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Here We Go Again

Another day, another horrifying look at minor league baseball meals

June 02, 2021

Last spring, former Mets minor-league Ty Kelly went viral when he shared a grisly look at the Mets’ MiLB spring training lunches. Well, if “lunch” is what you want to call one folded over piece of ham on white bread with a slice of American cheese. Warning, do not consume on an empty stomach.

The image sparked a viral outrage and also raised very real questions about the viability of minor-league baseball in America. Clearly, most people agreed, this wasn’t a meal fit for athletes within a professional baseball infrastructure. But just as clearly major league teams being expected to turn four-tiers of geographically disparate minor-league ball into a profitable, equitable business was a failure in the very premise of said infrastructure. Thus came minor-league retraction.

In late February, the MLB eliminated short season baseball, cut minor league teams down from 120 to 160, and began to assume control over the operations of many of their affiliate minor league franchises. It was the first step in a broader minor-league reform, but unfortunately for the players, it doesn’t seem to have improved the food.

Here are two postgame meals Oakland As players were served last month.

This makes the Fyre Festival spread look positively gourmet. Oakland As owner Dave Kaval quickly apologized on Twitter, but the gastrointestinal damage was already done.

Many in the comments say the players shouldn’t complain and that they can buy their own food if they don’t like it. The problem is that’s not entirely true. Postgame meals within the minor-leagues used to be handled by the clubhouse manager. The “clubbie” would pool money from the players and pick up something cheap for the whole team after taking a cut. In an effort to eliminate those clubhouse dues, the MLB eliminated that system this year, instead handing over meal responsibilities to the respective clubs. Instead of players choosing what they wanted to get and paying for it out of pocket, they were handed what you see above.

And lest you think the players can opt out or pack food from home, the rules are pretty strict, as Kelly told it at least.

And that’s all before the pure and simple mantra of capitalism enters the equation: Nothing in life is free. If your employer is handing you a “free” lunch, that “free” lunch was paid for with money, and that money had to come from somewhere. Perhaps that bonus this year isn’t coming. Perhaps your dental deductible is higher. You get the picture. Minor leaguer or average joe, one way or another you’re paying for your meals, but from the looks of things out in Oakland, we’d rather go hungry.