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SportsMLB players are furious, willing to strike over economic system: 'We're all united'

17:16  10 july  2019
17:16  10 july  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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We ’ re all united ." “The players are very cognizant what’s going on with economic situations because it’s not just affecting the peripheral players , its affecting every player . There have been no promises of re-opening the collective bargaining agreement, but the two sides at least are willing to

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CLEVELAND — There are no threats, no allusions of intimidation ... really, not even raised voices.

Yet there also is not the slightest tinge of fear.

Major League Baseball players representing their brethren at the All-Star Game in Cleveland made it quite clear this week that they want changes, big-time changes, in the next collective bargaining agreement, or there will be significant consequences.

Yes, even if it takes a work stoppage before the CBA expires Dec. 1, 2021 — the first strike in baseball since 1994-95.

“We are together on this," Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Josh Bell told USA TODAY Sports. “I know work stoppages in the past have worked to our benefit for the longevity of the game, the longevity of the player, and for the compensation of the player. Just for equal rights.

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USA TODAY Sports Major League Baseball columnist, Entercom Radio Sports Insider, MLB Network Insider, BBWAA Arizona chapter chairman, HOF voter, father/husband. There are pitchers making 0,000 per start .there are very few economic hardships, if any, in baseball for the players .

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“We’ve met for years for preparation, and we’ll definitely see what happens in the future. Hopefully we can find common ground, but if not, we’re more than prepared. The one thing we’ve been taught, and we’ve heard it countless times, is to save your money the best you can because you never know what the future holds."

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There’s not a single active player who has endured a work stoppage. The average age of the National League’s starting lineup was 25.8, the youngest in baseball history.

They certainly aren’t eager to be the first class to end labor peace, but then again, they’re ready to take whatever step is necessary to restore cracks in their economic system.

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MLB players are ready to 'burn the whole system down.' We ’ re willing to go multiple years and I don’t know if (owners) are willing to sacrifice.” Neshek, 39, who expects he’ll retire (or be forced into it) after the 2020 season, joins Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in his explicit use of the s-word, a tack

“We're very concerned. It’s been a little lopsided the last couple of years," Boston Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez said, “and I know the association definitely wants to do something about it."

Does that mean a willingness to strike?

Absolutely.

“We’re all together," Martinez said. “We all understand it. There’s a thought that the association is weaker than its ever been because of all of the younger players, but I think a lot of young players are beginning to understand. We’re all united."

Said Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole: “We really respect the people that come before us who have put us a position we’re in now. We’re extremely fortunate, so we would like to pass that tradition onto the next generation of players.

“So when push comes to shove, I think we’ll be prepared to do whatever we need to do to keep that honor continuing down the line. We have a great tradition doing it, and I don’t think we plan on deviating from that anytime soon."

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MLB , reportedly, considered that to be insubordination. Following that first weekend, the testing mostly stabilized and the messaging largely unified. And now the Nationals. With the Marlins’ schedule paused until next week, this particular confrontation will be avoided, but further outbreaks could bring

We are going to be open-minded, we are going to be thoughtful and measured in terms of what we do as we approach the deadline, all with the eyes LABOR: Players are furious , willing to strike over economic system . In many ways, Van Wagenen on Friday confirmed an organizational shift to begin

The belief among the players was always that the owners would hold the power over them when they first entered the league, paying close to the minimum salary as long as possible. But once they became free agents, they’d open those checkbooks.

“So, underpaid on your way in and overpaid on your way out, relatively speaking," Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw said.

Teams no longer view free agents the same, particularly those in their 30s.

“Our free agency structure and our salary structure," Kershaw said, “is that teams have a right not to pay guys when they’re getting older. The analytics say to pay guys in their prime, the younger guys.

“So, if that’s not going to happen anymore, we’ve got to find a way to get these guys paid during their peak years if they’re’ not going to be rewarded on the way out.’’

