Miller: MLB players union ready for a fight

From Scott Miller at Bleacher Report on April 3, 2018:

Oatmeal nearly gone, bacon in hand and another meeting stuffed with pointed questions behind him, the Apple Watch wrapping Tony Clark’s wrist beeped with a message: “Time to stand.”

The late-morning breakfast conversation here in a booth of the swanky hotel restaurant paused as the Major League Players Association executive director stopped to consider the message. The winter has been difficult, and the spring arguably has been worse. The seal on the latest Basic Agreement between the players and owners barely has been brokenthe sides are just 15 months into the four-year contractand yet free agents this past winter stepped into a deep freeze and, even now, a couple dozen remain unsigned. The agitation level is high.

The message on his watch was a simple reminder to the 6’8″ Clark at various checkpoints throughout his workday. His back, which he first injured playing basketball at the University of Arizona in the early 1990s and then managed throughout a 15-year MLB career spanning from 1995-2009, has been flaring up this spring along with everything else. Though he wears the pain without complaint, you can see it in the stiff way he walks.

Because Clark is a grinder who tends to keep his head down, blinders on and works through what is in front of him until it is finished, he can use every reminder he can get to pause, stand and stretch his tight and aching back.

But here’s the thing: As he led meetings with each of the game’s 30 clubs throughout his annual tour of Florida and Arizona camps this spring, what he found was that the messages on his watch were nearly extraneous. Because in conversations with angry and frustrated players, as the deep freeze continued to ice free agents across an MLB landscape featuring an alarming number of clubs veering toward “tanking,” “resetting” or “rebooting”pick a termhe was buoyed by the sheer number of players delivering the same message as the one that kept beeping on his wrist.

Time to stand.

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Originally published: April 3, 2018. Last Updated: April 3, 2018.