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Thursday, June 27, 2019

MLB veterans who sign minor league deals face challenges on and off the field

For players like Gonzalez and Parra, a return to the minors, even for a short time, can be a culture shock. The lifestyle differences between the majors and even Triple-A can be profound. There’s no chartered private jet for the team; instead players are sandwiched in a middle seat on an early morning flight or riding an overnight sleeper bus. There’s no five-star hotel with a room to themselves; instead players share rooms in mid-level hotels unless they’re willing to pay out of pocket to stay in their own room.

There’s no varied and healthy pre- or post-game food spread in the clubhouse; instead players get sandwiches before a game and then sodium-heavy Chinese food or pasta afterward. They have to go back to waiting through security instead of walking onto a team jet. They get to hotels early in the morning after driving all night or flying out at the crack of dawn and then have to wait around the hotel lobby for three or four hours for their room to be ready, only to be left with enough time to throw their bags in their rooms and head for the ballpark.

“It is the most stark, drastic, intense difference between levels,” Iowa Cubs play-by-play announcer Alex Cohen told SN. “You can completely understand why players are bitter and upset and angry when they go from the big leagues to Triple-A.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 27, 2019 at 05:40 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor league deals

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: June 27, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5856299)
unless they’re willing to pay out of pocket to stay in their own room.

Oh c'mon now. Parra has made about $41 M, CarGo over $83 M. I don't think a private room at the Red Roof is gonna make much of a dent in their retirement funds.

Let's say between players, coaches, staff and players it's, what, 20 rooms. $150 a room so $3000 a night per road game plus some off days ... call it about $250,000 for the season. At his peak, CarGo was paid that every 2 games.

I'm sure it's a shock to the system. I'm surprised how many vets are willing to do it, at least for 2-3 months sometimes. Good on 'em for not giving up.
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 27, 2019 at 09:44 AM (#5856303)
They have to go back to waiting through security instead of walking onto a team jet.


Gonzalez and Parra are both from Venezuela. Can you get TSA Precheck if you're not an American citizen?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:08 AM (#5856312)
Gonzalez and Parra are both from Venezuela. Can you get TSA Precheck if you're not an American citizen?

I would guess a permanent resident could as well.
   4. kthejoker Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:37 AM (#5856333)
Surprised at AAA there's not a better nutritional program, seems like a key input to performance and only an incremental cost outlay.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5856342)
Surprised at AAA there's not a better nutritional program, seems like a key input to performance and only an incremental cost outlay.

I don't think there's any evidence that nutrition matters for the health of 20 y.o.'s except in the most extreme cases. If a physically active 22 y.o. is getting enough calories, is not becoming obese, and doesn't have a vitamin deficiency, I doubt it matters what they eat.

I was in the best physical shape of my life in college when I had the absolute worst diet. 90% of my calories came from pizza, hamburgers, fries, donuts and beer.
   6. Zonk Has Great and Unmatched Wisdom Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5856344)
If teams were to implement better nutritional programs (and FWIW - in the Eaton thread, someone mentioned that the Dodgers actually do in fact have such a thing in the system) solely at specific levels, I'm not sure AAA would be the best place for it.

AA would seem to be the place where most actual prospects would spend more time...
   7. Rally Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5856345)
I'm calling BS on being stuck with a middle seat. These former MLB players with multiple millions in the bank are probably picking up the checks at bars and restaurants for their teammates who have never made more than 3k in a month. I find it hard to imagine that when the team boards the plane, these guys don't get a window.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: June 27, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5856347)
instead players are sandwiched in a middle seat on an early morning flight

They make all of the players sit in the middle seat? That seems uncalled for.
   9. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 27, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5856350)
Given the size of the jets that fly between AAA cities, many (if not most) of them aren't big enough to have a middle seat.
   10. Tin Angel Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5856370)
Well, my day is ruined. To think of millionaires who play a game for a living having to travel in something other than a private chartered jet...what kind of a world are we living in? How come I am just hearing about this now but I'm constantly barraged about stuff like children dying in detention centers?
   11. PreservedFish Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5856372)
Odds are the better nutritional program would be a few veggies & dip party platters picked up at Walmart Superstore, and would also be ignored in favor of the "sodium-heavy" food that the kids actually want to eat.
   12. Cris E Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5856373)
The struggle is real, Tin. Be strong.
   13. Itchy Row Posted: June 27, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5856415)
My plan has always been to have a Hall of Fame major league career and, after having set all the records by age 35, semi-retire and play minor league baseball in a town I really liked, living something like how Rod Beck did with the Iowa Cubs, until I was 50 or so. Now that I'm 44, it's starting to seem like that's not going to happen.
   14. DL from MN Posted: June 27, 2019 at 02:19 PM (#5856417)
If only major leaguers had the ability to negotiate better working conditions for minor leaguers, especially those at the highest levels.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 27, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5856438)
As someone who was a frequent business traveler for a number of years I both do and don't have sympathy. I have some sympathy because I know the frequent travel wears you down even if you're flying business class and staying at relatively nice hotels. And the travel that you think is exciting when you're in your 20s becomes more of a chore as you get older (and most of the travel is not exciting -- the inside of a conference room looks pretty much the same in LA as it does in Indianapolis or Jersey City).

