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Thanks To San Francisco Giants’ Alyssa Nikken, Women Coaching In MLB Is More Possible Than Ever

On April 12, San Francisco Giants’ first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected from the game. In his place step assistant coach Alyssa Nikken, who became the first woman to coach in a Major League Baseball game. The historic achievement drew praise and hope for more women roles down the line.

Baseball Field

As Major League Baseball Continues To Negotiate A New CBA, Is A Lockout On The Horizon?

Despite the Atlanta Braves capping off the 2021 season with a World Series victory, the games are just beginning for Major League Baseball. On Dec. 2, the collective bargaining agreement — frequently referred to as the CBA — is set to expire, and many believe the league will be heading to its first stoppage in 26 years.

According to the Associated Press’ Ronald Blum, while negotiations between MLB owners and the MLB Players’ Association (MLBPA) have been taking place since last spring, each side believes the other has not made a proposal that would bring in a new CBA contract by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1.

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The stoppage would come at a crucial time, as free agents — which include stars such as Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, and Max Scherzer — would be left in a flux, and their agents aren’t quite sure what to expect. Blum explained MLB could start a signing freeze at the beginning of the lockout, or let the marketplace stop on its own.

Among the changes teams have suggested in proposals leading up to now include getting rid of salary arbitration — the yearly process where clubs and players negotiate a higher or lower salary based on recent comparable players and contracts — and allowing players to hit free agency after the age of 29 1/2, instead of after six years of service.

Meanwhile, propositions made by players include establishing mechanisms — such as a modified draft order and a revenue sharing system — that prevent teams from “tanking,” changing the way service time is calculated, increasing the minimum major league salary (which currently sits at $570,500), and changing the years required for arbitration eligibility from three to two.

Players also want payrolls to be taxed over $210 million while including surtaxes, and have rejected a payroll floor over the fear of a salary cap introduction. Blum notes that management’s proposal for the threshold to be lowered to $180 million could be a gridlock in many free agent negotiations.

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While the lockout could cause chaos in free agency, there isn’t any concern that games could be missed in either spring training or the regular season, which is still six months away. However, depending on how long the lockout lasts, teams could be forced to hurry up their typical offseason schedules and procedures.

In 2021, the average player salary was $4.17 million, and is projected to be down around $3.7 million on opening day of 2022. Meanwhile, the average MLB team’s payroll in 2021 was $99,423,297.

MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike, when the last 50 games of the regular season and the postseason were cancelled – however, there have been close calls when it’s come to CBA agreements deadlines.

Fans have also questioned MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s job security as the league heads towards a likely freeze. CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry explains that the only way Manfred — just the 10th MLB commissioner ever – could lose the role is if he loses money for owners.

While highly unlikely, this could happen through multiple situations, such as “failing to maintain or carve out new economic territory” during CBA negotiations or in a new agreement.

MLB To Test New Experimental Rules In Minor Leagues

Robot umpires and larger bases are just some of the major changes the MLB will be testing out.

Baseball Stadium

Supreme Court Denies MLB Request To Dismiss Pay Increase Lawsuit With Minor Leagues

On Monday the Supreme Court denied Major League Baseball’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of minor league players who are seeking compensation for past hours already worked. The case of Senne versus the Royals was originally filed back in 2014 on behalf of former minor league player Aaron Senne, who aimed to bring in thousands of past and present players to receive compensation for spring training that they were denied or paid salaries that were below the poverty line. 

Garrett Broshuis is the attorney and former minor league player who filed the initial lawsuit, and recently claimed that there’s “no reason for players to be making $7,500 or $8,000 for the year.” 

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“The ultimate goal is pretty simple: to get MLB to comply with the same laws that Walmart and McDonald’s comply with. Whenever they ask players to go to spring training, they should be paying their employees for it.”

This is a longstanding issue within minor league baseball. Players are often paid below minimum wage for their given numbers of hours worked. If the minor league season wasn’t cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, players who were considered to be Triple-A players were projected to be paid  $700 per week played, Double-A players $600, Class A players $500 and Rookie League and short-season players $400. Lower-level players in 2019 earned about $290 a week and even with some players receiving raises, some were paid less than $5,000 for a full season; a staggering amount when compared to their major league counterparts. 

