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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Tony Clark Appears to Be Winning Fight Over Baseball’s Union

  • Players on MLBPA’s executive subcommittee have expressed regret over the situation’s handling.
  • The attempt to insert Harry Marino as Clark’s No. 2 appears to be fading.
Evan Petzold-USA TODAY NETWORK (Syndication: Detroit Free Press)

The baseball season doesn’t start for a few more days, but Tony Clark is going into it with a lead. 

Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, appears to have survived a public power struggle. Some players had pushed for Clark’s top negotiator, Bruce Meyer, to step down and be replaced by Harry Marino, a former minor league player turned lawyer who helped unionize the minor leagues. Meyer has drawn the ire of some players for alleged favoritism to clients of super agent Scott Boras. 

“We still have issues to discuss, but one thing clear among the MLB executive subcommittee members is that this is no longer a Harry Marino discussion, in any respect,” Clark said in a statement issued Sunday, with the authorization of the entire MLB executive subcommittee. 

Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., a member of the eight-player subcommittee and a Boras client, disputed the claims of bias in a conversation with The Athletic. Boras himself had called the effort to replace Meyer “a coup.” 

“At the end of the day, this is our union,” McCullers said. “And no player or, to my knowledge, committee member on the board of the PA—like Bruce, Tony, any of the employees at PA—are arms or branches of agents.”

Tigers pitcher Jack Flaherty, a fellow subcommittee member who had initially pushed for Meyer’s ouster, told The Athletic he regretted the way he handled the situation. 

“There was one phone call that went on that I put Tony in a bad position in, where Harry tried to push his way through,” Flaherty told The Athletic. “He tried to pressure Tony, and Tony stood strong, said this is not going to happen. Tony has done nothing but stand strong in all of this. That was something I would love to take back. I never wanted Harry to be in Bruce’s position.”

Flaherty said Marino brought some interesting ideas to him and other players, which sparked conversations among one another and started to give him some momentum within the union. Flaherty didn’t go into specifics as to what Marino’s ideas were. 

Marino released his own statement Sunday, which included a charge of players being threatened for speaking out against union leadership. His statement was light on specifics. 

“It has been shocking and disappointing to hear that several major-league and minor-league players are being threatened, bullied, and retaliated against for having come forward with their honest opinions,” Marino wrote. “It is important to remember that federal law protects every union member’s right ‘to express any views, arguments, or opinions’ and ‘to meet and assemble freely with other members.’ Players should never apologize for exercising these rights.”

Flaherty said a frustration among players has been the handling of free agency since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed and how a lot of them were on the market so late into the offseason calendar. 

While Marino’s fate with the PA seems to be sealed, Meyer’s is still up in the air. Meyer emailed the players in the past week defending his track record with the union in an attempt to stay in his role. Even Flaherty wasn’t sure where this would go next after he was asked whether Meyer will be replaced. 

“I have absolutely no idea,” he said. “We’re having internal discussions.” 

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