That being said, I've flown in my share of middle seats, I've flown redeyes in coach and then changed in the airport bathroom in order to make it to a meeting on time, I've taken trains that got stuck on the track and planes that got stuck on the tarmac for hours. I've also spent out of pocket when it was necessary so I'm sure these guys can do the same if it's important to them. And I knew that while it sucked, I was getting paid a lot more than the average American (yet much less than the average MLBer) to do it, so I didn't expect sympathy from anyone who hasn't been through something similar.
   16. jacjacatk Posted: June 27, 2019 at 11:41 PM (#5856605)
Odds are the better nutritional program would be a few veggies & dip party platters picked up at Walmart Superstore, and would also be ignored in favor of the "sodium-heavy" food that the kids actually want to eat.


The college players I know who train hard, on balance, pay a reasonable amount of attention to nutrition. I mean, I'm sure they eat plenty of crap, too, but they pay attention to making sure that's not all they eat and they work awfully hard on conditioning out of season as well as in. Can't imagine most of them don't at least try to stay on top of that when they go pro, and it'd probably be a lot easier of the teams were pitching in (and on net would likely benefit the teams, even if it was just to create better competition for the guys who are eventually going to move up).
   17. Bote Man sez Deivi is MoY Posted: June 28, 2019 at 12:20 AM (#5856607)
Nutrition for Dummies: garbage in, garbage out.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2019 at 01:37 AM (#5856619)
Now that I'm 44, it's starting to seem like that's not going to happen.

I dunno, the record book for players older than 44 is pretty thin so lots of records there are low-hanging fruit. In the liveball era, Jamie Moyer's 13 hits are 5th all-time for players 45+. Sure, you're probably not catching Franco at 228 hits from ages 70-74 but you can out-hit Jamie Moyer can't you?

Nutrition for Dummies: garbage in, garbage out.

I think the issue is: garbage in ... and some of that garbage stays in.
   19. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 28, 2019 at 11:12 AM (#5856664)
Given the size of the jets that fly between AAA cities, many (if not most) of them aren't big enough to have a middle seat.


On a small enough plane, it's a window, an aisle, and a middle, all at the same time.
   20. Howie Menckel Posted: June 28, 2019 at 12:40 PM (#5856681)
yeah, and the trek to the restroom is - well, it's awkward at best.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: June 28, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5856684)
I think I've been on a (short) commercial flight with no bathroom.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 28, 2019 at 01:39 PM (#5856710)
Nutrition for Dummies: garbage in, garbage out.
No matter what you put in, what comes out is garbage. Seriously, don't touch it.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 28, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5856840)

I think I've been on a (short) commercial flight with no bathroom.

Yeah, I've taken some of those short Cessna flights in the Caribbean, where they assign your seat based on your weight to make sure the plane is properly balanced. Definitely no bathrooms on those flights.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 28, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5856846)
I've taken some of those short Cessna flights in the Caribbean, where they assign your seat based on your weight to make sure the plane is properly balanced.
Any place that requires this to be visited is a place I will never, ever, ever see. And I'm OK with that.
   25. akrasian Posted: June 30, 2019 at 01:33 AM (#5857198)
I don't think there's any evidence that nutrition matters for the health of 20 y.o.'s except in the most extreme cases. If a physically active 22 y.o. is getting enough calories, is not becoming obese, and doesn't have a vitamin deficiency, I doubt it matters what they eat.

I was in the best physical shape of my life in college when I had the absolute worst diet. 90% of my calories came from pizza, hamburgers, fries, donuts and beer.


There's a difference between Joe average college student and elite athletes. A small difference in nutrition can make the difference between a small speed gain, or strength gain, and being good enough to be a sedentary student.

Given how many millions teams spend to develop a pipeline of players, a bit extra spent on proper nutrition seems to be a reasonable expense. Not just on the extra depth promoted to the major leagues - and it certainly seems to be the case that teams are using more minor leaguers now than in years past; but also depth to be used in trades for short term help when a team doesn't have a needed player. Oh, and depth to be traded for major leaguers too.

I don't mind some teams not recognizing this advantage, since it gives the Dodgers a small but real advantage. I'm continually surprised that knowledgeable baseball fans ignore this advantage though.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 30, 2019 at 07:22 AM (#5857208)
Any place that requires this to be visited is a place I will never, ever, ever see. And I'm OK with that.

Don’t fly Cape Air then. The two places I did this were St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and Vieques, PR. I had to go to St. Croix for work and was traveling with two colleagues who each weighed 250-300 lbs (I’m ~170). Was definitely a bit nervous on that flight. I think there are larger commercial planes that land there now. And of course you can get there by boat.

Vieques could have also been accessed easily via ferry, but my wife gets very seasick so I figured a 25-minute flight was better. She was still pretty unhappy about it but I thought the views from the plane were amazing.

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