Category Archives: Major League Baseball Players Association

Halcyon Days

Baseball’s always been my sport. I played it and its cousin, softball, obsessively back when I was a kid in Chicago. We played in alleys, mostly, meaning we all had to learn how to hit the ball straight up the middle. It was like playing football on a bowling lane or basketball in a hallway.

I played until I was about 38 years old when one Sunday while I was playing third base in a softball league game in suburban Lincolnwood, the batter hit a scorching bounder at me. The ball took a funny hop and, superannuated as I was, I was unable to react quickly enough and the ball smashed into my eye, shattering my glasses. It turned out the blow caused what the eye surgeon called a traumatic cataract, which had to be sliced out of me. The worst part of that procedure was when the nurse injected some drug or another directly into my eyeball, the memory of which to this day turns my legs into jelly.

Anyway, the start of baseball’s spring training and Opening Day (always capitalized) six weeks later have been landmarks in my yearly countdown to spring. I detest winter about as much as the cancerous tumors that popped up around my larynx in 2015, the same year my beloved Cubs began their long awaited renaissance, culminating in their first World Series championship since 19 goddamned 08.

The Heights.

That was in 2016, the same year chemoradiation therapy zapped the bejesus out of my tumors (I’d nicknamed them My Olive Pits), so it should have been an annum of bliss, Except five days later, the voters of this holy land decided to elect a lunkheaded clown to the presidency, killing my buzz and making me fret for the future.

The Pits.

Here it is, the first week of March and the Cubs and the 29 other Major League Baseball teams should have begun spring training games already. Only the MLB owners have decided to lock the players out because the Collective Bargaining Agreement between them and the Major League Baseball Players Association had expired last December. The owners are loath to share any more of the billions their sport rakes in with the guys who actually play the game than they have to. Sure, some ballplayers make ten, twenty, even thirty million dollars a year playing a game that I played every day, seemingly every hour of every day, back when I was 11. Of course, my skill level was a bit lower than theirs. If by bit, we mean several light years.

Spring training generally starts around Valentine’s Day and I take that date as the Beginning of the End of Winter. But, as I say, spring training hasn’t started yet. And the owners and the players, who been negotiating a new CBA, just gave each other the finger and have broken off talks. The first week of regular season games have already been cancelled. It’s doubtful there’ll even be any games come April. And if worse comes to worse, a couple of months or more of the 2022 season will be wiped out.

The idiots.

The owners, that is. Not only have I long been a staunch union guy (I’ve been a member of the Municipal Laborers Union, the National Writers Union, and the Newspaper Guild) but, even if I weren’t, I’d still side with the players because, for pity’s sake, I watch the games to see the players in action not to slobber over the owners counting their billions. As long as the game generates so much cash, the lion’s share of it ought to go to the people doing the hitting, pitching, and running around.

Not only that, but the majority of Major League players do not earn the aforementioned astronomical salaries. Under the expired CBA, incoming players earned $590,000 a year, a hefty payday to be sure but when you consider the fact that tens of millions of kids play baseball but only 750 or so grow up to play in the Bigs each year, that dough seems about right. Hell, maybe those lucky rookies ought to earn even more. The sport is awash in money. TV networks and regional sports programming operations are waving multi-billion-dollar checks at the owners, and a lot of those same owners call taxpayer-funded stadia home. Still, those owners want to break the players union because…, well, because that’s what the uber-rich do — fuck over as many people as they can, just for the sport of it.

Aw, I didn’t mean to get all that bitter here. My original intent was to post a little audio essay I call Halcyon Days. Click on the media bar up top and enjoy.

Your Daily Hot Air

Hey kids, just a few quick hits today because I’m in a hurry.

Union Now!

How cool is it that fast food workers in selected cities are going out on a series of one-day strikes this week?

The Big Mike answer and Official Pencil Policy Statement? Very cool.

