In the 'clarion call' heard around the baseball world, MiLB VP Stan Brand was quoted in a story by Baseball America writer Josh Leventhal last week from the Winter Meetings. At the meetings, Brand made a fiery speech on the civil lawsuit being filed by several former minor league players against Major League Baseball which accuses MLB of "suppressing" income. While players seek to receive fairer wages, Brand announced he will petition congress to add minor league baseball to seasonal positions that aren't eligible for minimum wage or overtime pay. Members of the media (including Ben Badler and Emma Span) reacted with the same disbelief and frustration as many current, and former players, and fans.
Brand sounded like a super hero trying to slay the bad guys (Right):
One of the biggest misconceptions about drafted players is that they are all handed million dollar bonuses. They are not. Starling is an elite prospect who got first round money (he was selected in the first round, 5th overall, by the Kansas City Royals). The first reader to respond to Span's link & one-word reaction brings up an excellent point. And it's one that would be explored over the next few days.
Minor leaguers claims that they're treated unfairly is, not surprisingly, met with hostility and confusion. The perception of the reader that tells them to move over for the guy in line to take his place is the kind of vitriolic reaction that's always surprising. In any job, which is what minor league baseball is, you want to be payed fairly. But it's often difficult for fans to separate the big leagues from the minors. The latter aren't spoiled brats asking for millions of dollars. They're literally asking for minimum wage.
No one in the debate had a perfect answer. But the prevailing attitude was that MLB should be trying to find a better one. And Brand made clear that's not their intention. Players eventually got into the debate. And who better to speak on the life, the job, and the lawsuit? C.J. Wilson and Cody Decker expressed that side of the argument very directly. It's as simple as they're doing a job and yet they're being told they're threatening the system they work within. Meanwhile, most can't afford to live on their own. And many can't go back to finish their education because they can't afford it. They're left with the skill of playing baseball. Again, they're seeking fairer pay. Not a windfall.
Also included here is from the Baseball America report that seeks to explain the complexities of the lawsuit.
MLB and MiLB will likely be unmoved in their stance. But what this has done is shine light on the issue. We're able to see the attitude of the powers that be toward minor league players. And it could not more terrible. The PR angle was pointed out, and that's exactly right. Bad move. Perhaps this will also help to educate baseball fans unimpressed by the lawsuit. Maybe some will come to see that minor league players are the working class. Not spoiled children rolling in a pile of money. When Brand's petition reaches congress, the next phase of this will unfold. And perhaps then we'll have a new ballgame.