OT: The Minor League Baseball Crisis
IndiaThe Napolis Indians are a minor league baseball team from the Triple-A East and the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Photo courtesy of insideindianabusiness.com.
DARBY CRAIG | SPORTS JOURNALIST | [email protected]
As I prepared to sing the national anthem on September 19 at Indianapolis Indians game, I took a look at Victory Field. A beautiful stadium with a surprising amount of seating for a Triple-A baseball stadium.
“It’s a perfect day for a baseball game,” I thought to myself. “The weather is nice, it’s a Sunday afternoon, tickets are affordable, what more could you ask for?”
However, a more pressing question kept repeating in my head: where are all the fans?
The match was about to start and the stadium was due to be a full eighth, max. When we finished playing, we only heard the applause of about 1,000 people. While it was a cool experience, it was very disappointing compared to what you think it would be like singing at a professional sporting event. I couldn’t help but think about how this was all a working operation.
Sure, people like me love to come and see prospects show off their talents, but there didn’t seem to be enough fans in the stands for the organization to make a profit. I started to wonder if minor leagues in general are getting enough attention to pay their players well.
After careful research, I discovered the hard truth.
Minor league baseball organizations severely underpay their prospects. According to Athleticism, Minor League baseball players have been severely underpaid and silenced for decades. Unless you are a top prospect, the current average salary for a minor leaguer ranges from $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 per year.
An article written by Chelsea Janes for The Washington Post elaborates more on salary, or lack thereof, in Minor League baseball.
“Many minor league baseball players earn less than minimum wage,” Janes wrote. “Many don’t get paid during spring training or the offseason, although they’re also expected to devote all of their focus to baseball at these times.”
Not only is this a concern for the players as they barely make enough money to live on, but it is also a disheartening problem for baseball fans like me. Through my research, I developed very harsh feelings towards MLB and its inability to support the minor leagues and give these hard-working players the pay they deserve.
I understand MLB handled the pandemic like everyone else. Indeed, according to Illustrated sports, 40 minor league teams were cut this winter due to the massive losses suffered by the COVID-19 virus.
Either way, I think there is no excuse for paying these professional athletes as much as a McDonald’s employee. Major League Baseball must make an effort to help these young players achieve their dreams of one day making it to the big leagues.
After all, most of these players are college age and don’t have time for two jobs when they’re supposed to train and hone their game almost every day. As for the remaining older players on the roster who were stuck in miners for ages, they also need a larger and more consistent salary to support their families.
Therefore, my solution would be for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and his team to come up with a five-year plan that would help the miners recover financially.
The first step would be to find a way to filter the money through the baseball divisions.
The majority of Major League Baseball teams are worth over $ 2 billion, and the remainder over $ 1 billion, or an average of $ 1.9 billion per club. Just take a portion in the next few years from each team and league profits, and spend it on the salaries of underage players. MLB teams will survive, and they won’t take enough to jeopardize their profits.
Next, would be to set a minimum wage for each player’s contract. I believe they should earn at least $ 40,000 a year, a much more manageable salary compared to $ 15,000.
They should also provide housing for the players – which might be more cost effective for the athletes – as they are currently forced to understand their own living conditions. Finding money for housing can be done by promoting Minor League Baseball on a much larger scale using advertisements and social media.
Minor League Baseball should also be open to drastic schedule changes. One idea they should consider is changing their division format to that of European football, where clubs can be promoted or relegated to more or less competitive leagues depending on how successful they have been in the previous season.
Overall, there needs to be more buzz around the minor leagues and what they have to offer. They are talented players and a great brand of baseball to watch. If players don’t get the recognition and pay they deserve, the game will simply start to die. MLB must find an answer to the current crisis and stop treating its employees with so much disrespect.