In August 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action suit which would allow former players to seek back pay that they are owed from previous seasons, and current players to receive compensation for the hours worked before the seasons cancellation. 

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The main issue lies in the minimum wage payments for these players. Back in 2018 lawmakers included the Save America’s Pastime Act in a $1.3 trillion spending bill. By including the Pastime Act in this bill, minor league players were directly stripped of their minimum wage protections, meaning their management could legally get away with paying them as little as they wanted. According to Broshuis, players typically are working 60 hours a week during an active season, and the law passing meant players could only be paid minimum wage for 40 hours a week.

“The law called for them to be paid minimum wage for 40 hours a week irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball-related activities. The Save America’s Pastime Act was a horrible act, it was a misnomer. There was never a need for it.”

The Ninth Circuit ruling allowed players located in California, Arizona, and Florida to join the class lawsuit. These states are the homes of dozens of minor league teams and spring training facilities. No players, including major league, are paid for their spring training, however, MLB players are able to negotiate a salary through the MLB Players Association, the minor league teams don’t have any sort of union in place to help them negotiate potential payments. 

The Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and Minor League Baseball expired at the end of September this year, meaning the MLB will now likely take control over the minor leagues. This will potentially lead to a merger of unions as well and could give the minor league players the chance at renegotiating their working arrangements for future seasons.

Baseball Player

MLB Postseason Games Will Be Played At Bubble Site

MLB has revealed this week that the World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers new ballpark in Arlington, Texas. The division series, league championship series, and World Series will all be a part of the bubble experience in Texas as a means of reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure. This is the first time the World Series will be played in its entirety at one location since 1944. 

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was recently interviewed by the Associated Press following the announcement on Tuesday, where he claimed MLB was already happy with the players responses to the health and safety protocols they’ve endured throughout this season, but this will make the entire staff working for the league feel even more secure. 

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“The elimination of travel is obviously positive because it cuts exposure. Less interaction outside with the group that you’re looking to protect is a huge positive.”

After playing the entire season in empty stadiums, MLB is also hoping by remaining in one remote location they’ll be able to reopen their doors to fill the ballparks at 25% distanced capacity. Other adjustments include the elimination of off days for the division and league championship series’. This decision is projected to impact each team’s decision making in regards to how many pitchers they’ll carry out for postseason games. 

The postseason also expanded from 10 to 16 days, and will begin with the top four seeds in each league that’s been hosting a wild-card series in their regular-season home ballparks. The final eight teams will shift to the bubble environments, according to union head Tony Clark. 

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“The agreement attempts to balance players’ experiences and concerns while making the accommodations necessary to best ensure a safe, healthy, and successful conclusion to the 2020 season.”

The AL Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League Championship Series at Globe Life. The AL Division Series will be at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. There’s no concrete plan to invite fans back into the stadiums for these series, but it is a goal nonetheless. 

MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem recently sent a memo to all teams where he claimed that the players’ association were “in the process of finalizing details of the agreements” which includes testing players daily during the postseason. 

During the transition period between the regular season and postseason, any player who lives by themselves, or with a spouse/partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs may quarantine at home as long as they receive special documentation from a physician.

Only spouses, domestic partners, children, and child-care providers are allowed to stay with players while they quarantine during the transition period, according to Halem, and family members will not be allowed to enter the bubble site hotels unless they complete a supervised week-long quarantine period. 

Players can, however, have up to 6 family members stay at separate “family hotels” located at four various sites near the stadium.

Baseball Stadium

MLB Plans To Show Support For ‘Black Lives Matter’ Throughout 2020 Season

Major League Baseball made it’s return this week and it’s putting one of the biggest social justice movements in US history at the forefront of its condensed season. MLB players will be putting the Black Lives Matter movement at center stage as they play for crowdless arenas in the coming weeks. 

Due to Covid-19 concerns, MLB has spent the past few months trying to plan the most effective way to continue with the 2020 season while keeping all employees and players safe. After weeks of deliberation the sporting league was able to finalize plans for the season that’s starting this week. 

