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Friday, September 17, 2021

Baseball Pension Tension

If you’re a former major league baseball player whose career extended past or began after 1980, you have it made even if you had nothing but the proverbial cup of coffee. All you needed from there was 43 days worth of time in the Show, and you vested for a major league pension. 

It gets better, too: all you needed from there was one day’s Showtime and you qualified for health benefits.

There’s only one thing wrong with that pension realignment. If you had such a short major league career that ended before 1980, you got three things: jack, diddley, and squat. ...

The reasons why Qualls, Clyde, Denehy, Gaspar, Pfeil, and the rest of the remaining 600+ short-career, frozen-out players had short careers vary. What most have in common otherwise is that they weren’t just September call-ups, the excuse several of those players have told me was used as a big part of the reason they got frozen out in the first place.

As if it should matter. You get 43 Show days, you should be in, whether you came up the first time in April or September.

“I love baseball,” Gaspar told me last November. “I don’t like what they’ve done with the pension, eliminating guys who didn’t have the four full years, there’s a lot of guys out there who are hurting.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2021 at 10:37 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlbpa

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   1. The Duke Posted: September 17, 2021 at 10:56 AM (#6040071)
The other thing the players could do for minor leaguers is allow them to accrue a benefit for minor league time served. That could be one way to square the circle on minor league pay
   2. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 17, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6040086)
The article opens with intentionally misleading statements:


All you needed from there was 43 days worth of time in the Show, and you vested for a major league pension.

It gets better, too: all you needed from there was one day’s Showtime and you qualified for health benefits.
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 17, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6040120)

I don't even understand what those sentences mean.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 17, 2021 at 02:31 PM (#6040129)
What other industry provides pensions for workers who only work a few weeks? What other union sacrifices the interests of current workers to boost benefits for long ago non-current bargaining unit members? Sure, it would be nice if the MLBPA had been able to secure better benefits earlier, but that didn’t happen. Nothing is stopping MLB from boosting benefits for these players, the hang-up is its apparent unwillingness to do so without obtaining concessions from today’s players.
   5. Karl from NY Posted: September 17, 2021 at 03:15 PM (#6040135)
Yeah, #4 is right. The article gives this number:

pre-1980 short-career players ... That deal gave those former players $625 a quarter for every 43 days major league service time, up to four years.


43 days is a quarter of a service-year, so that's really $2500 yearly per year of service, to max of $10k yearly if you went four years. That's some intentionally misleading slicing and dicing of that number to make it sound much lower than it is. That's actually quite a bit - not exactly a living wage, but there's no reason for it to be, in no job does only four years of service entitle you to a living wage for life.

That's for that one limited category of players, but it seems they're getting plenty compared to the labor they provided. It's not like someone like that was driving ticket sales or merch or championships.

There's some argument that sports organizations should provide medical care in exchange for the physical toll it takes on a body, but four years of baseball is pretty light compared to most any other sport (except maybe for a pitcher who incurred major arm surgery.)
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 17, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6040148)
After 43 days, players qualify for the pension. The pension payout escalates based on service time, like most pensions. Players would receive a small payout for 43 days of service time. But many on the internet like to vaguely mention the pension and 43 days, because many readers will erroneously think such players are receiving huge paydays.

On a player's first day in the majors, they are qualified for the MLB players health insurance plan and can elect to use that benefit, like you would at any new job. But the internet has erroneously turned that into a belief that any player who has played one day in the majors receives free health insurance for the rest of their life.

   7. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2021 at 05:19 PM (#6040157)
In a business in which most of the revenue is based upon the talent of the players, it seems very fair to make sure they receive benefits early on. Especially when you consider the fact that those skills have almost no ability to translate into another job. Basically you are asking your employees to stop developing skills during their developmental years in order to focus on non-transferable skills in the hopes that they might someday be good enough to play a lot of games. And the team is cashing in on your skills.

How many other business on the planet outside of sports, are 6-12 billion dollar generating, that rely almost exclusively on 800 people per year?
   8. Karl from NY Posted: September 17, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#6040159)
That revenue is based on the talent of the star players, not the organizational filler who wash out after 43 days.

