Guest Commentary - MLB Owners, Players Argue While Fans and Minor Leaguers Suffer

By Steve Lee | 

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred locked out MLB players from their facilities on December 31 due to the lack of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in place for the coming season(s). Owners then waited 45 days before even opening negotiations with their initial proposal for a new agreement. Now talks have broken down and Manfred has canceled the first six games of the upcoming season with many more likely to be canceled before a deal will be struck. 

The owners can weather the work stoppage as they made their money in numerous other endeavors that continue creating revenue during the lock-out. Gate receipts, concession and merchandise sales don’t really kick in in earnest until after Memorial Day when schools are out and families vacation. Players don’t get paid if there are no games.

Blame is to be shared by the players. The minimum wage in 2021 for a major league player was $570,500 for the six-month season. Owners have agreed to up this sum to $700,000 per year for 2022 with yearly increases for the length of the agreement. Players have refused, still asking for more. Pension plans and lifetime medical benefits for veteran players are already in place.

Mike Trout, perhaps the best player in the world today is scheduled to make $35,000,000 in 2022. That equates to over $216,000 per game! The highest-paid player today is Max Scherzer, who is scheduled to earn 43,300,000 this season which equates to over $267,000 per game, but as a pitcher he only plays in 35 games a season which equates to $1.237M per start! Both have made public claims that they are negotiating for the benefit of future generations. Interestingly, minor leaguers are covered by the same CBA as the major leaguers. Are Trout and Scherzer really negotiating for their benefit?

None of the sticking points of the current negotiations will benefit these young struggling players. The minimum wage for a minor league A-level player is $10,500 for five months of the season; AA players may earn as little as $12,600 for the season and AAA players (i.e. our Sacramento River Cats players) may earn as little as $14,700 for the season. MLB players aren’t even asking for a living wage for these struggling professionals. Increased salary for these players seems to never have even been discussed. Negotiating for the next generation? I don’t see it.

Just this off-season the owners for the first time unanimously agreed to pay for housing for these players. The total cost per club was less than one million dollars. To defray the cost of this added expense the owners cut 42 affiliates from their minor leagues, essentially making the game less accessible in smaller cities and sending over 1,000 players to the unemployment lines.

Greed rules the game on both sides. Fans get screwed out of a full season of the national pastime. Eventually, a new CBA will be agreed to and play will resume. 

The result; fans will pay increasingly high ticket prices and $20 beers and $18 hot dogs are around the corner. Someone has to pay for the new agreement. Fans will get screwed again.

A lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, Steve Lee is a treasure trove of MLB baseball statistics and history

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Maybe the players and owners will come to their senses and soon realize that their beloved sport, and all sports for that matter, are essentially entertainment and they are mere entertainers.

Similar to Hollywood actors or game show contestants, athletes exist merely for the entertainment of viewers. Not to diminish the concept of competition, but whether you win the Family Feud, Super Bowl, or Academy Award, the game is ruled by economics and viewership ratings. Meanwhile, there are people in America struggling to make ends meet, put a roof over their head, or care for the sick, so with a sigh of disgust I say--play ball!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Must be nice to live in a free world of luxury, getting paid hundreds millions of dollars to play a game of which young boys and girls can only dream.

Shame all the MLB owners and players while bombs are going off in Ukraine killing other young children who have those same dreams.

I was brought up to love the game my Dad played. So disgusted with MLB!

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