The Black Lives Matter “BLM” logo is now accompanying the MLB one on the pitcher’s mound. This Thursday fans at home watched the Washington Nationals Play the Los Angeles Dodgers with the logo freshly painted on the mound for all to see. The Tampa Bay Rays tweeted on Thursday in solidarity with the movement, specifically in relation to the murder of Breonna Taylor. 

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Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants kneel prior to the national anthem before their game at Dodger Stadium on July 23, 2020

“Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” the Rays tweeted.

The Boston Red Sox retweeted the message to their 2.1 million followers, prompting a massive wave of support and sharing online from fans. The Nationals, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are just a few of the teams that have pledged to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘United For Change’ patches on their baseball uniforms, which will also feature a new MLB logo that depicts the player as black. 

This will be the first time a new logo such as this will be used on the field, and players couldn’t be more thrilled. The Nationals and Yankee’s even took their uniforms one step further and just wore T-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” on them during Thursday’s pre-game. During Thursday’s national anthem, all players and coaches kneeled while holding a long black ribbon in unity with one another. The official MLB twitter account posted the photo in solidarity with the movement, causing fans to call on all other major sports leagues to “step it up” in terms of their support for Black Lives Matter. 

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“Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change injustices. Equality is not just a word it’s our right!”

The logos and tweets of support are just small parts of a new policy from MLB. The policy calls on the MLB players, the Players Alliance, and all other staff working within the MLB to enhance initiatives to improve Black representation in baseball both on and off-the-field. The league will also be expanding charitable donations to black owned/run organizations as well as continuing to give black players more of a platform during games. 

The policy also allows players to write messages on their cleats and uniforms in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; sporting uniforms in general are very sacred and often not written on in general. While baseball is known as one of the first sports to integrate black and white players on the field, they also are aware of the vast history of racism within MLB, and are working to reckon it everyday.

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Under Fire For Multiple Claims Of Racism And Sexual Abuse

Former Major League Baseball All-star Torii Hunter recently made a public statement claiming to be called the N-word “a hundred times” anytime he played at Fenway Park in Boston. Hunter stated that the city of Boston in general has a major racism problem, but he also received a massive amount of racially charged hate from within the industry as well. 

The Red Sox were quick to release a statement backing up Hunter’s claims and stated that they promised to fight racism from the inside. The Red Sox also added that there have been at least seven incidents cited within the past year alone that involved fans using racial slurs against players or rival fans. 

“Torii Hunter’s experience is real. And it’s not only players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. As we identify how we can do better, please know we are listening.”

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However, many individuals were quick to point out that the Boston Red Sox specifically have a long history of hearing claims of misconduct from black people working for them to no avail. The biggest example being the fact that there are more than a dozen black men who have made multiple claims over the past several years that they were sexually abused by former Red Sox clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick died back in 2005, but before that pleaded guilty to criminal charges of attempted sexual battery in 2002. During the trial Fitzpatrick admitted to using Red Sox memorabilia to lure young, black clubhouse workers into hidden areas of the training facility where he would then abuse them. Since 2002 a large number of men stepped forward to not only show their support for the victims, but allege that they were abused by Fitzpatrick as well. Many of the claims, however, dated all the way back to the 80’s and 90’s, making it difficult to bring those charges to trial. 

One of the largest controversies that came from that case regarded how many members of the team/working closely with the team knew about the alleged abuse, and how many worked to cover it up. Gerald Armstrong, 65, has been adamant that he believes multiple individuals not only knew about it, but let it happen continuously; “You can’t tell me that you can have 30 or 40 guys traveling around with him and observing his behavior and not know what he was doing,” Armstrong claimed. 

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Now, there’s been a large call-to-action placed on the city of Boston and the Red Sox to not make the same mistakes they made in the early 2000’s, and actually work to make systemic change within the type of individuals allowed to work for/around players and other black employees. 

The Red Sox in general have a fairly racist history as well, being the last team in the MLB to integrate black players back in 1959. Just two years ago the team was finally able to remove Tom Yawkey’s name from the street that runs alongside Fenway Park; Yawkey is the former Sox owner who made the decisions when it came to integrating the team. 

