After a long, fraught, absolutely insane baseball offseason, Spring Training is finally upon us. But if you thought that the drama was over, you must be new here.
Day 1 of Week 1 of 2020 baseball was overflowing with news of everything from the Mookie trade, to a former pitcher taking legal action against the Astros, to a proposed new postseason format, to the Mets doing something incredibly Mets.
Today, the New York Mets proudly unveiled the result of $57 million worth of renovations to their spring training facility, and specifically, the players’ clubhouse in St. Lucie, Florida. Plush blue carpets, cushy leather sofas and armchairs, enormous flatscreens hanging from the ceiling; in the words of SNL’s Stefon, “this club has everything.”
And apparently, ‘everything’ includes a “No Minor Leaguers Allowed” sign on the door.
You know, because Minor Leaguers have it too good already, and teams do not want them getting spoiled.
I hear Macklemore singing “I don’t belong in this club” in my head as I write this.
Per a 2018 piece in The Athletic, minor leaguers make between $1,100-$1,500 per month in High-A and Low-A ball, to $2,150-$2,700 per month in Triple-A. In the Dominican Summer League, a player makes $300 per month, with a grand total of $900 for the three-month season. Minor leaguers only get paid during the regular season, not for Spring Training or fall ball. When asked about this, Commissioner Rob Manfred responded, “It’s pretty rare that people get paid when they don’t work,” an obviously hypocritical statement coming from a man who gets paid year-round to chip away at the essence of baseball despite the fact that baseball is not played year-round.
So what does this mean? That even with the very minor raises that minor leaguers received to achieve these lofty paychecks, the majority of them are still falling well under the federally-recognized poverty line for single-individual households: an income of $12,140 per year. Most players do not receive the much-advertised bonuses that MLB attempts to use as a diversion from the fact that many minor league players do not make enough to feed and house themselves. As former Mets player Ty Kelly said, “Tough to forget you’re in A-Ball when you’re rationing 2 plates of spaghetti for 25 guys after games but, sure, leather couches will go to their heads.”
And while it is true that the Mets have a another new, separate, smaller clubhouse for the players spending the regular season down in Florida, it is simply ridiculous that they feel the need to separate them. There is no need to distinguish between “us” and “them” in baseball, when the millions, spotlight, and benefits of being in the Majors are more than enough to set them apart from the Minors without this needlessly cruel show of active separation. It also seems like it would have cost the Mets less money to only renovate one clubhouse, rather than build a completely separate clubhouse, and they could have used some of that money to actually… pay the minor leaguers.
Ultimately, there is no justifiable reason to make this choice. And to claim that the separation is a motivational tool to inspire players to work harder to ascend to the Majors is insulting to the struggles through which these players persevere every day in order to do just that.
Photo: USA Today