Keeping the Faith
It has been the big news since this morning, when major outlets across the country startd reporting that the Boston Red Sox players voted to boycott their scheduled trip to Japan if Major League Baseball follows through on a late decision to renege on appearance pay for coaches and team staff. ESPN.com reports that MLB appears to have capitulated, which is a good thing because the players were not willing to compromise, according to the Globe's Nick Cafardo
The players are adamant that a $40,000 stipend for coaches and staff was negotiated in their agreement to play in Japan and that it has now been reneged. Third baseman Mike Lowell confirmed to the Globe that the team voted unanimously this morning not to make the scheduled trip unless the situation was rectified.
"When we voted to go to Japan, that was not a unanimous vote," said third baseman Lowell, "but we did what our team wanted us to do for Major League Baseball. They promised us the moon and the stars, and then when we committed, they started pulling back. It's not just the coaches, it's the staff, the trainers, a lot of people are affected by this."
$40,000 is a relatively small amount for the players, even those earning the league minimum of around $400,000 a year. But as manager Terry Francona points out, the coaches and staff aren't paid as well, noting that in some cases, $40,000 may be two-fifths of a coach's salary. Perhaps even more important is the message the decision sends about the value of coaches and other staff. The players' stance seems to have truly touched those affected.
"We all like to feel as if we're part of the team," Alicea said. "We help the players and we appreciate what they're trying to do. We thought this issue was resolved a long time ago. To have it come down to the final day is embarrassing. That's about all I can say about it."
Red Sox batting coach Dave Magadan said he appreciated the players' support.
"It means as much as the money itself," he told ESPN.
The Boston Herald's Rob Bradford and Michael Silverman point out that for at least one member of the Red Sox coaching staff, the appearance fee exceeds his entire salar: bullpen catcher Manny Martinez, who earns $30,000 a year.
Delivering the bad news to the affected individuals fell to Francona, who was quite upset by the turn of events.
"We're spending energy on something we don't want to spend it on. I don't understand it. I was embarrassed this morning. I had to tell them, 'Hey, that money you may have already spent, go get it back.'"
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"I did not have an off day yesterday. I had the phone glued to my ear because I was promised some answers and I haven't even received a phone call," Francona said. "So I’m a little bit stuck. What I want to do this morning is get excited to play a baseball game and what I ended up doing is apologizing to the coaches and being humiliated."
Francona has long been a huge advocate of coaches' rights, executing such deeds as using money from television commercials to pay for the coaches' clubhouse fees, and making sure they all are included in his contract with Reebok.
[ . . . ]
"I don’t agree that coaches are second-class citizens. That has never sat well with me, ever, and continues to boggle my mind."
Speaking just for myself, I would agree with Francona. It's bad enough to back out of any part of an agreement, but to shaft the very people who aren't making millions is particularly repulsive. For the players to take a stand in their behalf, especially one that could potentially resulted in forfeiture of two regular season games, is gratifying to see. Fans prone to complain about the selfishness of highly paid professional athletes would do well to remember this gesture.
Have you seen our video blog?
Thought you (and maybe your readers) would enjoy Manny's secret blog on the humor site News Groper. It should be a fun read throughout the season. Here's the inaugural post that recently went up about the Japan trip ...
My spring training reminiscences will appear sporadically between now and the beginning of the season, but for now, there is news.
The Doug Mirabelli era appears to be over.
The Red Sox have just made Doug Mirabelli's release official. He was placed on unconditional release waivers.
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[Kevin] Cash is a non-roster player, but he had not yet been upgraded to the roster. [H]e appears to be a likely choice to be added, however.
The Sox replaced Mirabelli in [today's] lineup with Pawtucket catcher Dusty Brown, who is also considered a possible candidate for the major league club.