Steroids. Gambling Scandals. Sign Stealing. Player Strikes, and more. The game of baseball, and specifically the MLB, are no strangers to stirring up controversy, but today that was taken to a new level, which in my opinion is a new low for the sport. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan; hundreds of minor league baseball players were informed today that they would be released from their contracts, with hundreds more releases to come. Thousands of dreams have been crushed with a one sentence text or phone call, all so their owners can save the $400 each player was making weekly (less than US unemployment, which they cannot file for due to their line of work).
While other professional sports leagues around the world uniting together amidst a pandemic (the NHL unrolled its return plans this week, the NBA nears a return every day, the German Bundesliga has already returned, and the English Premier League and La Liga soccer leagues have announced their return dates are less than a month away) the MLB has once again stumbled ass backwards into a situation that makes them look terrible.
Across the different levels of minor league baseball the average salary for players ranges from a mere $6,000-$15,000. With the pay cuts currently happening due to the Coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on the world, it would cost each club approximately 1 million dollars each month to pay off their lower level players, who dedicate their entire lives to the game and sacrifice their time, money, and energy to chase their dreams in the game they love, and give them a livable wage in this desperate time. However today those players learned that the game, and more specifically the 30 team owners whose average net worth is ~2.5 billion dollars, doesn’t love them back.
The league has also shortened the amateur draft to five rounds in order to save money. That means that players who may have been drafted in rounds 6 through 10 will now go undrafted instead of signing to make anywhere between $140,000 to $300,000. With the shortened draft, those players will now only sign for the standard $20,000 that was negotiated for undrafted players in this year’s class. The entire beauty of baseball, that truly anyone can make it no matter where you were drafted so long as your work hard, has been destroyed by money and greed and is now gone for the time being. We won’t be seeing players like Nolan Ryan, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, John Smoltz, or Mike Piazza come from being drafted past the 10th round and working their way to legendary Hall of Fame careers happen in this draft class, and it is devastating to those who love the game.
At the major league level superstar players like Blake Snell, Marcus Stroman, and Max Scherzer have spoken publicly about the negotiations between players and owners in regards to pay for the potential season. As seemingly other sport nears a return to complete their seasons, baseball continuously moves backwards. If I were a betting man (which I am), there would be no smarter bet on the board than there being no professional baseball season this year.
And when that happens don’t blame the players, don’t blame the government, don’t blame social distancing or the coronavirus. Blame the owners who, time and time again, have never sacrificed anything to do what was right, or help somebody who wasn’t themselves.