Said Martinez: “Teams don’t want to pay players late, and they don’t want to pay them early, but you got to pick one. You got to pick your poison."

Two dozen All-Stars were making the minimum salary of $555,000, but by the time they’re eligible for free agency and potential massive paydays, they may be passed over for the next generation.

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Players were furious that the two biggest stars of the home-run derby, Pete Alonso of the New York Mets and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays, were stuck in the minors last season instead of being among the September call-ups and gaining service time.

Alonso made the Mets' opening-day roster this year, but the Blue Jays kept Guerrero in the minors until mid-May, ensuring they could have an extra year of control before he hits free agency.

“The people that pay tickets deserve to see the best possible product that the team can put on a field," Cole said, “and unfortunately in this day and age, it’s just not happening on a regular basis by a good portion of the league.

“It’s just disappointing to see. You’re coming to major-league games to see the best players, and at least 50% of the league doesn’t give a (expletive) about winning or having their best players on the field. What are we doing? What are we doing? Come on."

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant had to play the waiting game in 2015, sitting out the first two weeks before being called up. He now can't be a free agent until 2022.

“It stinks when you go through it, you feel for them, because I was disappointed too," Bryant said. “It’s a little backwards, but that’s the way our sport is"

MLB All-Stars couldn’t help but be envious last week when NBA players were being signed in the first hours of free agency, with teams storming the free-agent doors like it’s a Black Friday sale after Thanksgiving.

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In baseball, free agency became a drawn-out, excruciating process. The two biggest deals with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, paying them a total of $630 million, weren’t done until after the start of spring training. Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and saves leader Craig Kimbrel didn’t even sign until a month ago.

“How to solve some of our economic challenges is going to be paramount in our next negotiations with MLB," Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer said. “The players are very cognizant what’s going on with economic situations because it’s not just affecting the peripheral players, its affecting every player.

“And every player is aware what’s going on. Every player is extremely much more educated than they ever were before. There’s much better leadership even among the players now and what we’re trying to do to make the correct changes within the game."

The biggest problem, the players believe, simply is competitive balance. There are seven teams at the All-Star break already 17 ½ or more games out of first place, including five teams who are on pace to lose at least 100 games.

“I think the most overarching thing is competition," Kershaw said. “You got to get 30 teams competing the best you can. The strategy now is if you’re not going to be in it, to just be out of it, and get rewarded for that.

“A lot of those teams might end up becoming better with all of the draft picks that they’re getting, but some of them are not. The Cubs and Astros of the world, they (won World Series), but a lot of teams won’t be. How do you end up selling that to your fan base?

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“Competition and paying guys go hand-to-hand to some extent. We’ve got to find a way to get every team competing to some extent every year."

If all 30 teams were trying to win, it would at least make free agency more interesting, preventing players such as five-time All-Star Adam Jones sitting without a job until mid-March. He eventually signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, accepting a $14 million pay cut.

“I just can’t understand what happened to Adam Jones," Cole said, “I still can’t wrap my head around that. "If you’re trying to win, that guy knows how to win. If you’re trying to start a franchise, that guy knows how to be an exemplary franchise player.

“It’s ridiculous that a player like that gets pinched out. It’s equally as ridiculous that a player like Vladimir has to wait half a year until he gets called up."

The players want change, and they want it now, refusing to sit back and wait until the CBA expires after the 2021 season. Executive director Tony Clark has had one preliminary meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, and they plan to meet formally again this summer.

There have been no promises of re-opening the collective bargaining agreement, but the two sides at least are willing to talk, realizing the sense of frustration by the players.

“As players, we don’t want a stoppage," Martinez said. “And I’m sure the owners don’t want one either. But some things are going to have to get negotiated."

Perhaps, before it’s too late.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB players are furious, willing to strike over economic system: 'We're all united'

Related slideshow: The 2019 MLB season (Provided by imagn)

MLB players are furious, willing to strike over economic system: 'We're all united'

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