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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

‘What are we, interns?’: Dodgers prospects work to make ends meet – The Athletic

I’m OK with smaller farm systems as long as the remaining players get paid a lot better. It makes sense for teams and for players. It’s understandable owners aren’t fans of losing their affiliations with MLB teams.

So he believes Major League Baseball’s teams are hurting themselves by declining to better compensate minor-leaguers, or at least accommodate them in the offseasons.

“You would be lying if you said baseball wasn’t a full, year-round job,” de Geus said. “But we’re being paid like it’s not. What are we, interns? Seasonal workers?”

And because many of his peers cannot develop in the offseason due to financial constraints, de Geus went as far as to offer a concession: Do what the Dodgers do, he suggested, and do it on a larger scale. At least provide training for every minor-leaguer.

“There’s too many options available for the system to justify doing nothing, to stay in the state it’s in right now,” de Geus said. “Maybe don’t even pay guys. But encourage them to go to an actual trainer, or an actual coach, who can actually help the development process, and reimbursing it. That would be a nice consolation.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2020 at 06:08 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor league pay, pay site

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   1. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: January 22, 2020 at 06:59 AM (#5918138)
I’m OK with smaller farm systems as long as the remaining players get paid a lot better.

I want more baseball teams (heck, I want a baseball team on every street corner) AND i want them paid a lot better. It's not like the MLB owners are starving or anything...
   2. Accent Shallow hits your blindside Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:18 AM (#5918152)
I want more baseball teams (heck, I want a baseball team on every street corner) AND i want them paid a lot better. It's not like the MLB owners are starving or anything...


Ding.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:37 AM (#5918157)
“You would be lying if you said baseball wasn’t a full, year-round job,”

No you wouldn't. Baseball players are not spending 8 hours a day working out in the off-season, especially not minor leaguers.

What are we, interns? Seasonal workers?”

Yes. That's exactly what you are. Most minor leaguers are equivalent to the interns, and wannabe actors/actresses/musicians that latch onto to high profile industries for an infinitesimal shot at stardom. In other industries those people wait tables and tend bar to pay the bills while they perform.

The minor leaguers who don't fit that mold (i.e. the ones that MLB thinks are any good) get six to seven figure signing bonuses and can afford not to work in the off-season.

The top 200 picks last year got $231,000 or more in bonus. Those guys can easily subsidize 4 or 5 years in the minors. Down to 317 they got $142,000 or more. Those guys can afford to give it 2 or 3 years.

If you're not in the 317 best players from the U.S. (given that 50% of minor leaguers are foreign players) you should probably quit and go to school or get a job.
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:40 AM (#5918161)
[3]Yeah, it's sad they don't get paid enough only to play their child's game.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:44 AM (#5918163)
I want more baseball teams (heck, I want a baseball team on every street corner) AND i want them paid a lot better. It's not like the MLB owners are starving or anything...

Sure, I'm pretty much always in favor of owners (in any industry) taking less profit and treating their workers better. But, boy, it rarely happens.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:49 AM (#5918171)
I’m OK with smaller farm systems as long as the remaining players get paid a lot better. It makes sense for teams and for players.

I want more baseball teams (heck, I want a baseball team on every street corner) AND i want them paid a lot better. It's not like the MLB owners are starving or anything...


Me too.

It does make sense to contract teams. It probably doesn't make sense to pay players more.

However, making sense isn't always best for everyone involved. It's best for the owners, but not all stakeholders. "Makes sense" is a slippery slope to the type of hardline uberefficiency that results in, well, mass layoffs, growing income equality, etc. I will vote for senselessness.
   7. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2020 at 09:50 AM (#5918173)
wannabe actors/actresses/musicians that latch onto to high profile industries for an infinitesimal shot at stardom. In other industries those people wait tables and tend bar to pay the bills while they perform


The minor league player who rides the bus overnight between medium sized towns is not in the same position as the guy who gets called to cast for a commercial once a week.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 10:01 AM (#5918192)
The minor league player who rides the bus overnight between medium sized towns is not in the same position as the guy who gets called to cast for a commercial once a week.


Seems like a silly quibble. It's similar to the kid in the publishing industry that has to read 400 pages per night after his day ends, it's similar to the wannabe singer that's in the chorus of a traveling Cirque du Soleil production, or an understudy in a traveling Les Miserables production or whatever. Lots of these jobs have immense time commitments.

When I was a young cook at a great restaurant I worked "off the clock" (in addition to my very stressful and taxing 40-50 hour job with terrible hours and terrible compensation) in order to move up the totem pole faster. No travel, but otherwise seems broadly similar to the baseball player's plight.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5918198)
The minor league player who rides the bus overnight between medium sized towns is not in the same position as the guy who gets called to cast for a commercial once a week.

