Baseball's Back, Alright! | Crooked Media
Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW! Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW!
March 15, 2022
What A Day
Baseball's Back, Alright!

In This Episode

  • On Monday, delegations from Russia and Ukraine met again for talks in hopes of reaching a ceasefire, but the negotiations ended without reaching an agreement. Meanwhile, Russia expanded its missile attacks even further, hitting quiet residential neighborhoods in Kyiv and other cities.
  • After 99 days, the Major League baseball lockout ended last Thursday with a full season set to begin on April 7. Hannah Keyser, a baseball writer for Yahoo Sports, joins us to discuss what comes next and what it all means.
  • And in headlines: authorities in New York and Washington D.C. are looking for a man they say shot five unhoused people in both cities, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot appeal his extradition to the United States, and Pete Davidson will be the next celebrity to board one of Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin flights.

 

Show Notes:

 

  • The New Yorker: “How Fossil-Fuel Companies Are Stonewalling Sarah Bloom Raskin’s Nomination to the Fed” – https://bit.ly/36m0YTf
  • DC Police Department: “This suspect is wanted in connection to 2 homicides and at least 3 additional shootings of homeless men in DC & NYC” – https://bit.ly/3CF9xEC

 

Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/

 

Transcript

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, March 15th. I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where the return of Tom Brady has made us give up on our dreams of being quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

Gideon Resnick: Going to have to get the Buccaneers logo un-tattooed across my face and I only had money for the tattoo.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Very tragic.

 

Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the MLB lockout is over. We’re going to learn how it happened, what is next, and how it already impacted cities that depend on baseball.

 

Hannah Keyser: When we talk about the economic impact we got to think about, like the communities that are impacted.

 

Gideon Resnick: Plus, authorities in New York and D.C. are looking for a man that they say shot five unhoused people in both cities.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, let’s bring you an update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of our record time at 9:30 Eastern. On Monday, delegations from the two countries again met for talks in hopes of reaching a cease fire. There was reason to be hopeful. On Sunday, one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisors said that Russia was quote, “starting to talk constructively” and anticipated that the two countries quote, “will reach some concrete results, literally in a few days.” Yesterday’s talks once again ended without reaching an agreement, though they are expected to resume today.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and meanwhile, Russia just accelerated their attacks on Ukraine. So what is the latest that we know there?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so Russia expanded its missiles attacks even further, hitting quiet residential neighborhoods in Kiev and other cities—not really the actions of a military looking to scale back, Gideon. In response to the escalating attacks, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that Ukraine was quote, “being decimated before the eyes of the world.” He accused Russia of attacking 24 health facilities, along with leaving hundreds of thousands of people without food or electricity.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it is truly impossible to grapple with. So on that note, can we talk a little bit more about how these increased attacks are impacting Ukrainian civilians?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Gideon, unsurprisingly, these attacks have put Ukrainians in an even more desperate situation. In the southern coastal city of Mariupol, approximately 400,000 civilians have been trapped for over a week without heat, food, or clean water. While a few hundred people were able to get out of that city via safe passageways yesterday, it was a small fraction of the evacuation necessary right now. A humanitarian convoy was sent to Mariupol carrying 100 tons of food, water, medicine, and other supplies, as well as busses to evacuate residents out of the area, but the convoy was unable to get to the city safely, instead getting stuck about 40 miles outside of the city limits. Russian forces are also reportedly killing civilians and looting stores and homes in occupied areas, according to the Wall Street Journal. One woman in Myrne, a tiny village in Ukraine, told the Journal that Russian soldiers shot two neighbors who were driving a car with a Ukrainian flag, saying the car quote, “is still there on the roadside and their bodies are still inside.”

