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Arizona: "Minor League Baseball Players Should Earn At Least Minimum Wage." Major League Baseball: "Fuck That"

Major League Baseball wants Arizona lawmakers to ensure minimum wage laws don’t apply to minor league players in the state, something the league recently accomplished at the federal level.

Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, has introduced House Bill 2180, which would adjust the state’s minimum wage laws to match the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The act was amended as part of the 2018 federal spending bill and exempts minor league players from earning the $7.25 federal minimum wage and overtime pay.

Minor League players, who are contracted by their team’s major league affiliate, are paid as little as $1,100 a month, and only when in season, according to USA Today.

Players are not paid during spring training, although they receive daily breakfast and lunch as well as a small stipend for living expense. This can cause a financial burden for players and their families.

Minor league players also are not members of the MLB Player’s Union if they don’t make the major league team’s 40-man roster.

Under current Arizona law, the only people who don’t earn minimum wage are those who work for a parent or a sibling, who babysit as a casual service or who work for the state or federal government.

Federal law changed last year as part of the budget.

Arizona’s minimum wage is $11 an hour, and it will increase to $12 an hour in 2020 under Proposition 206, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2016.

Is idea ‘ready for prime time?’

Shope said the MLB approached him about introducing a bill and he was happy to bring it to the Legislature, although he wasn’t sure it furthered the intent of the voters.  That is required for laws that make changes to voter-approved measures such as the minimum wage.

“Major League Baseball is a major component of Arizona’s commerce and tourism,” Shope said. He said any business that relies on tourism is grateful for the minor league system in Arizona and the tourism it generates.

Shope said he told the league that it would take a lot of effort to change the state’s minimum wage laws. In addition to furthering the intent of voters, changing the minimum wage rules would take approval of three-fourths of the Legislature to be sent to the governor’s desk.

“I think it’s ripe for conversation, but maybe it’s not ready for prime time and Major League Baseball will figure that out,” Shope said. “Forty-five votes is a very high number.”

The bill also contains a retroactivity clause that Shope said is designed to protect the league from lawsuits they are facing in Arizona and Florida. Those lawsuits contend that the MLB violates minimum wage laws.

David Selden, a labor, employment and immigration lawyer at Cavanagh Law Firm in Phoenix, said it was uncommon to see retroactivity clauses in state labor legislation.

Selden said he thought whether the bill furthered the intent of the voters, which Arizona’s Voter Protection Act requires, would be an open question.

“It’s fairly safe to say baseball players were not on the minds of the voters when it was passed,” Selden said.

He said there is a strong case to be made by the MLB that overtime hours would stack up if players who are practicing at team facilities stayed late or were subject to overtime laws.

But in an emailed statement, Ian Penny, general counsel to the MLB Players’ Association, said, “It is fundamentally unjust to deny professional baseball players the basic protection of the minimum wage laws, especially at a time when clubs are reporting record revenues.”

Well if anyone thinks that Kyler Murray made the wrong call, here’s why you’re wrong.  Sure he signed for $5MM, which turns into about $3MM after taxes, and he could *probably* live healthily off that assuming he budgets properly, but if he’s a mid to late 1st rounder as currently projected, he’ll sign for a bonus as much as $8-9MM and a total contract of $20MM or more.

I’m not a mathematician, but that’s more than the $5MM he signed with the A’s for.  I know NFL salaries aren’t guaranteed, but he’ll live out at least his rookie contract even if he’s a complete and total bust, not to mention make a fuck ton in endorsements and jersey sales.  I’m a baseball guy and would love to see him be the next great CF, but he made the right call here.

The “suppression” of player salaries is a huge buzz phrase this offseason, as it doesn’t look like two of the most premier free agents in MLB history are going to sniff $300MM they want, when just about a year ago some people projected $400MM or more for both.  Insanity.

But that’s just market ebbs and flows, IMO.  I said it yesterday; MLB teams are done paying for past performance and have become more adept at forecasting future performance.  Supply/demand and all that other economic smart that is causing teams to spend smarter.  Sucks for the players, but that’s just how it’s gonna be moving forward, or at least until a new CBA

But what MLB is doing to legit suppress MiLB players’ salaries is straight up criminal.  Major League Baseball is a billion dollar industry and is the hardest sport to “make” it in.  These players are putting in non-stop work in both their personal time and on company time.  And they make legit shit to show for it, unless you were fortunate enough to be a high enough draft pick to garnish a 6 figure payday.

I have a buddy who I played with in HS who played affiliated ball for the Sox a few years back.  He was involved in a class-action suit against MLB for MiLB players earnings, which eventually went nowhere.  He was a fringe prospect for the Sox 4-5 years back, enough to have been considered a spot starter in Chicago during his last season.  But then #life happened.  Here was what he had to say, copy and pasted word for word:

99.9% of guys in the minor leagues believe they will make it to the bigs, obviously that’s not even close. I had a wife and two kids at home. Newborns. My checks cleared….CLEARED $650 — I paid clubhouse dues, rent and utilities…oh not to mention I had a family back home I needed to support. Shit didn’t work. Even in a season in which I had a chance to go to bigs, it was too hard for a man with a family at home to keep pursuing the dream of making it to the bigs. Not much else to say. I made the choice and those men also make the same choice. You play for the love. The money comes after the hard work. Those dedicated and driven will get there someway, somehow. I didn’t.

$1300 for a fucking month’s work is HIGHWAY ROBBERY.  And they can’t earn supplementary income, because playing professional baseball is a full-time job.  And that’s only from April 1st through September 30th.  But they can’t really supplement that income in the offseason because they have to be training… so, ya know, they can eventually make it to The Show and earn that sweet, sweet league minimum and if they’re otherworldly lucky/talented, a free agent contract.

It’s honestly disgusting.  I’m for paying a player market value, which is why I don’t think the Sox should just throw Machado $300MM to lock him up, which some people don’t agree with, but anyone who doesn’t think MiLB players should be earning bare minimum livable wages needs their head checked.

I hope a big swinging dick attorney rallies the troops and goes to fucking town on MLB for this shit, and sooner than later.