He is in terms of his value to his employer/industry. If he insists on $40K per year plus benefits, he won't be employed at all.

Seems like a silly quibble. It's similar to the kid in the publishing industry that has to read 400 pages per night after his day ends, it's similar to the wannabe singer that's in the chorus of a traveling Cirque du Soleil production, or an understudy in a traveling Les Miserables production or whatever.

Yes.
   10. . Posted: January 22, 2020 at 10:11 AM (#5918204)
“You would be lying if you said baseball wasn’t a full, year-round job,” de Geus said. “But we’re being paid like it’s not. What are we, interns? Seasonal workers?”


Subsidized workers.

And interns don't get paid at all, you dope.
   11. jmurph Posted: January 22, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5918223)
And interns don't get paid at all, you dope.

Interns get paid, well, in many, many industries.
   12. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5918231)

When I was a young cook at a great restaurant I worked "off the clock" (in addition to my very stressful and taxing 40-50 hour job with terrible hours and terrible compensation) in order to move up the totem pole faster. No travel, but otherwise seems broadly similar to the baseball player's plight.
'

And you should have been appropriately compensated for that.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5918243)

If you're not in the 317 best players from the U.S. (given that 50% of minor leaguers are foreign players) you should probably quit and go to school or get a job.

de Geus is in the somewhat unusual position of having been a 33rd round draft pick but then having an excellent sophomore season in the minors. I assume he's one of the top 317 now, but wasn't when he was drafted, so he still gets paid like he isn't. It's a crappy situation for him driven by the reserve clause, but at this point he should absolutely still be shooting for that spot in MLB. Maybe he made a terrible decision at draft time and just got lucky, or maybe he was right to believe in his own potential when others didn't.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:16 AM (#5918245)
And you should have been appropriately compensated for that.
Exactly. A better world would be one in which moving up the totem pole doesn't require working "off the clock," and employers are required to compensate employees for the full benefit of their work. "I had to suffer, so others should similarly have to suffer" isn't the best way to look at things.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:20 AM (#5918250)
Exactly. A better world would be one in which moving up the totem pole doesn't require working "off the clock," and employers are required to compensate employees for the full benefit of their work. "I had to suffer, so others should similarly have to suffer" isn't the best way to look at things.


That wasn't my position, to be clear. I wish that interns and baseball players alike were paid more.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5918253)
As for whether or not I should have been paid for my hours off the clock, that's somewhat questionable. While I did provide useful work it was also a tremendous learning opportunity, which I considered the appropriate compensation at the time. I was never compelled to take those extra hours, and could have advanced in the company without taking them. They just helped me both by teaching new skills and by signaling that I was highly motivated.

Of course, at this point the analogy is totally broken. What I was doing then was more or less like taking extra batting practice or extra grounders.

There are many jobs where the "off the clock" hours are considered obligatory. That practice is evil. If the unpaid "extra" batting practice is actually necessary - if the few players that don't take part are disadvantaged for it - then that's garbage.

Some gray areas here though. Even if I didn't feel that I should've been paid for those hours, it's still a crappy situation if I'm able to take those hours but another person, who perhaps needs to have a second job or care for a family member, cannot.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5918261)
As for whether or not I should have been paid for my hours off the clock, that's somewhat questionable. While I did provide useful work it was also a tremendous learning opportunity, which I considered the appropriate compensation at the time. I was never compelled to take those extra hours, and could have advanced in the company without taking them.
Fair enough.
They just helped me both by teaching new skills and by signaling that I was highly motivated.
And fair enough with respect to the first clause...but the second one is a red flag. It's dangerous when "motivation" is seen as correlating with being willing/able to sacrifice more and more of your non-work hours and life. For example, is it OK that other employees who are in different life situations are forced to compete with a young, single kid who has nothing else going on? (Hypothetically, not that you were necessarily that kid). A lot of people are just as motivated to be excellent employees, but also want to [be a good parent/have some sanity/etc. etc.].

EDIT: I see you added a sentence at the end that speaks to this.
   18. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5918266)
I think that a lot of these guys don't rise to the level of interns. A lot are just fodder providing the interns with an entry level to rise above
   19. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:49 AM (#5918274)
For example, is it OK that other employees who are in different life situations are forced to compete with a young, single kid who has nothing else going on? (Hypothetically, not that you were necessarily that kid).


