Saturday, December 6, 2014

Salaries


They're so happy. For now.

In the past I've mentioned how major league baseball teams like to keep minor league baseball salaries very low and how a lot of players in the minors tend to get screwed over financially. I'm bringing this grim truth up again because Andrew Miller of Baseball Essential posted an absolutely great piece on MiLB wages. If you haven't read it yet I'd highly recommend it, even if you don't care about minor league baseball I'd still recommend it. It covers a lot of topics like from how difficult it is for a lot of minor leaguers to make ends meet, first hand accounts of having to secure places to live during the season and surviving the offseason, and it completely breaks the false perception many of us have of minor league baseball players and the life they lead.

Without giving too much away I wanted to share some highlights from the article that I found noteworthy and very interesting.
"Many players have to pick up a job in the off-season, or work at camps sponsored by the team, just to make some extra money to survive off of. The players are at the stadium upwards of 12 hours a day, which makes it difficult for them to pick up a second true job during the season."
Although most of us don't know or see it, a vast majority of minor leaguers really struggle to make ends meet. The article mentions that a LOT of minor leaguers get paid below the poverty line and earn less than what fast food workers make in a single year.
Now because their "day-job" won't keep food on the table or keep the roof over their heads, a lot of minor leaguers have to spend their offseason working extra jobs. I follow almost every minor league baseball player in the Yankees organization on Twitter and I've seen a bunch of players say that they're offering lessons during the offseason to kids. Most of whom are players who were drafted in the lower rounds of the draft.


I'd also like to point out that while these players were offering their services for money, some top draft picks drafted in the the first round were tweeting about the newest iPhone they got (this was around the iPhone 6/6+'s release day).
I bring it up because it shows the disparity between the players who get the huge signing bonuses and the rest of the draftees who don't.

"Besides a formal salary, the players also receive money for food, which restricts them to certain options."
This quote refers to $25 that teams give their players for food every week during the regular season and the article goes on to say that those "certain options" are limited to fast food and that eating fast food drives trainers nuts.
I found this particularly interesting because you'd think that teams would be a lot more cautious with the diets and eating habits their players have. I'm sure that every organization views their minor leaguers as nothing more than cattle assets (remember baseball is nothing more than a business) but I had assumed that, like any business, those organizations would keep their assets in the best shape possible so they have as much value as they can possible have. Guess not.
And yes I'm aware that you can still have a healthy diet with only $25 per week, but remember that these minor leaguers are getting paid peanuts and need to save as much money as possible, and I'm sure that that includes making sure that they leave as much of that $25 left unspent as possible.

"In an effort to combat the pay scale, in April 2014, a lawsuit filed on behalf of 20 players against Major League Baseball and Bud Selig was filed. The claim is that Major League Baseball is violating many state and federal labor laws, including investigation that the amount they receive annually from baseball is below the poverty line, which violates many federal laws as an employer."

Here's the big one to me.
According to this Forbes article from 2013, Major League Baseball is a $8 billion industry thanks to television revenue. And that value will continue to rise as more and more teams sign lucrative TV deals that give team owners more money in their pockets.
I find it somewhat baffling that despite all that revenue going to pretty much everybody (including the small market teams), minor league baseball players suffer the most and get the short stick. The players union doesn't cover the minor league players so they're left unprotected and left to fend for themselves against a system that's basically looking to screw them over in every conceivable way. Unfortunately I don't really see any changes being implemented to benefit the minor leaguers. Every corrupt system has a way of keeping itself corrupt.
I guess this is fitting in a way though, our society claims to care about the future and yet there are numerous flaws of our education system and nothing is really done about it. Symbolism!

Anyway, I'm sure that you could do a lot worse in life than being a minor league baseball player who didn't get a big signing bonus and is getting paid the minor league minimum (especially in today's economy), but at the same time I think it's interesting how we tend to think of athletes as being overpaid (because owners can never be overpaid or too rich right?) people that live fabulous lifestyles and yet there are those who are worse off than most of the collectors in the baseball card hobby.

If you decide to read the article I linked (here it is again) and have your own thoughts and opinions on the matter let me know.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

8 comments:

  1. It's tough to make a living as a pro baseball player who realistically has good of a chance to make it to the Major Leagues as you or I, but the guys should be doing something else if they aren't cut out to slave away in the minors.

    MLB teams are not going to invest in every rank-and-file ballplayer signed to a pro contract and see most as guys who may play in the minor league system so that the prospects have other guys to play with.

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    1. They are doing something. Both I and the article I linked to explicitly stated that these players get jobs in the offseason to make ends meet. It's not like these guys are just sitting around complaining.

      And like I said in this post, I'm not expecting see the salaries that these minor leaguers get rise any time soon. I was just stating that this is the grim reality for a lot of players in the minors.

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  2. I remember watching a show on a host family that took in Hispanic Pirate players at AA Altoona. It showed how much the players relied on the family for everything from food to transportation. These guys had no money and were 1000's of miles from home. The system makes it hard on these guys. Great post.

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    1. I may have to track down that show/episode it sounds fascinating.
      Oh man, I'd love to get an international prospect's perspective on the way things are. If domestic players struggle to get by financially I can only imagine how much harder it must be for the international guys.

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  3. Wow, this is crazy. I read it over my morning coffee. I feel for these guys.

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    1. I can understand why former players sometimes feel like the organization they were in didn't have their best interests at heart.

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  4. I agree, very good post. I've watched a couple minor league baseball documentaries and I always find them fascinating, but only one that I have seen has shown a glimpse of the financial side of trying to make it the big leagues. I tried to google it and remember which one it was, but I couldn't find it, sorry.
    Someday down the road I would like to be a host family and help a player or two out.

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    1. I'd love to be a host family as well. I gotta get to work on my Spanish and cooking. Oh and starting a family.

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