Separating from the racist and abusive past will be difficult for the Red Sox, however, Armstrong and Hunter believe that being so public about this misconduct during a time where America is reckoning itself for its multitude of racist systems, will be inspiring. 

“I think a lot of black men have been molested and for cultural reasons they just don’t come forward to deal with it. And if you don’t deal with it, you’re looking at a lot of emotional problems.”

Armstrong is encouraging all black people, and specifically men who were victims of abuse themselves, to take ownership of their lives and work to overcome that shame and embarrassment that predators like Fitzpatrick instill in them. 

Baseball on Mound

MLB’s Ian Desmond Opts Out Of 2020 Season With Powerful Message On Racial Justice

Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond is opting out of playing the upcoming shortened MLB season amid coronavirus concerns and the national movement for racial justice in America. Desmond recently made a statement on his Instagram in which he detailed how racism has impacted him in his personal life, and within the professional sports world as well. Desmond believes that the MLB needs to have just as much of a confrontation with racism as the rest of the country. 

Desmond has been playing for MLB for 11-years and has been playing for the Rockies for the past three seasons as a part of a $70 million five-year contract. In his Instagram statement, he claimed to be inspired to speak out and use his platform to discuss his experiences with racism after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. In his post, he detailed how much of his life has been shaped by systemic racism. 

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He recalled how in grade school the administration held a meeting for white families to tell them that Desmond and his sister would be enrolling. He then went on to discuss how his high school team often chanted “white power” ahead of games, which brought him into his experiences within MLB. 

“When I reflect on it [MLB career], I find myself seeing those same boxes. The golden rules of baseball — don’t have fun, don’t pimp home runs, don’t play with character. Those are white rules. Don’t do anything fancy. Take it down a notch. Keep it all in the box.”

He recounted hearing multiple racist, homophobic, and sexist jokes in clubhouses and discussed how there are very little black managers and players in MLB; an issue Desmond doesn’t personally believe anyone is actively trying to fix within the industry. 

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Desmond knowingly forgoed his salary by opting out of the season, and MLB has fully supported his decision, as they’ve been fairly back-and-forth about restarting the season in general. Desmond, however, claimed that he will still be spending the season on a baseball field, just with some smaller players. He’ll be working with his hometowns Little League players to get the teams “back on track” for the summer. 

“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now.  Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”

Desmond is not alone in opting out of playing the upcoming shortened MLB season, which is projected to resume on July 23rd. Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross recently gave statements through their managers that they wouldn’t be playing, along with Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake. All players also claimed that family played an obvious major role in their decision. 

As previously mentioned the 2020 MLB season is set to begin on July 23rd or 24th and will last for 60 games.

Baseball Glove

New MLB Proposal To Players Association Calls For 76-Game Season

Major League Baseball has made a new proposal to the Major League Baseball Players Association that is offering players 75% of their prorated salaries over the course of a shortened 76-game season. 

ESPN’s own, Karl Ravech, took to Twitter this past weekend to report on the proposal, in which he further explained that the season would aim to finish by September 27th with a postseason ending in October. The proposal also apparently makes “significant moves towards players demands” according to Ravech. 

Later in the day ESPN’s Jeff Passan took to Twitter to further explain the proposal that Ravech touched on, claiming that it would in fact be a 76-game season with a 75% prorated salary per player; this would equate to a total of $1,431,716,000 in additional compensations. That would equate to $1,909,436 per player for the 76 games, according to Passan

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Additionally, the proposal calls for up to 8 playoff teams per league. Teams that lose any of their free agents will receive a draft pick for other players that sign a multiyear deal of $35 million or more, or players with one-year deals offering $17.8 million in salary. Spring training will last for 21 days and the season will begin around July 10th. If a postseason occurs, each player will receive an additional $393,000 to their salaries.

It’s predicted, however, that the Major League Baseball Players Association will be rejecting this proposal, according to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich; two established sports journalists who write for The Athletic. The two journalists do agree that Major League Baseball will make an appearance in 2020, just not under these specific circumstances. 