Why wouldn't it be? If I determine that the young, single kid who has nothing else going on is likely to contribute more value to my company as a function of his motivation and life situation, why wouldn't I hire or promote him or her as opposed to someone else? Your life situation is your problem, not anyone else's.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5918277)

Why wouldn't it be? If I determine that the young, single kid who has nothing else going on is likely to contribute more value to my company as a function of his motivation and life situation, why wouldn't I hire or promote him or her as opposed to someone else? Your life situation is your problem, not anyone else's.


How can you avoid it? People willing to work longer/harder, to travel, to do shitty jobs, will always be worth more to employers.

We all make trade-offs in life. I rather make what I make and work 45 hours a week, than make double and work 70 (which I could have done with different career choices).
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5918288)
Why wouldn't it be? If I determine that the young, single kid who has nothing else going on is likely to contribute more value to my company as a function of his motivation and life situation, why wouldn't I hire or promote him or her as opposed to someone else? Your life situation is your problem, not anyone else's.
Sorta depends on whether you believe in the concept of society, or just a collection of individuals making up a capitalist enterprise. I opt for the former.
   22. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5918296)
I believe that to be a false dichotomy, but if you're going to present it like that, then sure, I'll opt for the latter.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:24 PM (#5918297)
How can you avoid it? People willing to work longer/harder, to travel, to do shitty jobs, will always be worth more to employers.

I think a reasonable question is whether it's good long-term for the business. Churning through a bunch of hungry 21-year olds who mostly get burnt out and leave by age 23 may be good in terms of minimizing the cost of entry-level labor, but it selects for certain traits that aren't the most important ones you need in your more senior employees. So you may drive away the people who could be the best employees down the road. This has certainly been a concern in my sector.

It also disproportionately drives away women, so if you think there's benefit (to your business or to society more broadly) to having a diverse workforce again it may not be optimal.
   24. Flynn Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:28 PM (#5918298)
I believe that to be a false dichotomy


Why? You just said you don't care about anybody else's life situation.
   25. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:31 PM (#5918301)
No I didn't.
   26. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5918305)
I think a reasonable question is whether it's good long-term for the business. Churning through a bunch of hungry 21-year olds who mostly get burnt out and leave by age 23 may be good in terms of minimizing the cost of entry-level labor, but it selects for certain traits that aren't the most important ones you need in your more senior employees. So you may drive away the people who could be the best employees down the road.


I didn't mean to comment specifically on the strategy of hiring young, single, unattached folks. Maybe that's a good practice for some businesses, and for some others, maybe not. My point was that a company is right to favor the candidate who provides them with the most value, however they see fit to determine that. That can be short-term, long-term, etc.

What I meant by this sentence:

If I determine that the young, single kid who has nothing else going on is likely to contribute more value to my company as a function of his motivation and life situation, why wouldn't I hire or promote him or her as opposed to someone else?


... is this generalization:

If I determine that [Person X] on is likely to contribute more value to my company as a function of [whatever my criteria are], why wouldn't I hire or promote him or her as opposed to someone else?
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5918309)
My point was that a company is right to favor the candidate who provides them with the most value, however they see fit to determine that. That can be short-term, long-term, etc.
Are there no interests worth serving/protecting other than those of the company?
   28. flournoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:47 PM (#5918313)
There could be. But you'd need to be pretty clear about what those are if you're going to compel others to serve them, just to start out.
   29. . Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:49 PM (#5918316)
Are there no interests worth serving/protecting other than those of the company?


There absolutely are. I'd start with the interests of the home nation's workers vis-a-vis the workers of other nations, and build out from there. I'd probably then move to the distributive injustice in income between senior management and employees.
   30. McCoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 12:51 PM (#5918318)
I got a job as a line cook back in the day at a Mobil rated 4 star restaurant (back when that meant something). The owner was very strict about 8 hour work days to the point where in one of my first weeks I got a paycheck with 39.5 hours in it despite working 42 hours that week. When I inquired I was told that was because they automatically deduct 30 minutes each day for break regardless of whether or not we take a break. Which I had not because the work swamped me. Virtually all other hourlies actually came in a couple hours earlier each day and worked off the clock. I said eff that to all of it. I said I wasn't working off the clock and I was taking the break you're deducting from me. If I got behind on the work needed to get the task done so be it. Come 4 o'clock I would be going "Chef, need help on dumplings. Chef, need help on shallots" so on and so on. Pretty soon the rest of the hourlies saw that I wasn't coming in early so they all stopped as well. Was able to get some changes made as well. For instance the owner used to buy unpeeled shallots and garlic and have the cooks peel all that and then chop it up. Was able to get them to buy peeled shallots and garlic.