 

Gideon Resnick: Horrifying.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. And Gideon, you may remember the picture of the pregnant woman from last week on a stretcher being carried out of the Mariupol maternity hospital after it was bombed by Russia. Tragically, both that woman and her baby have passed away, according to The Associated Press.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s really a lot to listen to and take in. Meanwhile, in Russia, I know that there have been really visible anti-war protests and that Putin and the government have cracked down on both journalists and protesters. Can you tell us more about what we know about that?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So the government continues to go after protesters and journalists, There have been multiple reports of protesters being arrested even for holding so much as a blink sign. But yesterday, a state television staff member jumped into the live broadcast during Russia’s most popular news show, holding a sign that read “Stop the war” and “They’re lying to you here.”

 

Gideon Resnick: Wow.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So that was extremely brave.

 

Gideon Resnick: Seriously. Yeah, the clip is pretty remarkable.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It is.

 

Gideon Resnick: So I also know that Zelensky is expected to address the US Congress soon. What can you tell us about that? And are there any other updates in general regarding the U.S. response to the invasion?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So tomorrow at 9:00 AM, Eastern President Zelensky will give an address to Congress members, which will be televised at the Capitol, and we’ll bring you an update on that afterwards. Meanwhile, members of the Biden administration met with Chinese officials for seven hours yesterday to reportedly warn against China giving Russia military or economic assistance, insinuating that if they did, there would be consequences. So yeah, that’s the update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot of stuff going on. Moving to an entirely different story—and I could not be more explicit about that—this is one that incorporates labor and sports. After 99 days, the Major League Baseball lockout ended last Thursday, with a full season that is set to begin on April 7th.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Gideon, because it started so long ago and our minds have been elsewhere, let’s remind people how this happened.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so in short, the owners implemented a lockout in December following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Negotiations have been basically going on to varying degrees ever since, culminating in this new five-year agreement that was reached to keep the season alive. There are a lot of stipulations here, some that impact the game and, of course, the economic side of things including, but not limited to, a draft lottery—that is sort of meant to dis-incentivize teams from tanking or intentionally losing—a rise in minimum major league salary, a $50 million bonus pool for certain young players, and quite a bit more. So for more on how we got here, what comes next, what any of this actually means, I spoke with Hannah Keyser yesterday. She is a baseball writer for Yahoo Sports and she’s reporting from Florida, where spring training has just begun. I started by asking her what brought the final negotiations to an end.

 

Hannah Keyser: I mean, mostly what it took was the calendar getting too close to when they’re supposed to play actual regular season baseball. That really is the case. I mean, all labor fights, regardless of industry, it’s all about leverage and people wanting to go back to work. Sports are unique in that there’s an off season when the players are not getting paid at all in the offseason. They get a stipend for spring training, but they’re big, giant player paychecks don’t kick in until the regular season starts. That’s actually why in the last couple of decades we’ve seen owners always move to lockout players before they have the opportunity to strike because it allows them to put pressure sort of at the start of the season rather than letting the season get underway.

 

Gideon Resnick: Got it. What are some of the bigger, more noticeable changes in this new CBA?

 

Hannah Keyser: I tend to think of changes as existing in two distinct buckets. There’s the economic changes that actually really are the meat of what they’re arguing about, that’s what makes it difficult to come to an agreement because, you know, a $10 billion-plus industry and there’s a lot of money at stake. And then there’s the like, on-field stuff that fans will notice immediately. So for instance, the designated hitter is going to be in the National League now, the universal DH. That’s one of those things that, like people on Twitter care a ton about, but like, trust me, that was not why we had a 99-day lockdown. They introduced a draft lottery for the very first time. So now like other sports, they have a lottery for the top six picks in the draft—that’s supposed to dis-incentivize tanking.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right, right, right.

