Last month at their Winter Warm-Up, St. Louis Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. spoke in confidence that despite another slow off-season for free agents, he did not believe their would be a labor stoppage
“I don’t,” DeWitt said at the time. “Obviously, each labor agreement is different and there are different concerns on both sides when you get to that point. We’ve got two, three years left before we get into the next agreement. It’s hard to say. The industry has an ebb and flow to it. And we don’t need to tell you guys that two significant free agents out there who haven’t signed. It’s hard to say the reason for it. Others have signed. And I didn’t really expect that they would sign early because that’s just not the style of the group that’s out there.”
Those two free agents are of course Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both of whom remain unsigned. But there are dozens of other free agents still on the market without contracts and we are now just days away from the official report date of position players to Spring Training.
More than one veteran MLB player has spoken out about the situation, with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright being the latest. During an interview with KFNS radio, Wainwright shared concern there could be a player’s strike–even suggesting a fear that some players could walk out mid-season.
Following those comments, Wainwright took to his Twitter account (@UncleCharlie50) to further explain his thoughts on a potential players strike in the future…
1). I’m very grateful for all that has been provided to me through this game. I love being a Cardinals player… and I love that I get to live out my dream everyday.
2). Most people probably just read the headlines and don’t listen to the whole interview. My problem isn’t just with Manny and Bryce. And, to be fair to my critics, I don’t know all the offers they’re getting.
3). Craig Kimbrel is great. Best closer since Rivera and Hoffman probably. Tell me how is it that he doesn’t have a team yet! But let’s talk about players forgotten here… bud Norris was great last year… 28 saves, saved our butts… nobody needs him?
4). The problem isn’t just with the big guys… there are over a 100 quality big leaguers without a job… it’s crazy. So, as an MLB player, it is our brethren we are trying to protect. Ask all of them. I bet 99% of them would tell you this is all they have ever wanted to do
5). Trust me when I tell you this… a strike is NOT what we want to do. We are baseball players. We love the game. We love to play and win for our cities. An amicable agreement is the best thing for baseball. I hope it’s possible. I was a fan in 1994, I remember that well
6). I know many of you think we are an overpaid bunch of whiners. I get that. We play a game… for a living. I won’t lie, this IS a crazy cool job! It’s my dream job. But, how are we different than actors? Or singers? We’re performers! Our job is to bring you entertainment
6 cont’d) our job is to make you smile after a hard days work. To flip a ball into the stands to a little boy or girl that they’ll remember for the rest of their life (I was once that little boy). I remember meeting Lonnie Smith when I was 7 in the Atlanta mall. Coolest day ever!
6 cont’d). My dad left home when I was 3. No good memories of him to speak of except the time he took me to an @MLB game when I was young. Greg Jeffries almost hit a foul ball to me! So close! See, I’m not just a player… I am a huuuge fan of baseball. I get it.
7). Players don’t make ticket prices! Arguing that salaries drive ticket prices? Maybe a little. But, have you seen what the @MBStadium is doing in Atlanta? It costs like $20 to load up your whole family on food there. Guess who made the most $ in food sales last year…
8) I’ll answer my own question: how are we different than actors and singers? We play our entire lives to get a crack at just a few years of payoff. It’s so finite it’s crazy. Average @mlb career is like 3 years. So for every manny and Harper you hear about, there are 1,000’s
8 cont’d) literally thousands of minor leaguers who make pennies an hour every two weeks. My first check in PROFESSIONAL baseball was $304. Luckily, I got a signing bonus. Other players weren’t so lucky and had to quit to pay bills. Minor league baseball players get wayyyyyy
8 cont’d) less than minimum wage. We did the math on our checks one year and it was like less than $2 an hour or something. PS.. rent isn’t paid for, car not paid for, gas? Nope. Clubhouse dues, nada. Benefits… laughable. Minor league motto, “don’t like it, play better).
9). So, all this to say… we as players have to stick together. If you make it through the years of exploitation that is the minor leagues, you just want the chance to make it all worth it. I had that chance. I’d like the next generation to get the same chance.
PS… I wrote all that because I care about the fans of our great game and felt like they needed an explanation. If there are some people who still want to flex their twitter muscles I’ll stick around for a few and respond.
True to his word, Wainwright stayed on social media and fielded a number of questions, in particular those of which took issue with some of his points.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with all or some of his perspective, the comments from Wainwright are yet another example of the very real divide that is growing between the players and ownership.
The current CBA runs through 2021. According to Forbes, MLB received a record $10.3 billion in revenues last year and that did not include an additional $2.58 billion for the sale of BAMTech to Disney so there should be plenty of wealth to share for all involved.
For the sake of all who love baseball, let’s hope they can get things back on track before a labor stoppage comes to fruition.
I’ll keep our owner out of it out of respect to Mr Dewitt as a friend. Let me spin that a different way. What if Hollywood directors and producers did what’s happening in baseball. “Hey Denzel, you’ve gotten too good we can’t pay you this anymore.. we found a different option. https://t.co/Tymi3yp99m
— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) February 16, 2019
photo credit: Jasen Vinlove, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports