Sox players compromise
During the playing of the game, Kevin Youkilis addressed the media in the Sox interview room concerning the heated negotiations with MLB that ended in today's game being played and the trip to Japan remaining a go. Reading between the lines, it clearly was not as big a victory for the players and for their solidarity with the coaches as it first appeared.
It seemed at first that MLB had backed down completely and was caving to the Sox players demands. The main issue was that the players were guaranteed a minimum $40,000 for the Asian vacation, with that total going up if the tour earned more money. The coaches and support staff were guaranteed nothing. The Sox wanted their coaches and staff to earn the same. Here's what Youkilis had to say.
"We've come to a good negotiation. We want to thank a lot of our players. They did a lot of good, not just for our coaches, but for all of baseball. It's not one party to blame. It was bad communication. It's just communications. It needs to be addressed in the future."
In the morning, the Sox players had threatened to shut down today's Jays game (Jays beat the Sox 4-3) and not board the plane to Japan if the coaches did not receive equal compensation for the eight day incredible journey to Japan, that continues in L.A., Oakland and Toronto. When they emerged into the dugout at 12:51 p.m. after setting a 12:30 deadline and it was announced the game would be played, it looked like they had won.
In listening closely to Youkilis, it seems like, in actual fact, there was a tremendous amount of concession on the part of the Sox players and that without some heavy financial guarantees from the Red Sox ownership, MLB was, indeed, not close to satisfying the request for coaches' compensation and the trip could have been off.
When pressed on whether the manager and coaches would receive the same amount as the players, Youkilis said that it was not the same pool and he wasn't sure. When asked whether the A's coaches were going to receive the same amount, he said that was up to the A's. He also indicated that it was a tough negotiation and that many players were even reluctant to walk down the tunnel and actually play today's game. That sounds like some Sox guys didn't think they had won on the issue of compensation.
Youkilis insinuated that not only did the Players Association not give the Sox team its full support but it warned them of the repercussions of not going, advice that smacked of a threatening overtone. Youkilis, who is a very sincere young man, also was not sure what the total for coaches would end up being and if it would approach the $40,000 they were seeking. "It's way better than what they were going to receive," is all he would say.
So if the A's coaches aren't guaranteed anything, then you can be sure it's because the major contributors to the settlement are the Red Sox and not MLB. It's not all bad. It's likely that this will lead to the A's coaches getting paid and that Larry Lucchino and John Henry have just bought time to convince MLB to do the right thing. But the fact is the Sox players did not win this one outright. It was a compromise. Which was probably best for baseball, as long as they don't drop the ball.
But in the long run, it was good for baseball and shows how far behind the NFL major-league baseball is in terms of avoiding controversy when it comes to overseas growing of the game.