A little over one year ago, Minor League Baseball players announced that they had unionized under the banner of the Major League Baseball Players Association. MLB, to its credit, voluntarily recognized this historic moment, and prepared to meet the players at the bargaining table. This past spring, the MLBPA and MLB would agree to and ratify the first-ever collective bargaining agreement by and for these players. A historic moment, a real signifier of the change that’s happening in the league, whether MLB wants it to or not.


Part of MLB’s playing nice with minor leaguers when they had not with the major league portion of the PA in the months before that—you know, the ones where the owners locked the players out in an attempt to break the union’s power—was because of who was watching. In part, it’s because fans were more aware in 2022 about the plight of minor leaguers than they had been in, say, 2012, or even 2017. But as more about the working and living conditions of these players came to light through the work of both journalists and organizations like Advocates for Minor Leaguers, as it became clear that almost none of these players were making anything approaching a living wage, MLB began to lose the PR battle and ceded ground all over the place. Giving players a significant raise across the board, paying for player housing, streamlining the travel schedule, trying to guarantee that better and more meals would be provided by teams, and so on. This was all done to appease the growing mob, and to keep players from taking that next step of unionizing. In the long run, appeasement doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying in an effort to resist giving up control.

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