Anyway, within a year I was moved up to sous chef and then within another year chef de cuisine. You really don't need to work for free to move up the kitchen ladder. You have to care, you have to be reliable, you have to consistently produce, and you have to have the skills. Now if it takes you 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for a year to get those skills rather than 8 hours a day for 5 days a week then it's your call.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:02 PM (#5918322)
Virtually all other hourlies actually came in a couple hours earlier each day and worked off the clock. I said eff that to all of it. I said I wasn't working off the clock and I was taking the break you're deducting from me. If I got behind on the work needed to get the task done so be it. Come 4 o'clock I would be going "Chef, need help on dumplings. Chef, need help on shallots" so on and so on. Pretty soon the rest of the hourlies saw that I wasn't coming in early so they all stopped as well.

Good for you.

I was a newer and profoundly inexperienced employee in a kitchen filled with very talented people that had worked there for years. Competitive environment. I wasn't about to play Spartacus. Had I done so, the chef would have put me in a position to fail, allowed me to fail, and fired me. Very talented chef, but a narcissist, with some autocratic tendencies. People tolerated some of his bad tendencies because he was terrific in other ways.
   32. McCoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:17 PM (#5918337)
At the time the Four Seasons in Philadelphia was the kitchen to work in. They forced people to work off the clock. But it was all a bluff or was only real if you let it happen. Around about 2000 they got hit with a lawsuit and lost because of the unpaid OT. People were getting paychecks that hadn't worked there for years. It only happens if you let it happen.

My view was simple. I had a to do list put together everyday and I kept a record of it. If they were going to fire me for not keeping up they were going to lose that case or at the very least I was going to get unemployment. I was young and wasn't paying to support a family. What did I care? But the reality was if they had tried to fire me they were opening a huge can of worms because they would have been dead in the water with all of the unpaid hours. They knew it which is why in the end they changed.


If you look at it I guess from a baseball prospect perspective then if you're a 20th round draftee you're probably going to have to work your butt off and get meager wages to move up but that's primarily because you lack the skills or knowledge. If you're a second round draft pick you don't need to scrape by on meager wages and hope that the team that drafted you isn't deep at third base (the position you play).
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:17 PM (#5918339)
I think a reasonable question is whether it's good long-term for the business. Churning through a bunch of hungry 21-year olds who mostly get burnt out and leave by age 23 may be good in terms of minimizing the cost of entry-level labor, but it selects for certain traits that aren't the most important ones you need in your more senior employees. So you may drive away the people who could be the best employees down the road. This has certainly been a concern in my sector.

It also disproportionately drives away women, so if you think there's benefit (to your business or to society more broadly) to having a diverse workforce again it may not be optimal.


Right. And companies don't generally exclusively hire those type of people, because they want a mix of skills and experience.

But some do. I-Banking and Consulting and white shoe law firms are basically exclusively populated with young single people with no lives, and older (mostly male) partners who still work crazy hours and travel, and often have a stay at home wife to manage the rest of their lives. I don't see how you stop that.
   34. McCoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:31 PM (#5918351)
If a young 22 year old can do the job of a 47 year and do it at less pay then of course a business would be crazy not to hire the 22 year old. Usually the 47 year old brings experience, knowledge of the field, connections, and reliability to their job which is why they don't get laid off every summer as kids from college graduate. 22 year olds may be eager and energetic but they also flake out at a high rate, make mistakes at higher rates, and require more training and resources generally than a vet. A 47 year old employee as survived the crucible of youth and your business/industry indoctrination. They are a known product. That has value.

For what it's worth the vast majority of business travelers for corporations are not 25 year olds or 30 year olds. They are 35 to 55 year olds. You get some 25 year olds occasionally but they are generally assistants to directors and such and they don't travel as often unless it is their job to attend offsite events and work them.
   35. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:55 PM (#5918362)
My view was simple. I had a to do list put together everyday and I kept a record of it. If they were going to fire me for not keeping up they were going to lose that case or at the very least I was going to get unemployment. I was young and wasn't paying to support a family. What did I care? But the reality was if they had tried to fire me they were opening a huge can of worms because they would have been dead in the water with all of the unpaid hours. They knew it which is why in the end they changed.


Yes, I wish I had this perspective at the time. When I said "good for you" I wasn't be sarcastic. Good for you, really. This is what you should have done.

At my first job they also stole hours from us (that is, I'd work 6 hours of overtime, but on my pay stub there'd only be 2-3). This of course is not just flagrantly illegal but totally reprehensible. But as I said, the restaurant was an extraordinary learning opportunity, and I didn't want to butt heads with the chef or rock the boat. In retrospect what I should have done was collect all my clock out slips, all my pay stubs, and upon my (amicable) departure should have kindly asked the owner (who I liked and who may have been unaware of the practice) for what he owed me plus interest.

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