Updated: Feb 27, 2019
The matter of living conditions and pay in the Minor Leagues is no new issue.
The idea that a sport that boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry has employees straddling the line of poverty is an unfortunately common reality. The idea that those employees should have a voice in the matter, though, is less common. And yet, their stories are finally becoming more than whispers.
"What dos this matter? Lots of people are far worse off," you might think.
"They're getting paid to play a game. They should be grateful," I've been told.
"Shut up and dribble" is the popular refrain (or, in this case, pitch, run, hit, etc.).
But, at the root of it all, these arguments miss the point: athlete or accountant, teacher or foreman, people in the work force have stories that deserve to be heard, and basic needs that deserve to be met.
These players don't just want more money to pad their pockets; these players want to be able to support a better life, same as you and I. And for many of them, "better" is based on a pretty low bar.
As Birds on the Black tackles this issue in an ongoing series, we encourage you to think beyond the dollars and cents and find the heart of the issue: real people with real stories, in a real battle with a system that fights against them rather than for them.
To be clear: our fight is not against the game. We -- like the players whose stories we hope to tell -- love the game. But any problem that can be easily labeled as "exploitation" deserves to be addressed.
That is the goal of "Minor Details."
We want to peel back the layers, to shine a light, to give a voice and whatever other cliche you'd like to use. The realities will surprise you. The possible solutions will, too. Be it the legalities of Minor League pay, the real-life stories of Minor League players, or the options available to change the system, our team hopes to bring you all the information you need to understand the issue from all angles.
We know there are plenty of injustices in the world, all worthy as causes to embrace. The baseball community now, though, has the opportunity to embrace one all its own. We want to ask questions, find answers, do research, learn the facts, and understand the stories of professional athletes whose lives are dedicated to their work, but also curbed by their circumstances. Those circumstances are, as far as we're concerned, anything but "minor" details.
Even the Cardinals' own Curt Flood -- in the midst of his own highly controversial campaign for fair wages in the 1960s -- said, "A well-paid slave is, nonetheless, a slave." And that goes far beyond just a game.
With that, I'd like to kick off this series by introducing you to someone who knows the challenges of the Minor Leagues first hand... and he's decided to do something about it.