If MLB Thought Its Website Shenanigans Would Intimidate MLB Players, That Plan Has Backfired

from the swing-and-a-miss dept

We had just discussed some actions Major League Baseball has taken on its MLB.com website which is either fallout from the labor lockout currently going on or MLB playing leverage games with players, depending on your perspective. Essentially, MLB scrubbed most of its website, particularly on the home and “news” pages, of references to any current players. Instead, those pages are full of stories about retired players, candidates for the Hall of Fame, and that sort of thing. In the tabs for the current rosters, the site still has all of the names of players listed, but has replaced each and every player headshot with a stock image of a silhouette. MLB says it was doing this to ensure that no player “likenesses or images” are considered in use for commerce or advertising… but that doesn’t make much sense. The names are still there and this specific section is a factual representation of current team rosters.

Instead, this appears to be a small part of a strong-arming tactic, in which MLB is flexing its ability to scrub its and individual team sites of information and, in this case, pictures of players. But if MLB thought that it was going to cause the players any real pain by removing those headshots from the site, well, many players went ahead and proved on Twitter that, well, not so much.

A bunch of players, including [Noah] Syndergaard, joined in on the fun by using their new headshot as a Twitter avatar.

It’s way more widespread than that. Players all over Twitter and elsewhere took to replacing their own social media avatars with the silhouette “headshot”. It became very clear that the players were simply poking MLB in the eye, despite the league trying to punish players over these labor negotiations.

Which is yet another PR hit to the league. It’s worth keeping in mind that this is not a player strike; it is a owners lockout. That becomes very important in the wake of the last labor stoppage MLB had, which was the disastrous players strike in 1994. Because that was a player strike, the public very much blamed the players for the loss of an MLB season. That’s not the case here, where the owners are crying poor to the players union while also spending millions and millions of dollars to gobble up free agents just before the previous CBA expired.

With labor issues like this in professional sports, optics is everything. MLB only recovered from the last stoppage thanks to a steroid-driven homerun race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, among others. You can damn well bet that the league doesn’t want anything remotely like that to happen again, which means it can’t let the public’s anger get out of control.

And a few days in, having the players publicly mocking MLB’s tactics on a platform designed to engage directly with the public and fans is not a good start if the league expects to have any of the sentiment out there falling in its favor.

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Companies: mlb

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Comments on “If MLB Thought Its Website Shenanigans Would Intimidate MLB Players, That Plan Has Backfired”

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RP says:

Re: Oh, no!

Each team has about 26 major league players and 116 minor league players (of which 14 are subject to collective bargaining on the "40 man roster"), and a fourteen year contract. There is no job security or actions a player can take to ensure promotion.

About 71.8% earn between $8k-12k a year (April-August).
About 9.9% earn between $12k-$563k a year
About 9.2% earn between $563.5k-1100k a year
About 6.7% earn between $1100k-$10000k a year
About 1.9% earn between $10000k-25000k a year
About 0.5% earn over $25000k a year.


Upstream (profile) says:

Just say "No!"

Like so many things, if enough people would just quit caring about, paying attention to, buying into, and feeding this nonsense it would all just go away. MLB has legalized monopoly status, which would be unthinkable in most other contexts. It often uses local tax dollars to fund stadiums which primarily benefit zillionaire team owners and their associated crony capitalists, which, again, would be completely unacceptable in most other contexts.

Let’s all just show MLB the door to oblivion, and shove the NFL and the NBA out that door, too, while we are at it.

Together, these three societal parasites constitute a significant portion of the mind-muddling, distracting circuses Juvenal warned us about.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

LittleCupcakes says:

I presume that the author of this piece has investigated the specific legal issues involved with the CBA, or has spoken with a lawyer with knowledge about them.

I would point out to the author that the use of likenesses are protected by trademark and copyright law in general and the CBA might have further protections, and statistics are not so protected.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What a joke

"What I’m saying is, the majority of them have so much money that it isn’t a huge deal for them"

While I appreciate the sentiment, not only do people have the right to what they’ve agreed to be paid in their contract no matter how many zeroes are at the end of the number, it’s also important for the higher paid employees to speak up if they are being screwed over. If they’re treating their most valuable, highest paid employees in this way, imagine how they’re treating those with less power. It’s the same issue as with Scarlett Johansson’s battle with Disney over Black Widow – maybe she doesn’t personally need the money but examples have to be set to ensure that the much wealthier employers aren’t screwing over those without a voice.

It’s hard to cry any tears over multi-millionaires not being able to access money that most of us will never see in our lifetime, but not everyone working for these organisations fit in that category – and even if they were, if you’re defending the right for billionaires to hoard even more money than they do already just because the people they’re hoarding it from aren’t going to starve as a result, you might not be on the right side of the argument.

"Also, everyone knows that a deal will get made in the end"

Then, the problem is still with the employer who is dragging out the inevitable, not the people drawing attention to the issues.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Right, baseball doesn’t want another terrible fiasco like a home run record chase. That’s why they juiced the baseballs and even went as far as to use two different types of balls without telling players. And the evidence seems to indicate they were likely sending balls that flew further to prime time series to make sure some bombs get hit for the fans.

Just letting everyone do steroids is a lot better idea than anything Manfred has come up with so far.

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