And there is no standard of what's "fair", you're worth what you can negotiate to get an employer to pay you. ("You" can include acting collectively in a union for leverage.)
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 17, 2021 at 05:33 PM (#6040163)

There's some argument that sports organizations should provide medical care in exchange for the physical toll it takes on a body, but four years of baseball is pretty light compared to most any other sport (except maybe for a pitcher who incurred major arm surgery.)

There's probably a decent correlation between guys who washed out of MLB early and guys who suffered major injuries, though.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2021 at 05:54 PM (#6040169)

And there is no standard of what's "fair", you're worth what you can negotiate to get an employer to pay you. ("You" can include acting collectively in a union for leverage.)


Agree, it's why people who complain about "I had to pay for my school loans" are complaining about what is fair.... idiots are idiots. What is right or what can be negotiated are all that matters, not what happened in the past or what is fair.


The argument that people who have leverage should give up that leverage simply because they are getting too much is silly and idiotic.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2021 at 07:56 PM (#6040187)
What is right

Huh? "Right" and "fair" are closely related concepts in most people's minds.

#6: I'm not sure "the internet" is to blame on that one. There has been plenty of misunderstanding presented in published news pieces over the years.

But yes. "One day to get healthcare" is "one day gives you the right to purchase the MLBPA health insurance plan." It's reportedly a very good plan and reasonably priced so that benefit ain't bad but you still gotta pay for it, it's not free if you're not playing.

And as the article notes, those 43 days get you a pretty small pension. There aren't any other industries where you can vest after 43 days but otherwise it seems pretty normal given it's a job that pays over $500,000 a year.
   12. John Northey Posted: September 18, 2021 at 12:36 AM (#6040242)
I suspect some players would have sympathy to the old guys, especially any that are still kicking around as coaches (although playing pre 1980 would be fewer and fewer I suspect as those guys have to be 60+ now). As a nice gesture extending health benefits to those guys pre 1980 who'd qualify otherwise would be nice - most would be covered by government by now so it should be a minimal cost relatively speaking. Same with fiscal benefits. Could wait until the next negotiations though and by then those guys would be 70+ so even fewer to give it to. There is value in 'goodwill' - the question is how much.

For minor leaguers maybe pushing MLB to add a benefit of some kind for guys with 10+ years service time in the minors - the number who get that without reaching the majors shouldn't be too high I'd suspect. But as others mention there is no real incentive for players or owners to do so. Sad, but the way things work. Heck, I worked at a place for well over a decade and got no pension, no benefits, nada beyond severance when it ended. No union, no benefits beyond government mandated. That is the way it works.
   13. Jay Z Posted: September 18, 2021 at 09:30 AM (#6040253)
There's probably a decent correlation between guys who washed out of MLB early and guys who suffered major injuries, though.


There likely isn't a correlation. I doubt the major reason players don't make it is injury. It's lack of ability.
   14. Bhaakon Posted: September 18, 2021 at 05:09 PM (#6040312)
That revenue is based on the talent of the star players, not the organizational filler who wash out after 43 days.


It's based on the entirety of organized baseball which requires filler players and short-timers in order to function to the extent needed to make that revenue.

I suspect, though certainly can't prove, that a league made up of up of a handful of all star teams would generate significantly less money for everyone involved even if it allowed the stars to split up the money currently being paid to the lesser lights.

I's also point out that the percentage of even high-earning players who blew through/were defrauded of their money and ended up destitute is astounding. The pension isn't just a reward for bench warmers.
   15. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 19, 2021 at 12:16 PM (#6040400)
Agree, it's why people who complain about "I had to pay for my school loans" are complaining about what is fair.... idiots are idiots. What is right or what can be negotiated are all that matters, not what happened in the past or what is fair.


I mean, dark Satanic Millian nihilism is an ethos, I guess, but those who reject it aren't idiots.
   16. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 19, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6040407)
Say what you will about the tenets of dark Satanic Millian nihilism, at least it's an ethos.
   17. dejarouehg Posted: September 20, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6040526)
I's also point out that the percentage of even high-earning players who blew through/were defrauded of their money and ended up destitute is astounding. The pension isn't just a reward for bench warmers.
That's not as prevalent in MLB; it certainly happens, but not to the extent of the NFL and NBA.

I do feel that MiLB players are gaining momentum in their efforts to obtain some reasonable compensation. It would, of course, be helpful if their MLB brethren were even slightly supportive.

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