Is this the part where Manny Ramirez hoofs it to New York, kidnaps Bud Selig in his pajamas, and delivers him on Terry Francona's doorstep complete with ribbon and bow?
As we type this, the Red Sox are doing little more than hanging out at City of Palms Park, where they were to play their final spring training contest in Florida this afternoon against the Blue Jays. But they've made it clear, unless Major League Baseball pays, they won't play.
It hasn't been a banner public relations month for Major League Baseball. One day after the Yankees, of all teams, were universally celebrated for their visit to Virginia Tech, comes word that the league has apparently backed out of its agreement to pay the Red Sox and A's coaching staffs an appearance stipend of $40,000 each for next week's ridiculous trek to Japan.
Upon learning of the situation, Red Sox players - who will each receive $40,000 for making the trip - unanimously (unanimously!) voted to boycott the trip unless their coaches were paid. Good for them.
I mean, even the Griswolds got that fruit of the month thing. Maybe Bud is trying to work that into any further negotations. Papayas are nice.
Odds are that this will work out. There's no way that MLB is going to risk its international showcase next week. Either the league will cave and unhappily fork over the cash, or the players will assume it upon themselves to divvy up some of their own stipends in order to reward the staff. If it's the latter, you can be sure that it will be an ongoing reminder in the clubhouse all season long since it would essentially defeat the point they're trying to make with their boycott threat.
Prior to jetting off to Japan last night, the architect of this whole trip, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told the Providence Journal's Sean McAdam that the coaches would not be receiving any additional pay, and that it was a matter to take up with MLB and the player's association. "They are getting paid for 162 games, not 164," he said.
Somewhere over the Pacific right about now, Lucchino has to be, let's say, not so pleased. I can imagine whoever is in his traveling party is likely looking for the nearest chute to escape the cabin.
Edit: Quite obviously Lucchino was not on his way to Japan seeing as he joined Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the booth during today's game in Fort Myers.
Lucchino's comment about the coaches not getting paid for 164 games though is valid. However, if it's true that a stipend for the coaching staffs was negotiated by the players, only to watch MLB back out of the agreement, it's only the latest financially deplorable decision on baseball's part. Earlier this month we learned that MLB threatened to pull its $100,000 grant from the Cape Cod League unless it adhered to strict licensing regulations.
Again, we remind you that Commissioner Bud makes $14 million a year.
Of course not everybody is so supportive of the Red Sox' stance in this matter. Take the Journal News' Peter Abraham for instance:
Remember when Boston GM Theo Epstein said how his team was together on going to Japan and couldn't complain about it? Yeah, not so much.
Boston's players are all up in arms over their coaches not getting paid extra and may boycott today's game in Fort Myers. Thanks for coming to down to Florida to see us play!
So let's review. The Yankees are charitable men of honor who help their fellow man in a time of need. The Sox are a greedy disgrace to the game.
If the A's do intend to make the trip to Tokyo (and odds are that if the Sox are boycotting, the A's will follow suit), but the Sox stay home, might that result in a two straight forfeits to open the season? Probably, but it won't come to that.
The Red Sox hold all the cards here. MLB has no choice but to bend, or watch its season-opening celebration go kaput.