Chase Guttman photo

NYC McDonald’s Workers On Strike Yesterday

Ever since Saint Ronald Reagan institutionalized this holy land’s policy of crushing labor unions by decertifying PATCO back in 1981, the labor movement has slid inexorably nearer to irrelevance. Dig: by general acclamation, the single most powerful workers group in the United States is the Major League Baseball Players Association. That is, a group of workers whose entry-level annual base pay is for the 2013 season is $490,000. That comes out to cool $30,625 per two-week pay period for the newest, rawest, and, perhaps, least productive worker in the business. Try to find a currency exchange that’ll cash that check.

But the MLBPA has consistently beaten the major league baseball owners at the bargaining table for the last 40 years. Baseball is the only major pro sports operation that doesn’t have a hard salary cap and big league ballplayers are entitled to the most liberal free agency system in all sports. Oh, and all contracts are guaranteed, meaning if a player is cut by a team, the team still owes him all the money due through the end on his contract. Pretty sweet, eh?

Of course, most things are pretty sweet for the 1% in this great nation.

Baseball & Money

Pretty Sweet

Then there’s the poor slob who’s pouring your cup of McDonald’s coffee, maybe even as we speak. He earns minimum wage. Which, as any kindergartner can calculate, is not enough to support a family of one, much less two, three, or more.

The big cheeses at Mickey Ds, Burger King, Wendy’s, and all those other salt-and-fat emporia are wringing their hands and dabbing at their eyes with their Kleenexes [boxes of which they purchased at drug-and-convenience stores that also pay their “valued associates” that same princely minimum wage], trying to convey to us through their subs that their businesses will crumble if they have to pay out a penny more in wages.

Bullshit.

I for one would be more than happy to pay a dollar extra per Big Mac just so’s the single mom flipping the horsemeat over a hot griddle can buy her kid[s] some shoes.

And if you wouldn’t, let me be the first to inform you that you are a jerk.

The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

This needs to be said and I’ll be the first: Annie Corrigan of WFIU carries the best set of pipes in all of Indiana broadcasting.

Bernard Gordillo Brockmann photo

The Voice Of Bloomington

She is the consummate professional and her joyous, dulcet lilt wakes me in the morning like the call of the cardinal.

My only fear is she’ll soon follow the scent of real b-casting money to a larger market, a reward of which she’s more than deserving. Oh, Annie girl…!

Not So Fast

Pope Frankie made a big splash yesterday by holding an impromptu press conference on the airplane as his entourage high-tailed it out of Brazil.

Sinatra/Pope

Idols

Among other things, the new Vatican princeps said he wasn’t about to judge anyone for being a homosexual and that women ought to play a larger role within the Church.

Now, before we all start throwing huzzahs around, let’s remember it is still the policy of the of the Roman Catholic executive committee that homosexual acts are sins and women shall never be priests.

Here’s my Latin response to the putative groundbreaking pronouncements by the Pontiff: Facta, non verba.*

[* In English, Actions, not words.]

America Grows Up

Back to coolness. How cool is it that John Kerry is the 68th Secretary of State of the United States of America?

Kerry/VVAW

Kerry, The Antiwar Protester

Honestly! Kerry was one of the faces of the anti-war movement back when this nation was debasing itself and committing crimes against humanity in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1960s and ’70s. In April, 1971, Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the atrocities and general wrongheadedness of our excellent adventure in Southeast Asia. Later, he and other vets marched to the US Capitol and threw their service decorations at the place. At the time, Kerry said, “I’m not doing this for any violent reasons, but for peace and justice, and to try and make this country wake up once and for all.”

President Nixon and his gang of gasbags would have thrown a party had Kerry, then one of the leaders of Vietnam Veterans against the War, been run over by a bus. It’s a shocker that one of the rat-fuckers didn’t get that bright idea and try to recruit a down-on-his-luck bus driver to carry out the contract.

And now, Kerry is in charge of US foreign policy. We’ve still got a lot to be ashamed of and apologetic for in America, but we’ve come a long way, baby.

[BTW: Speaking of cool once again, imagine that a national talk show would have a civilized, rational, intellectual debate between representatives of opposing sides of a hot-button issue. The Dick Cavett Show was analogous to, say, today’s Conan or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I don’t want to slip into that old Things-were-better-in-my-day routine but, jeez, at least some of TV acknowledged that the average American had an organ in her or his skull.]

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