 

Hannah Keyser: And then there’s like other various things. One of the major things that came out of this that fans will notice is a sort of very in-the-weeds change to how rule changes can be implemented, but the some of that is that rule changes can essentially be implemented now within the span of one offseason. Whereas before you used to have to give the union like a full year’s notice. And Major League Baseball is testing tons of rules at the minor league level, at the independent league level, and a pretty significant thing that came out of this new CBA was this. They came up with a committee that’s going to decide on rule changes, and it’s heavily dominated by league people. So ahead of the 2023 season, they’ll likely come up with a slate of new rule changes, and that’ll be something that fans will notice. On the economic side, the biggest change is that the players were able to get this bonus pool of money for players who are pre arbitration. So when you enter the league, you don’t have any free agency. You’re paid by whatever the major league minimum is and whatever your team decides to pay you. Eventually you reach arbitration where you’re allowed to negotiate, but only with the team that drafted you or has you at the major league level. But this is a bonus pool for players who are not even at that arbitration. So that’s the first three years of a player’s career pretty much. And a big problem in baseball is that, like younger players are better than ever, like all the stars are super young and those guys are getting paid like largely the major league minimum, famously. Pete Alonso made more money winning the home run derby than he did for his entire season that year because he was making the major league minimum.

 

Gideon Resnick: Wow.

 

Hannah Keyser: And so there’s this bonus pool now. So basically, the best young players will get paid more. That’s a big deal for baseball players.

 

Gideon Resnick: What has the vibe at spring training been like so far?

 

Hannah Keyser: Honestly, everyone’s in a great mood.

 

Gideon Resnick: OK.

 

Hannah Keyser: They really are even Max Scherzer, who is really emerged as like the face of the union, specific to these negotiations. He was there almost every day that they were in Florida. He was at the bargaining table. He was like really directly involved. And even he, I mean, he got the Mets camp and said, I don’t necessarily want to talk about it anymore, we’re on to baseball and the Mets are going to be good. And that might even be true. So they all seem pretty happy to move on. And I’m sure that they are happy to sort of have the most amount of distance between where they are right now and having to go through this process again, because it’s not an easy process.

 

Gideon Resnick: That’s really interesting. One of your recent articles said Manfred sort of understands labor negotiations well. Can you walk us through what you meant by that and the impact of that in this process?

 

Hannah Keyser: Yeah, this is like a slightly controversial standpoint because Rob Manfred is not a popular commissioner and he doesn’t always say the right things at press conferences, and that is definitely true. And he admitted himself that he needs to do a better job of outreach with the players—they particularly don’t like him. But I think the league got a lot of flak throughout this process for sort of the 43 days that passed after the lockout without them calling the union and making another proposal, and then this idea of sort of deadlines that were set and then not met. But that’s strategic, obviously. You know, I respect the players’ right to try to get as much as possible for themselves and the, you know, the owners want the same, and Rob Manfred works on behalf of the owners. He was bluffing when he set these deadlines. He said, you know, originally it was February 28th, and then they extended that to March 1st, and then there was a new deadline. But it wasn’t that he changed his mind, it was that he was bluffing all along. They obviously could play a full schedule if they got a deal done on, I believe it was March 10th that they eventually got it done. But he wanted them to feel the pressure earlier and that pressure works.

 

Gideon Resnick: What sort of financial impact would a more prolonged lockout have had on other players, other people in the industry? Had you thought much about that, like what the scope of that would have been?

 

Hannah Keyser: I mean, we’re, I’m in spring training right now, I’m in Florida, and this is the third year in a row that Florida and Arizona are not getting a normal spring training. So I feel like when we talk about the economic impact, we got to think about like the communities that are impacted. And even though we saved this regular 162-game season, there are communities in Florida and Arizona that have already been impacted by the shortened spring training, by the uncertain spring training, and they really rely on those tourism dollars and they they’ve been hit really hard with the COVID spring training getting suspended and then in 2021, everything was sort of limited. And so that’s a huge economic impact. And both the players and the League had sort of committed some money, I think, $1 million each, to stadium workers who are going to be affected. But that doesn’t go that far and again, those are, in a lot of cases, people who have been affected. I mean, the biggest picture you can take of these negotiations is that they’re coming on the heels of two pandemic seasons and that is its own economic pressure and less so probably on the billionaires and then the players but it is a factor in all of this, and it will become a significant factor on people who are not billionaires or professional athletes if their third season in a row has started to get affected from a financial perspective.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right. What precedent, if any, does this set for the relationship between owners and players in other sports?

