MLB: Little League Opens 70th Season with National Tour Launch; MLBPA Irked by Ramirez Provision

Little League

Little League opened its 70th season with a National Opening Day event, which helped launch a “Baseball Design Across America” tour to promote the national pastime and support the youth sports organization. Also, the Dodgers’ “Ramirez Provision” caused a stir with the MLBPA, who have filed a grievance to stop team requirements for players to support charities.

Little League: MLB.com’s Ben Platt was at the National Opening Day for the 70th Little League season on March 24, and noted that former big leaguers Dave Winfield and Fred Lynn “served as celebrity coaches in the Opening Day game, giving the Little Leaguers a chance to interact with two of baseball’s all-time greats.”

Meanwhile, Subway Restaurants also launched the first annual “Baseball Design Across America” tour, commencing with the Opening Day event. The tour “will feature baseballs designed and autographed by celebrities that will be auctioned off to the public, with the total proceeds benefiting the Little League.” The tour “will make stops in seven United States cities, and “will be accompanied by baseball legends who will be serving as official program spokespeople” (Ben Platt, MLB.com, 3/24).

The Ramirez Provision: MLB.com’s Dan Cichalski reported that after the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that, “in all future contracts, the club would require players to donate a portion of their salary” to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Major League clubs. The issue arose after Manny Ramirez agreed to donate $1 million to the charity as part of his $45 million, two-year deal.

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt: “Every future Dodger will be asked to fill in a blank line. They’re making a lot of money, these players. We won’t tell them how much to contribute, that wouldn’t be right.”

But MLBPA General Counsel Michael Weiner said, “Players are free to choose to make donations to club charities, but clubs can’t require such donations by contract. Provisions that require players to make contributions to clubs’ charities are unenforceable under the Basic Agreement. It’s not a subject that the Basic Agreement permits individual bargaining on” (Dan Cichalski, MLB.com, 3/23).

MLB Executive VP of Labor Relations Rob Manfred: “These clauses are individually negotiated between clubs and players. The idea that they would file a grievance to contest them is surprising” (Jack Curry, N.Y. Times, 3/23).

Examiner.com’s Paula Duffy wrote, “Apparently more than 100 players from 22 clubs agreed to have specific sums or percentages of their yearly income funneled to charities of various sorts. It is required in their contracts” (Paula Duffy, Examiner.com, 3/22).