Have you seen the new Planet of the Apes movie in which James Franco trains a super-chimp to live as a sort of hybrid of a puppy and a human child? The super-ape learns very quickly, becoming more and more human. But oh no! He is taken away from James Franco and placed in the care of evil public ape-facility owner Brian Cox and his acne-ridden employee Draco Malfoy.
The super-ape, Caesar, can only take so much abuse from Cox and especially Malfoy. Eventually, sick of it all, he strikes back at Malfoy and in a dramatic moment, speaks for the first time. It looks like this:
Anyway, when I read the news about Logan Morrison’s grievance against the Marlins this morning, I thought about Caesar and Malfoy. Today, Morrison stood up for all-ape kind and said NOOOOOOOO.
In no way, of course, am I trying to make the case that Morrison or his fellow MLBers resemble apes — only that owners treat them as subhuman commodities.(Fantasy owners do this too. And all fans. Even me, sometimes. But if P&P is anything, I hope it’s a force for reminding people that baseball players are more than just a walking statistical output machines, even when those players are Eugenio Velez.)
Here’s what Morrison actually said:
“I want to stand for what’s right. The players’ association agreed I should apply for a grievance. It’s not an easy decision or a decision I took lightly. It’s about protecting rights. Guys who have been here for a long time want to make sure their rights won’t be stepped on.”
Obviously that’s more tempered than the Morrison we’re used to. But it’s not far from the truth about him. Never in all of his tweeting and talking and all of that has Morrison struck me as un-serious about his team, about playing baseball well.
Over two years ago (wow) I wrote a post called “Nate McClouth and the Modern Indentured Servitude.” I wrote this:
Trades, and the whole idea of trades, are really kind of insane.
Where else on earth can supposedly competitive entities, allegedly separate businesses, legally traffic in humans like they can in sports? What other environment would encourage something like that? Critics bang fantasy baseball for overlooking the human aspect of the sport, for reducing players to their statistics, but they forget something. Fantasy GMs are trading imaginary rights. Real GMs trade human beings.
This also applies to the way some organizations play fast and loose with moving players between levels. That Logan Morrison was needlessly called down is totally obvious from a statistical perspective. But what about the fact that the Marlins in all likelihood lied about the reason for the demotion?
The grievance is a worthwhile endeavor at the very least. Not just for Morrison (who is the right mix of wronged, savvy, and on courageous) but for all players who are misled by management, and for fans who would rather have an intellectually honest front office guiding their favorite team.
That intellectual honesty question is another post for another day. But I’ll say this: it seems obvious that management, players, and fans can benefit from relationships that are more honest and, even accounting for the inherent conflicts, somewhat less hostile.