Adam Eaton spent all or part of four seasons in the minor leagues before making his major league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2012. He’s obviously no stranger to the conditions faced by minor leaguers, who often end up making much less than minimum wage.
Eaton knows this and doesn’t dispute it. He also thinks it’s a good thing, which, what? If you’re wondering why he could possibly feel that way, here are the relevant quotes, from Kelyn Soong’s piece in the Washington City Paper.
While he believes things can be improved and players should make a little more money so they’re “literally not eating crumbs,” he doesn’t want the MLB to make minor league conditions more hospitable.
“If you do, complacency sets in,” Eaton says. “I think it’s difficult, yes, and it’s easy for me to say that because of where I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am without that … If I financially am supported down there and financially can make a living and not have to get to the big leagues, I think I’m a little more comfortable. I think that I might not work as hard because I know I’m getting a decent paycheck every two weeks, and may not push myself nearly as hard.”
“I don’t disagree with [the notion] that they’re being exploited, but I think it’s for the betterment of everybody,” he adds. “I know it sounds crazy … I think there’s a middle ground … There’s ground to be made up, but I think it still should be rough.”
That’s dumb! The logical fallacies involved are astounding, much less the implication that things like basic living wages and healthy working conditions are not only not rights for everyone, but that everyone should suffer because without that suffering no one would be successful.
There are so many fallacies here, chief among them the inherent notion that comfortable athletes don’t keep working, coming from a guy making a lot of money.
Eaton saying if he makes a comfortable paycheck he won't work as hard isn't exactly an endorsement for his quality of work on his current contract https://t.co/HceIq8D9GH
— Craig Goldstein (@cdgoldstein) June 23, 2019
In addition to that, what Eaton is failing to consider is that conditions aren’t uniform throughout the minors. Some players signed for big money out of the draft, some players came from backgrounds that gave them nothing. The idea that minor league players, if paid a fair wage, given decent meals, and housed appropriately would suddenly decide en masse that “Actually, no, I’d rather not make the major leagues after all!” is hilariously misguided.
First, there’s the fact that these jobs are still limited and not guaranteed; if you’re not playing well, you’re not keeping a roster spot! If anything it makes competition tougher, because more people can afford to keep trying to develop. Second, no one dreams of playing in the Midwest League, as nice as some of the stadiums can be now.
What a reformed minor league compensation scale would do is to raise the floor up, which helps everyone equally. That’s not a bad thing.