 

Hannah Keyser: There was this period when sports leagues started to unionize and Major League Baseball was sort of like a standard bearer in this way. They were famously the most powerful union in the country, or at least sports, for a really long time, and they were making tons of headway and that required a lot of work stoppages. You know, we remember the ’94 strike, but even before that, there were lots of work stoppages and players were making huge gains. But recently, it’s been really hard for the players’ side to make any gains, essentially. And we saw why that’s true sort of in this lockout. You know, as soon as the CBA expires without a new one agreed to, owners move for a lockout immediately, that freezes everything in the off season. It’s really hard for the players to get back that leverage because they’ve already been locked out. You know, what we saw in ’94 is that the players went on strike in the middle of the season, canceled the World Series—that was a huge deal, and that was their leverage. And unless you’re willing to skip an entire year of the sport, you’re not going to get the opportunity to sort of take out this lucrative postseason thing for the owners. What we saw in this is that, you know, the players played it very aggressively on a small scale. So without sort of sacrificing any games, they played a very regressive. They were aggressive in their messaging, they were aggressive in their preparation, they were aggressive in calling Rob Manfred’s bluff—and they didn’t make all the gains they wanted, and they didn’t make big structural change to the economic structure, which I think some people see as sort of not succeeding in their goals. It represents sort of the way that players can go about trying to make incremental gains, at least, if not these big structural gains going forward.

 

Gideon Resnick: So that is my conversation with Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports. Definitely. Follow her for more updates on this. We’ll be keeping track of it as well, but that is the latest for now. We’re going to be back after some ads.

 

[ad break]

 

Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: New York City and Washington, D.C. police are searching for a man that they say targeted and shot at least five unhoused people in both cities, according to authorities. The suspect shot three unhoused men in Washington sometime between March 3rd and 9th, killing one and wounding two. But the gunman’s most recent known attack was on Saturday, when New York police say that he fatally shot an unhoused man and wounded another in Manhattan. All of the victims were sleeping outside when they were shot, and D.C. police tweeted a video of the suspect on Monday, calling on the public to help identify him. We’re going to link to that in our show notes. New York City Mayor Eric Adams and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a joint statement on Sunday night, urging the unhoused to take shelter in wake of the attacks. They said quote, “It is heartbreaking and tragic to know that in addition to all the dangers that unsheltered residents face, we now have a coldblooded killer on the loose.” Another unhoused man in New York was found dead on Sunday, and police are investigating whether or not he is the suspect’s sixth victim. Jeez. Horrendous.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. Really awful. The United Kingdom Supreme Court said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot appeal his extradition to the United States, meaning that he may soon have to stand trial for his alleged crimes here. He is charged with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for publishing top secret government documents pertaining to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2010, including Collateral Murder, a video that shows U.S. Army helicopters firing on a group of civilians and journalists in Baghdad. Last year, Assange’s lawyers argued in a lower court that their client couldn’t stand trial in America over concerns about his mental state and whether he would be treated well in U.S. prison. But neither a higher court nor the Supreme Court brought that argument, which dealt a huge blow to his effort to escape prosecution. Assange’s British lawyers say that their client still has other options to appeal the decision, and the U.S. Justice Department has yet to comment on the ruling. If Assange were to face trial in America, press freedom advocates say it would have serious implications for First Amendment rights.

