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Will Pitch For Food

There’s a recent article out there about a group of minor leaguers trying to take Major League Baseball to court for minimal wages and exploitation.  Apparently they believe they are underpaid and overworked and that the system has long been flawed by allowing the MLB to exploit young players with the hopes of getting to that pot of gold.  I will be the first to tell you that I don’t know the details of the lawsuit but what I do know is baseball doesn’t owe anybody anything.
I started my professional baseball career pulling in $850/month and felt like I was robbing the system because I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to play.  I continued on the minor league pay scale for the next 6 years, never getting “called up” in that time and never getting released so I could negotiate a contract.  I capped out at $2400/month in Triple A during my 6th year.  So there I was, a minor league veteran performing at the same level and putting in the same hours as the free agents making $10k/month and the guys under big league contracts making six figures.  Was it something to complain about?  Maybe.  Did I feel like I deserved to paid more?  Probably.  Was it motivation and fuel for the fire to reach my dreams?  Absolutely.
The truth is, baseball rewards its employees daily with the opportunity to play a game they love.  It allows them to connect with kids at the ballpark and provides an opportunity to “work” in front of thousands of people.  Not your regular day job.  That’s the problem with this lawsuit and the motive for legal action. Major League Baseball has given these guys a very exclusive opportunity that they don’t deserve, that no one deserves and THEY are exploiting it.  You sign a contract and play with the hopes of getting called up and accomplishing something extremely unique.  The possibility of playing in big leagues is more than just a promotion, it’s something that your friends, family, coaches, teachers, teammates, and agents are all a part of because they know the hard work you put in to get there.  The sacrifice, the dedication, and the lack of pay are all well known before you sign your name on that dotted line.  What is there to possibly gain from this lawsuit?  A comfortable salary, paid vacation, or maybe a company car since they’re always on the road?
It may seem like these guys are fighting for all minor league players but when someone asks what you do for a living and the first word is PLAY then its a no-brainer, you simply can’t compare a regular job with PLAYING professional baseball.  It’s like comparing apples to baseballs.  If they really want to fight for something, maybe it shouldn’t be themselves and maybe they should fight for the managers, coaches and trainers.  They’re the ones trying to pay a mortgage and get their kids through college.
Being a professional baseball player is a privilege at any level.  For every player complaining about wages or the hours of work, there are thousands that will gladly take your place for half of what you make and be thankful for the opportunity.  Heck, I’ll do it now.  As my wife says, It’s that generation of entitlement and everyone deserves a trophy attitude.  I agree with her (without her making me).  As several of my managers used to say, if you don’t like it, I have two words for you – PLAY BETTER.

Jimmy Serrano
10yr Minor Leaguer (small cup of coffee in the big leagues, more of an espresso shot)

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