Eric Sim sends minor leaguers gift cards to help where MLB hasn’t — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

Former minor league catcher Eric Sim urged people to donate gift cards to help players eat. Sim estimates he has sent 35 players cards totaling over $900.

Eric Sim sends minor leaguers gift cards to help where MLB hasn’t — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

By Bill BaerMar 16, 2020, 5:51 PM EDTLeave a comment

The plight of minor league players has increasingly been in the news in recent years, though for all the wrong reasons. After spending years and millions of dollars lobbying Congress, Major League Baseball successfully got language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 amended so that minor leaguers were no longer owed a minimum wage and overtime pay. Last year, we learned that MLB was proposing shrinking the minor leagues by more than 25 percent, eliminating 42 teams. Thankfully, that received pushback and may not ultimately be carried out.

All of that is in addition to minor leaguers already being paid peanuts during the season. Most minor leaguers don’t even make five figures, requiring them to take up part-time jobs during the season as well as in the offseason, when they are expected to continue training. They are not paid for spring training or extended spring training. Now that baseball – both major league and minor league – has pushed back the start of the regular season, minor leaguers face even more uncertainty as they may not be paid as the world deals with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In January, before the U.S. was confronted head-on with COVID-19, former minor league catcher Eric Sim (pictured, in 2010 when he played college baseball with the University of South Florida) suggested ways fans can help out minor leaguers. He tweeted, “If anyone wants to help minor leaguers, it’s not that hard. Reach out to them on social media, buy them some beers, or a meal, or give em Chipotle gift cards so that they can afford guac for once. Minor leaguers don’t expect 1000s of dollars, they appreciate the little things.” And thus, a movement was born. In the ensuing two months, Sim and others provided gift cards to a handful of minor leaguers. A few examples:David Lebron@dlebron93

Big shoutout to @esim69 and the anonymous donors powering minor leaguers through the grind! Huge for the boys! #LFG

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Rick Pitino wants to schedule Kentucky to play Iona, but not Louisville —

Rick Pitino has a new college basketball coaching job, and he hopes John Calipari will consider scheduling Kentucky to play his Iona team.

Rick Pitino wants to schedule Kentucky to play Iona, but not Louisville —

Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Rick Pitino is looking to upgrade the basketball schedule at his new program, Iona. 

“I would love to schedule Kentucky in (Madison Square) Garden in the Jimmy V Classic,” Pitino said Monday morning in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show. “I think that would be a great draw and would be exciting to see. I hope John (Calipari) would entertain that.”

Pitino said Calipari called him on Sunday to congratulate him about his new position.

The suggestion about scheduling Kentucky came after Patrick asked Pitino if he planned to schedule Louisville, where Pitino’s coaching stint ended after multiple scandals.

“No,” Pitino said immediately. “How quick was that answer?”

Pitino had previously told Patrick in a 2018 interview he did not expect to coach in college basketball again after he was fired by Louisville in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, right, shakes hands with Kentucky head coach John Calipari before the first half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game in New Orleans.

He said Monday that testimony in the federal trial resulting from that investigation that he had no direct knowledge of Adidas payments to Louisville player Brian Bowen II’s father was enough to put him back on the radar of college programs. He also had a connection to Iona president Seamus Carey from Carey’s time as president of Transylvania University in Lexington.

More:Rick Pitino ‘incredibly excited’ for new Iona job, his first in college since Louisville

Patrick closed the interview by suggesting a four-team event with Iona and the three teams Pitino previously coached to Final Fours (Kentucky, Louisville and Providence). 

“How about we have Kentucky, Providence, Iona and St John’s?” Pitino countered instead.

The idea of Iona and Kentucky playing might not be as unlikely as it initially seems. While the rivalry between Pitino and Calipari was intense while Pitino was at Louisville, Calipari said in December 2018 he thought Kentucky should honor Pitino for his role in rebuilding the program from probation to the 1996 national title.

“He was with family and he had things going on,” Calipari said when Pitino did not come to Rupp Arena for a celebration of the 1993 UK Final Four team. “I just said, ‘Look, you need to get up here. This will be respectful here.’ What that program did to change this back, we should recognize it. You may be mad he went to coach at Louisville. So, what? When he was here and when we needed this program on a different track, he put it (there).”

Report: Rays giving $800 to minor leaguers to help with expenses — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

The Rays are reportedly giving their minor league players $800 each to help with expenses while most aspects of life are shut down amid COVID-19.

Report: Rays giving $800 to minor leaguers to help with expenses — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

According to a player source for More Than Baseball, an organization focused on assisting minor league players, the Rays will give every one of their minor leaguers $800 in a one-time payment to help with expenses while operations are shut down because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While it is certainly better than nothing, and it’s great that the Rays acted on their own without waiting for a league directive, it is not enough.

The Rays have nine minor league teams, though the lower level teams play fewer games and have fewer roster spots. As a very rough estimate, we may be talking about 250 players, which amounts to a $200,000 overall expenditure for the Rays. Even the small-market Rays have a team value in excess of $1 billion, according to Forbes. A 15-year TV deal with Fox that began last year will pay the Rays $87 million per year on average.

$800 helps, but it barely covers a month of rent, even if a player is sharing an apartment with others. Considering all of the other expenses players have — utilities, Internet, food, transportation/gas, etc. — like all of us, they will tear through that $800 in the first month just for basic living necessities. And they will still be expected to remain in shape despite not being allowed to use team facilities in order to slow the spread of the virus (the right call).

Every team should be following the Rays’ lead here, but the amount given to minor leaguers needs to be much greater than $800. Frankly, the Rays and the 29 other teams can’t afford not to provide more. Some — probably many — of their minor leaguers will have to take public-facing jobs in the interim in order to keep the lights on, like giving instructions, stocking shelves, driving for a rideshare app, etc. In doing so, they become vectors for spreading the infection, making it harder for us to flatten the curve. That’s why some, including Ilhan Omar, have suggested an emergency universal basic income (UBI). There was already a moral imperative before to pay minor leaguers more, but there certainly is now as we stare down the barrel of a pandemic.

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FRIESEN: Jets finally end self-inflicted PR nightmare — Winnipeg Sun

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