 

Gideon Resnick: Sarah Bloom Raskin, Biden’s pick to be the next top banking regulator for the Federal Reserve, just got Manchin’d—everybody knows what that verb means at this point—as in Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joined Republicans yesterday to say that he could not support her nomination. That does effectively doom the confirmation. Raskin already faced a smoggy headwind from Republicans, in part because of her views on climate change—un huh. In 2020, for example, she said that fossil fuel companies shouldn’t have benefited from the Fed’s pandemic emergency lending programs for businesses—what a controversial statement—and a New Yorker story points out the fossil fuel industry has given generous campaign donations to all 12 Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, which has been holding up her nomination. West Virginia’s Manchin, as we know, is also down bad for coal. We’ll link to the New Yorker story in our show notes. So this all means that even if Raskin’s confirmation made it out of committee, she wouldn’t have enough votes in the full Senate without Manchin on board, unless the unlikely happens and a single Republican crosses the aisle. The fight over Raskin has held up four of Biden’s other picks for the Federal Reserve, including re-nominating Chair Jerome Powell for another term.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Now moving on to the unholy intersection between space, celebrity, and war: Space X founder Elon Musk used an engineering trick called stealing focus yesterday when he challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to a physical fight over Twitter—

 

Gideon Resnick: No.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: —noting that the quote, “stakes are Ukraine” and adding that he was quote, “absolutely serious.”

 

Gideon Resnick: Oh, please.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Sadly. Musk has been helping the people of Ukraine by sending Starlink terminals made by SpaceX and thereby providing some amount of internet access in the country at a time when Russian attacks are creating communications outages. That’s probably why he feels entitled to weigh in here, but this attempt at internet diplomacy seems to reflect a failure to recognize that a deadly war is different from a viral tweet prompt—a failure that was also seen in a response to Musk’s tweet by the Director General of Russian space agency Roscosmos, who said, quote, “you, little devil, are still young. Compete with me weakling, it would only be a waste of time.” What really just very healthy, stable behavior by everybody involved in the story. In, less combative space news, comedian Pete Davidson will be the next celebrity to right up into the sky aboard one of Jeff Bezos Blue Origin flights following in the Moonboot footsteps of William Shatner and Michael Strahan, he’s taking off on March 23rd and will fly for free as an honorary guest alongside five wealthy paying customers who have officially been added to the list of people who are jealous of Pete Davidson. Davidson and his crew will stay in the air for about 10 minutes, and based on recent history, will be greeted back on Earth by about one million new posts from Kanye.

 

Gideon Resnick: He’s not going to need to come back to Earth to be greeted by those because Kanye is going to be one of the customers that pays to be on this, right?

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Kanye will be on the flight. Kanye will not let Pete Davidson go to space before him.

 

Gideon Resnick: No, of course not.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You know?

 

Gideon Resnick: Maybe that was Jeff’s ultimate plan is to get both of these guys up there, maybe not have it come back down. Maybe they sort it out on a different space than Earth.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I like the idea of Kanye having a plan where he just emails Pete Davidson from like Jeff Bezos@KanyeWest.com.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right, right.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: “I’m going to space. Do you want to come?” It’s all part of a plan, you know? Good luck, Pete.

 

Gideon Resnick:  Pete’s like, I didn’t think Jeff used EarthLink.net. That’s weird.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Do you think anybody’s having a weirder year than Pete Davidson? Yes, definitely. Putin, probably. But like, not that many people. He’s had a weird year so far.

 

Gideon Resnick: Not that many people. I also like that your head went to Pete and Putin as the two having the weirdest years.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m sure there are more, but those are the two that come to mind.

 

Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, be jealous of Pete Davidson like many others on Earth and throughout space, and tell your friends to listen.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just application instructions for the position of quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

[together] And slow your posts Mr. Musk and Mr. Ye.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Slow your posts.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yet they’re going to have to use that Gogo inflight on Jeff Bezos Blue Origin, and that will inevitably slow them down. So I’m looking forward to that.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Oh man, I love the idea of being in space for ten minutes and connecting to the internet. That is so appropriate.

 

Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.