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Former #1 Pick Mark Appel Had A Few Awesome Ideas On How To Fix Minor League Wages

Giphy Images.

So baseball is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. I'm not gonna get into what a shit show it is right now, but the game continues to be its own worst enemy and more people are turned off by it every single day. I wish I had an answer to these issues, but there isn't one set of rules or guidelines to follow and this is a really deep, really mucky situation.

That said, the owners are all satan and I wish the worst on them.

HOWEVAH… wishing death on owners gets us nowhere. It's abundantly clear that the vast majority of the 30 ownership groups don't give a flying fuck about the game, the players, the fans or anyone else so long as their bottom line flourishes as much as possible. Because of that, there are extreme warts on the ugly business side of the game. 

One of those warts is the indentured servitude minor leaguers go through. Now, I know a decent amount of people who played pro ball. College roommate, Nick Robinson, was a 38th rounder by the Red Sox. He got a $1000 bonus and a plane ticket to beautiful Lowell, MA. One of my oldest friends, Casey Crosby was a 5th rounder by the Tigers. He signed for nice coin - about $750K - and struck out A-Rod in his first career start. Of the three, he's the only one that made it to the Bigs. Casey and I started playing football together when we were 10. Another friend, Mike Recchia, was an inch away from making it to The Show with the Sox before he had to hang 'em up to provide for his family. I sent all three of them this thread and asked them to opine on it given their very different MiLB experiences. 

I sent each of them Appel's tweet thread and asked them to opine. Bob Woodward and Dave Williams - two of Wheaton Warrenville South's finest investigative journalists. Here's what they said verbatim:

Reccia's response. He followed it up with "Felt like a chick mad at her man typing that"

Everything he speaks of makes all the sense because if you are fortunate enough to be able to play in the minor leagues, you’re obviously good enough to make it to the show. The future stars of baseball go thru this as well. The difference is money. Money is the MAJOR factor IMO. I could have gone to Fall league after 2014 season and I could have gone to Venezuela for winter ball after 2014 season. I chose not to because of everything Mark said. Housing cost me money, groceries cost money, utilities cost money. I needed a job because I had a family. With a job comes responsibility on top of family. Therefore, balancing time between my professional baseball career, my family, my job was very difficult. If paid during off season, you’d see more of s success rate in more fringe players because they Can get that workout in, that cage work, work on that 3rd or 4th pitch and not have to worry about stocking shelves at target for $10/hr because a multi billion mlb organization won’t pay you. One big key factor I took out of his posting was

“if you don’t show up ready, you have no excuse”

I think all organizations should pay players during off season with that quote in mind. But if you don’t come back ready you should be let go because now the tools were given to you and you failed.

IN SEASON, you just got to make it work. It’s a grind for a reason. Whether you signed for $3 million or $3,000. You still have to go out there, do your job and do it great CONSISTENTLY.

I’m not a big fan of a cook. However, meal money on the road (when I played) was $25/day. That’s not nearly enough when you consider the clubhouse dues and the shit wages. I think meal money on the road should be much more and in order to not just eat like shit at home games too, the org should also give meal money at home. This will help with healthier options. The scouts, coaches, management…they know who works. They know who can play and they know who can give it al daily.

I don’t believe players should be catered too tho. Money is one thing, and off season money is another. But I do think that if you really wanted to be a great player and make it to the show. The only person stoping you from making it is the man in the mirror.

Wow. I figured I'd get all short "yeah I agree with him" sort of responses before being ghosted but goddamn. That was an awesome response. 

Continuing…

Here's what Casey had to say:

Yeah I absolutely agree they should integrate their meals. With the Twins they paid for pre and post game catering but when I got sent to Chattanooga the clubhouse manager there was so good he got the OK from them to make it all himself. We absolutely loved it. There are just too many positives not to do that. Cooked fresh on site, the right portions, you get input what you want. At least 2 meals a day should be like that. They have to feed the masses and that’s the cheapest way to do it. I know the dodgers had fresh market paid for with their meals but the portions were lot close to enough and that’s a big factor too. 

And don’t get me started on the stresses of finding housing

These guys are working 10+ hours a day while in season, making $1000-1500 a month after taxes, have to pay clubhouse dues, eat AND pay for housing… no wonder you always here stories of 10 guys packed into a 1 bed apartment with air mattresses littered all over the floors.

And here's what Nick had to say:

One thing i dont buy is training in the offseason. If you cant find a place to hit or throw thats on you. There are places everywhere. And if you cant afford it they would surely trade lessons for cage time. And if you dont have a facility near you a high school or college. If you havent made connections along your career of people who would let you workout there idk what you were doing. Right now i could probably go to a dozen places if i wanted to hit. Idk what the solution is but I mean the teams would def benefit overall and in the long run if they treated the players better

So there ya go. Obviously they are only 3 people and don't represent the whole MiLB let alone anyone else other than themselves. I just knew they had three really different experiences, but in the end would all have similar gripes with MLB - namely that MiLB players are treated like shit, for the most part. I know for a FACT I wouldn't have been able to support myself as both a player and as a… ya know, human… if I had been some middling draft pick an organization didn't have any real financial investment in. That would have never happened (obviously) but these guys had it tough while they were in pro ball, and I gotta imagine their situation was better than some kid who signed for a few grand out of Cuba or Venezuela.  

Once I got these guys wheels spinning they wouldn't stop. Talked to a few other guys too who are still in pro ball (MLB level) and they all echo'd Appel's sentiments. Not that they agreed with him 100%, but as a whole, their ideas were all similar. They all said "MiLB players are treated like shit" without saying, "MiLB players are treated like shit." 

It sucks, but that's where we're at. Now, MiLB players aren't protected by the union unless they're on the 40 man, which renders all of these issues very difficult to fix. I don't know what the answer(s) is/are, but I do know the end game is the 30 majority owners sharing the wealth more so than they're doing now. 

All 30 teams were supposed to have reported to spring training by now. That hasn't happened because the owner's don't want to dip into their checkbooks anymore than they already have to. They're content with minor leaguers living below the poverty line. They said it themselves!!! 

A Major League Baseball lawyer said in federal court Friday that minor league players should not be paid during spring training, because they should be considered trainees. The argument was part of a broader push by MLB to toss an eight-year-old lawsuit brought by Aaron Senne and other minor leaguers over their compensation.

Bloom was elaborating on arguments made last year. MLB hired an expert at a rate of $775 per hour who argued that players in spring training actually receive a value of $2,200 weekly from their teams, based on what youth and amateur players pay for baseball training.

Unbelievable!!! They will do ANYTHING IN THEIR POWER to keep money from going to the players pockets. 

Fucking sucks. These guys are the worst. Do not let ANYBODY tell you this is on the players. It's not. The owners locked the players out. Adam Wainwright - a pretty respected player around the league - said they'd be playing right now if they just let them play under the old rules until a new CBA can be reached:

Still doesn't fly with the owners. They are trying to direct every cent possible to the pockets of themselves and their investors before games are played. We're talking about leaders of a billion dollar industry nickel and diming like crazy. It's getting to the point where I wouldn't blame the players for striking and missing as many games as they need to to get their fair share. I don't think that will happen - again, because 70% of the league is making less than a million a year and those guys HAVE to play - but I wouldn't blame them if it did.

Emily Waldon of The Athletic constructed an incredible piece on this topic a few years back. Read it - it's behind a paywall but this read is worth the few bucks a month subscription alone. Read it and you will be enraged with how MLB treats these guys. Fucking gross, if you ask me.

Baseball continues to be its own worst enemy. They can't just do things the "right" way