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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Filed Under: baseball, cba, labor, lockout, photos, rosters, website
Companies: mlb


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  • icon
    Boba Fat (profile), 3 Dec 2021 @ 10:53pm

    Oh, no!

    The multi-millionaire owners of a zillion-dollar entertainment business are bickering over how much to pay their multi-millionaire employees to spit, scratch themselves, and occasionally hit a ball and run a bit? How unfortunate for us all!

    Anyway...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Dec 2021 @ 12:10am

    How long until MLB claims copyright on the image?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 4 Dec 2021 @ 3:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LittleCupcakes, 4 Dec 2021 @ 6:27am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 6 Dec 2021 @ 4:19am

      It's a lockout, not a contract termination. Everything stays as it is until the dispute is resolved one way or another. That MLB scrubbed their website was just a dick move in a bid to gain leverage in the negotiations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 4 Dec 2021 @ 7:58am

    What a joke

    These sports lockouts have become a joke. The players will jump in their expensive sports cars and head over to their buddies mansion to play video games. Or, jump on a plane and head to a tropic island beach to relax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 4 Dec 2021 @ 12:41pm

      Re: What a joke

      Your point?

      You're not suggesting that, because the players are rich, that means their demands are unreasonable, are you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pixelation, 4 Dec 2021 @ 3:17pm

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

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 4 Dec 2021 @ 8:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: What a joke

          In a dispute between millionaires and billionaires, I'm gonna side with the ones who do the actual work. Just because they're millionaires doesn't mean the bosses aren't taking advantage of them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Dec 2021 @ 2:00am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2021 @ 4:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2021 @ 3:37am

    I have never heard of European footballers striking, the closest was maybe Messi this year whom debt laden FC Barcelona couldn't afford anymore. So he just moved to another club backed by wealthy oil sheikhs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2021 @ 9:03pm

      Re:

      It's happened a few times. The Italian league went on strike in the late 90s, Norway saw two strikes in 2001? and 2011, Spain also went on strike in 2011. England avoided a strike by a couple days back in the 60s, and Portugal missed several preparation matches in the '86 world cup due to player demands.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 6 Dec 2021 @ 8:27am

    Typo in headline

    Sh🇪nanigans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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