league affiliates at a little higher level (e.g. A level ball to help them provide a better experience at that level -- I applaud CR for its program but some help from the Twins on the nutrition front would undoubtedly be welcome.)

    Then to look at somewhat better pay at the AA and AAA levels. Some of these players are bonus babies and will soon be in the bigs and won't need the higher pay.

    But a lot of them are journeymen who are needed to keep the clubs and the entire milb system operating (especially at AAA).

  16. #55
    We are having discussions along this line in the Twin Cities actor community...this article shares some similar concerns that ball players may have - http://minnesotaplaylist.com/magazin...e-woman-debate

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    [QUOTE=mlhouse;239511]If I want to be a manager at Target I have to go up the ladder too.

    If you want to be a doctor you have to go to medical school, most likely live in similar poverty, and work even more insane hours.

    That there is a "monopoly" is immaterial.
    QUOTE]

    "If I want to be a manager at Target I have to go up the ladder too". True, but you will, by law make more than minimum wage while working your way up

    "If you want to be a doctor you have to go to medical school, most likely live in similar poverty, and work even more insane hours" True, but most people in school can live on loans and finance their life while in school. A lot higher percentage complete med school than go from rookie league to the big leagues. They can also make $30K+ a year in residency, then six figures when they are done.

    "That there is a "monopoly" is immaterial" A monopoly is material, especially when making free market arguments.

    By this logic, I should be able to open a tire manufacturing plant. Pay people a dollar a day and provide one meal a day as long as I promise that 15% percent or so will make some decent amount of money in like 8 years. As long as I could fill as many positions I wanted, that would be OK because they are "Choosing to do this"

    My personal opinion is that this arrangment of paying somone 1,100 a month (pre housing, etc.) to work 80-100 hours a week as well as the NCAA not paying their employees will be a thing of the past in 3-5 years, probably sooner. People are being taken advantage of and minimum wage is being skirted. Especially in the case of 16-17 year old international players. I think we are better than this.

  18. #57
    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    The issue is that minor league players have their rights and privileges being decided by two groups conspiring without their representation to suppress their wages. They are using monopolistic privileges to strip players of negotiating power and employment rights. There is choice in signing that initial contract, but that doesn't mean there isn't a violation happening ethically and legally.

    The current anti-trust exemption was even waived by Clinton in regards to team rights over players after the union broke the reserve clause decades ago. Except that clause still exists for minor leaguers. It is being inaccurately and unfairly presented that the MLB player's union is watching out for minor leaguers where in fact they are using them as negotiating leverage. (Or as a point to concede in exchange for ownership concessions)

    Until MiLB players are fairly represented by the union there is, in my opinion, a violation happening here that can and should be pursued. Regardless their "choice" is irrelevant to the conversation.
    Yep. Imagine a "union" whose only representatives and voting blocs are executive level management, a highly-paid group that make up only 5-10% of the total workforce. Naturally, those executives look out for their own interests and pay the 90-95% of the unrepresented workforce little or no attention.

    As a factory floor worker who was drafted into and contractually bound to that single factory, how would that make you feel?

    Minor league players have no representation, are legally bound to their franchise (they can not go play in an independent league, in Korea/Japan/wherever), and are paid peanuts.

    It's a grossly unfair system and has nothing to do with the "free market" because these workers aren't free in the first place. They can't go play baseball anywhere else after they're drafted and they have zero input on who drafts them at all.

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  20. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
    "If I want to be a manager at Target I have to go up the ladder too". True, but you will, by law make more than minimum wage while working your way up.
    Or you can go work for Wal-Mart.

    Oh, wait, that's right... Drafted minor leaguers can't go play for another league. They are the property of their drafting organization.

    That analogy is completely inapplicable because the majority of minor leaguers have no options other than "take what we give you or leave baseball entirely". Those are some pretty awful options and don't sound much like a "free market" to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    It's a grossly unfair system and has nothing to do with the "free market" because these workers aren't free in the first place. They can't go play baseball anywhere else after they're drafted and they have zero input on who drafts them at all.
    Just to offer up the counter argument that is probably being typed now, then to refute it....

    They are "free" to go into another line of work. They could become waiters, roofers, or accountants. All three of those jobs as well as every other job is protected by a minimum wage that sets a floor at which a person must be paid. Minor leagers are paid well under this floor. At a minimum they should be paid up to this amount.

    Federal and state laws also stipulate employees must be compensated for travel times to and from work as well as a portion of their time traveling. So apply this to MILB players on top of the time at practice, BP, games, video, working out, etc. Their pay would go up dramatically, as it should.

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    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
    Just to offer up the counter argument that is probably being typed now, then to refute it....

    They are "free" to go into another line of work. They could become waiters, roofers, or accountants. All three of those jobs as well as every other job is protected by a minimum wage that sets a floor at which a person must be paid. Minor leagers are paid well under this floor. At a minimum they should be paid up to this amount.

    Federal and state laws also stipulate employees must be compensated for travel times to and from work as well as a portion of their time traveling. So apply this to MILB players on top of the time at practice, BP, games, video, working out, etc. Their pay would go up dramatically, as it should.
    Anyone is free to go into any line of work. That line of reasoning is a dangerous slope here as employers can band together to restrict wages and justify it with this very reason... and I'd add that any employer can essentially do this. This is why anti-trust legislation is in place. Baseball has an anti-trust exemption because they have a union that collectively bargains wages... however, the union isn't representing the players.

    The issue here is not whether or not a minor league ball player can find work in another field. The issue here is whether or not these guys are being compensated fairly for what they do and whether or not the organization collectively bargaining on their behalf is representing their interests. This is very little different from what the NCAA is doing to college football players right now.

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