Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Minor leaguers get huge raise (not)
This might be the most underwhelming bit of good news you'll ever read:
It's a familiar ritual. Minor leaguers cluster around a trainer or strength coach before each road trip. Names are penned on a sheet of paper as $20 bills—meal money for each day—are handed out. The stacks of twenties, fresh from the bank, are quickly stuffed into wallets, and the bus is boarded.
Long at $20, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that minor league per diem would be increasing by $5 this year. A similar increase was first approved by general managers in 2008, but officials delayed a final vote on the matter due to the uncertain economic environment. The issue was reexamined recently, and according to the Wall Street Journal, MLB owners voted to raise the daily road allotment to $25. The increase will be much welcomed by minor leaguers, as most operate on a tight budget.
"The extra five bucks will make a huge difference," one minor leaguer said. "An eight day road trip will mean an extra $40. That helps more than they will ever know."
The new per diem rate places minor league baseball closer to that allotted college athletes. While the rate varies from school to school, many Division I baseball players receive around $35 per day on road trips. Major league players currently receive $89.50 per day.
Of course, as one high ranking team official pointed out, an increase in per diem means nothing if options are still lacking. If unhealthy food is placed on the spread, and if team hotels are in locations without restaurants nearby, minor leaguers will still be eating microwaveable lasagna and pizza each night.
"That's why we work with clubhouse officials and affiliates on what's served," the official said.
The mind reels. You're spending millions upon millions of dollars every year to draft these guys, and you're happy for them to shovel cheap junk down their pieholes every day? Every one of these guys should be eating at least one brilliantly nutritious meal every day, but really it should be two.
Can you force kids to eat well? Not in the minor leagues. If a 23-year-old with designs on a big contract really wants to subsist on Doritos and french fries, there's not much you can do about it. But what's amazing is how little effort the clubs make to encourage healthy eating. And an extra five bucks a day barely counts as even a baby step.
As I recently mentioned in reference to something else, you'll not find more penny-wise/pound-foolish behavior than in Major League Baseball.