Braves: Just pay the damn players!

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There’s a ton of stuff in the works, but this is what is really getting under my skin. The owners are reneging on the original deal when the players already agreed to a cut. The players are the ones in the spotlight, and it’s evident the owners are attempting to make them out as the bad guys. The only leverage the owners were going to have to give up in the original deal outside of the revenue loss from ticket sales was an extra year of service time. That’s it! A year closer to a better pension plan. I’m not sure what changed, but the owners would be absolutely nothing without the players.

Fans don’t go to Truist Park to watch the grass grow and pay $11 for a beer. The A’s just announced they aren’t paying their minor leaguers a meager $400 a week stipend starting in June. There are roughly 150 players on Oakland’s minor league roster (not including the 40-man). These billionaires somehow can’t manage about $780k until the end of the minor league season for these guys who are criminally underpaid anyways. They’ve also been notified they aren’t allowed to pursue work elsewhere or they will lose their roster spot.

I’m a firm believer in earning your keep — nobody owes you anything no matter how much money they have, but I’m also a firm believer in taking care of your people. Their empire was built on the backs and hard work of these guys — the longer this goes on, the worse it’s going to get for everyone involved. I’m on the side of the players. I wouldn’t want to come to work for 1/4 of my guaranteed salary. You can’t reasonably call the players selfish for playing for what still amounts to very good money when their trust has been betrayed, and they’re being lowballed. It isn’t about the money at this point — it’s the principle. The players in multiple organizations are stepping up and paying the salaries of minor league players. Even though it’s highly commendable, it’s something they shouldn’t have to do, and it’s an abysmal look for the owners

These billionaires aren’t going to make as much off their teams in 2020, no matter what. It’s a foregone conclusion, even if they started tomorrow with fans in attendance. What they are missing out on is a golden opportunity. Baseball has already started in Korea and has plans to begin in Japan. Major League owners had the chance to be heroes in this country. They could have been at the forefront of getting us back to normalcy, and they are failing miserably.

It begins at the top — Rob Manfred has proven that he’s completely incompetent and unfit to be the commissioner of our game. He has to manage this situation; it is approaching 1994 levels of ugly. Every day the damage done to baseball worsens. Lifelong fans — including myself — are losing interest fast. If this goes into the summer, the NBA, NHL, and NFL will grab America’s attention. Nobody will care about baseball, and they shouldn’t.

It’s just woeful we have to watch the owners squabble over peanuts to them, and the real losers are the fans and players trying to make it in this world. They had a fantastic opportunity to do something the league has been desperately attempting to do for YEARS — grow the fanbase. People are staying up until the break of dawn to watch KBO Baseball because they’re so starved for competition. So many new fans would be turned to what has become an even more wonderful game over the past few years, and by the time fans will be allowed back in stadiums, they’d see a considerable pulse in attendance. That sounds like a fantastic future investment to me.

While the NBA (who I was critical at first HEAVILY for their itchy trigger finger) has handled this very well, the MLB has done about as poor of a job as possible. Mike Francesa made an excellent point on how the Braves play into this

He’s entirely correct. For years the owners have cried poor, and nobody believes them, players included. They’ve fudged numbers and painted an incorrect picture for so long that nobody cares what the actual numbers are. They’re in the wrong here, and the fact that they refuse to admit it is even more maddening. Every day that drags on without baseball is doing permanent damage that may never be undone. It took a steroid-palooza post-1994 to get fans back involved. I applaud Tony Clark for standing firm with the players. They’re right, the owners are wrong.

I’d love to see stadiums across the country empty as a sign of protest for the minor league athletes. It won’t happen, but they’ve been treated so poorly in this whole situation. It’s time for baseball fans to hit owners in their pockets. With Manfred getting his wish and cutting a ton of minor league talent, he’s done a fantastic job of alienating small-town minor league fanbases. Now he’s got the lifelong diehard fans pissed off. He’s going to go down as the worst commissioner of any major American sport in history. He’s completely incompetent and cares nothing about the game or the fans — just lining his own pockets. As difficult as it’s been to grow the fanbase of the sport, Manfred may have finally sunk this ship — and the owners will be going down with him.

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