The reasoning behind their lack of confidence in the players association approving this proposal is because it’s the third one to be presented to the group. The first proposal called for an 82-season game with a sliding-scale payment structure based on participation in the season, while the second proposed a 50-game season with a 33% prorated salary throughout. 

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“The MLBPA regards today’s offer from MLB to be worse than the league’s last because it shifts greater emphasis on risk sharing in the postseason. Players would receive 50 percent of pro rata if there is no postseason, 75 if there is. To put it another way, MLB’s offer can be said to represent a 50 percent per-game pay cut with a potential upside of a 25 percent cut,” tweeted Evan Drellich.

Bob Nightengale, a sports journalist for USA Today, agreed with Drellich’s above tweet, claiming that MLB views the latest offer as a major “step backwards.” The difficulty lies in the fact that the players made their own prorated agreement with the team owners back in March, however, as the pandemic continued to worsen, plans have obviously changed. 

The other difficulty lies in the fact that MLB is trying to prepare for the enormous lack of money they’d be making this season with no fans able to attend the games, purchase memorabilia, food, etc. due to Covid-19 concerns. The players have responded to this concern by stating that owners should “keep any surplus revenue in good years so they could absorb the hit in one year,” according to Nightingale. 

Players also are tired of the constant salary negotiations, as they already agreed to major pay cuts/ prorated salaries in March and don’t want to keep renegotiating for a season they don’t even know the full structure of yet. It’s predicted that the players association will come to some sort of conclusion in the coming week, as all members of MLB are still projecting to start the season in July, so for now, only time will tell when that’ll be.

MLB

MLB Owners Move To Pass Proposal That Would Start Baseball Season In July

Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have created a proposal that they will be submitting to the players union that could potentially lead to a delayed baseball season that would begin around the Fourth of July, instead of June. The proposal comes as an obvious response to the coronavirus pandemic and indefinite cancellations of all major sporting events in the United States until this pandemic is over.

Spring training would likely start in early to mid-June if the proposal comes into fruition. However, MLB officials will need the stamp of approval from the players union before any decisions are made, and it’s expected that the union is gonna put up quite the fight to keep players home.

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“If you do anything that resembles a cap, that smells like a cap, you’ve given too much. A salary cap has been a non-starter for the players as long as I’ve been in baseball. I think when MLB is proposing a revenue split, it is with the full knowledge that the players’ union will automatically reject that,” said David Samson, former president of the Expos and Marlins.

The proposal claims that each player would play about 82 regular-season games against opponents within their own division. Postseason games would expand out from 10 clubs to 14 by “doubling wild cards in each league to four.” Teams are likely going to want to play at their regular-season ballparks, however, if MLB can’t get proper government approval to have home games, teams will have to switch to either spring training stadiums or any other neutral meeting sites.

“We’ll see where we will be in July, California is the home of five MLB clubs and [they’ve all] talked with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. We certainly look forward to Major League Baseball and all sports resuming. But again, the question is when and that will be determined on the basis of public health and public safety and the spread of this virus,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

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Players, however, aren’t so convinced that we’ll be returning to a life of normalcy anytime soon, and based off what we’ve heard before in terms of professional athlete protections, most MLB players want what everyone wants; health protections for all players, families, staff, and employees involved. The logistics of ensuring everyone is consistently healthy while also having access to proper testing hasn’t even been mastered in America in general yet.

Teams will likely propose to have access to part of their 2020 salaries based on a split between what they would be making during regular and postseason. The proposal will also cover the concept of fans being able to return to ballparks at some point, which could involve inviting a few spectators at first and slowly increasing the number of bodies in the stands.

Most teams have already been given the chance to begin spring-training on their own, which many players have done, as opposed to travelling to be with their team. In March, the MLB called for each player to receive only a portion of their salary amid the pandemic. Players believe this specific agreement should still be followed as the basis for all future economic decisions involving MLB employees and players.

Again, the biggest concern is following proper health and safety guidelines and keeping everyone healthy while enduring a potential new baseball season. For now, only time will tell how all professional sports, along with the rest of the world, will be able to return to a life of normalcy.