Fallout, Etc.

The smoke is clearing on today’s "boycott" threat by the Red Sox — which is really a strike, but that word obviously has some baggage attached to it — so let’s see what we know, as opposed to what was conjectured or reported during the heat of battle this morning:

  • The Red Sox came away from an October conference call having been told everyone traveling with the team would receive $40,000 bonuses for the inconvenience of going to Japan — including coaches, training staff and support staff, for whom that money is obviously a much bigger deal (bullpen catcher Manny Martinez makes $30,000 per year).
  • The money was to come from proceeds earned by MLB for the exhibitions and regular-season games played in Japan.
  • Yesterday, the A’s were informed their coaches would not be paid the $40,000 stipends — which appears to have been a surprise to them. It was certainly a surprise to Terry Francona and the Red Sox players when word trickled from the A’s to the Sox.
  • Nick Cafardo reports the ball may have actually been dropped by the Players Association, which determines the allocation for the pool of money that goes to players and other team personnel. In previous Japan trips — including 2004 between the Yankees and Devil Rays — the coaches’ stipends came from the players’ pool.
  • How much the coaches will ultimately receive is unclear because the amount of money MLB will have to divvy won’t be known until the games are over — but Kevin Youkilis says it could well be greater than $40,000.
  • The Sox’ effort, according to media members interviewed on WEEI as Joe Castiglione and Dale Arnold (who, by the way, sounds great) waited for the game to start, apparently had support of both the Blue Jays and the Athletics.
  • According to The Associated Press, the A’s were prepared to boycott as well, but received word from the Red Sox that "the right thing was going to get done," Huston Street said.
  • All that remains to figure out is whether the coaches were left out accidentally or intentionally — and who was in charge of overseeing that.

It is indeed a good thing for the Red Sox to unite behind the lower-paid and often overlooked members of their team. Attempts here and elsewhere to portray it as a way to get out of the Japan trip, or as a greedy attempt for more money, just don’t make sense, given the comments from other teams and other players — especially those directly affected by the Sox’ actions.

Could the Red Sox have agreed to simply pool their own bonuses and pay the coaches themselves? Of course. Or the front office could have stepped in and agreed to do so. But that’s beside the point. The Red Sox and their players clearly felt their coaches had been promised something. They rightly decided it would not be right to go to Japan until that promise was fulfilled — whether by clearing up a miscommunication or by holding MLB’s feet to the fire.

Knowing MLB could not risk the disaster of losing the exhibitions and regular-season games, the players of both the Red Sox and Athletics used (or were prepared to use) the only leverage they had to rectify what they felt was an egregious wrong — their presence in Japan. Kudos to players from both teams for taking a stand for the "little guys" and fair dealings.

Update: In fact, part of the agreement is that the Red Sox players will pay the $40,000 themselves, with half the money to be reimbursed by MLB and the MLBPA. A terrific, classy move on their part.

16 comments… add one
  • Edited my post a little to better reflect the fact that this could all just be a misunderstanding, as opposed to some nefarious scheme by MLB or MLBPA tos crew the coaches. I actually doubt they tried to do that; incompetence, as opposed to unfairness, seems more their level in situations like this.

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 4:13 pm
  • “…to better reflect the fact that this could all just be a misunderstanding, as opposed to some nefarious scheme by MLB or MLBPA tos crew the coaches….”
    i’m glad you clarified that paul…whenever possible, i’d always rather get both sides of the story before i declare who the “heroes” and “villians” are…i’m assuming mlb either has or will issue their clarification of the issue, so we can have all the facts…then we can draw conclusions about who misunderstood/goofed…is it possible then that all the huffing and puffing by players was unnecessary because of a miscommunication?…yowza!

    dc March 19, 2008, 4:22 pm
  • Well, even if it was unnecessary, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for players to unite behind their coaches to correct what they perceived as a slight.
    Besides, Francona said he tried all day yesterday to get a response from MLB and never got a phone call returned. If it were truly an MLBPA oversight/misunderstanding, why wouldn’t have MLB returned Francona’s call and washed its hands of it?

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 4:25 pm
  • unity’s never a bad thing…but, if the players were put in that position unnecessarily either because their own management screwed up the communications, or mlb or mlbpa screwed up the deal/communications, then that makes a big difference in how you tell the story…that’s what i meant about having all the facts before we declare who the heroes and villians are…mlb’s silence may or may not be indicative of who’s guilty…i’m sure some bored media-type who loves a conspiracy will do some digging for us…

    dc March 19, 2008, 4:35 pm
  • Well, the analysis on ESPN has been decidedly anti-MLB, even while acknowledging it probably wasn’t a malicious incident.
    How does a multibillion dollar industry let these concerns get so pressing that the team is in the position to do this. The A’s and Sox expressed concerns about it yesterday. The Sox made their decision early this morning. It took until early afternoon for MLB (or the MLBPA) to say, “This is a misunderstanding. They’ll get paid, no matter what.”?

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 4:42 pm
  • “…How does a multibillion dollar industry let these concerns get so pressing…”
    amen, and wow…
    thanks for the additional information…yeah, i’d have to agree the players get a tip of the cap for getting this some attention…whether it was malicious or not, that kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen…

    dc March 19, 2008, 4:47 pm
  • I just can’t wait until we have some GAMES to discuss as opposed to all this other stuff…the 31st can’t get here soon enough!!!

    krueg March 19, 2008, 5:05 pm
  • Nice quote from the Blue Jays Manager:
    “You don’t expect to see that, but I was kind of glad it happened and I was kind of impressed with those guys,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “Not only are they a very talented team, they’ve got something special over there. That’s a team. They stuck their necks out for the coaching staff — those guys they admire and stand by — and that helps us all. There’s only two teams that can get away with that: Boston and New York. That’s good to see.”

    rootbeerfloat March 19, 2008, 5:07 pm
  • Well summarized, Paul.

    SF March 19, 2008, 5:33 pm
  • New news from the AP:
    “Major League Baseball agreed to pay the managers, coaches and trainers on the trip $ 20,000 each from management’s proceeds, a person familiar with the agreement said, speaking on condition of anonymity because details weren’t announced. The Red Sox agreed to make up the difference to make the amount equal, and to pay some of the other team personnel making the trip, the person said.”
    So the Red Sox (sounds like it’s the players, but it’s hard to tell) will be paying $20,000 for each coach/trainer/etc.

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 6:17 pm
  • Cafardo in the Globe (linked above) says the Sox players will pay the $40,000 out of their pool, then will be partially reimbursed by MLB and the MLBPA.

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 6:26 pm
  • geez, if the sox wanted to support their coaches maybe they should have had more than three hits today.

    sf rod March 19, 2008, 6:53 pm
  • anybody else hear that Colon is headed to Minor League camp?

    Anonymous March 19, 2008, 6:58 pm
  • Yeah, he’s gonna get some work down there, and then probably join the club in LA.
    The Herald says it’s the club that will pay for the stipends, as opposed to the players. Sounds like someone misunderstood something somewhere… Fitting.

    Paul SF March 19, 2008, 7:14 pm
  • “…Sounds like someone misunderstood something somewhere…”
    as you and i like to say paul: “fun with facts” ….sounds like the players were willing to shell out, so the intentions were good…still wish i was sure who screwed up…for now, i’ll accept that it was mlb that misinformed sox management…

    dc March 19, 2008, 7:19 pm
  • Jesus, what a clusterf*ck, if you pardon the language. It seems the big problem was that nothing was down on paper, it was all a verbal agreement. Who the hell thought that up? I didn’t even know that was legally possible. Hopefully everyone, MLB and management and player representatives (Youkilis and Schilling, I think) included, learned a lesson from this situation.

    AndrewYF March 19, 2008, 9:53 pm

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