Frank and Jamie McCourt should be applauded for their philanthropic efforts with the Dodgers Dream Foundation. The power couple that run the Dodgers (Frank is owner, and just elevated his wife Jamie to CEO) will enrich the Los Angeles area by refurbishing or developing youth ballparks in conjunction with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and local city officials.
There is also ThinkCure, the official charity and a key beneficiary of the Dodgers Dream Foundation which is working with City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles to try and find a cure for cancer.
And, there are several educational programs that all benefit from the Dodgers Dream Foundation.
All are noble efforts by the McCourts and the Dodgers to help enrich the lives of those living the Los Angeles area, and beyond.
When the Dodgers inked Manny Ramirez to a two year, $45 million deal recently, part of the agreement had Ramirez making a $1 million donation to the Dream Foundation. I had to nod my head in recognition of Ramirez being charitable to such a worthy effort.
But, now comes word that the Dodgers plan to institute what is now being called “Ramirez provision” into all contracts, as opposed to players making the donations voluntarily.
“Every future Dodger will be asked to fill in a blank line,” Frank McCourt said in remarks to Town Hall Los Angeles today. “They’re making a lot of money, these players. We won’t tell them how much to contribute, that wouldn’t be right.”
Well, let’s see what happens when a player enters $1.00 on the line.
This isn’t to say that players won’t willingly go along with advancing the Dodgers’ charitable efforts, but let’s say for the sake of argument that I were to somehow have the baseball gods land on my doorstep and make me an MLB player of interest to the Dodgers (hey, one can dream). I would most likely decline any substantial donation to the McCourts in favor of autism research (for those that may not know, I have a child with autism, and the Business of Sports Network works to promote autism awareness). Who is to say that investing money I earn in autism research, or some other charitable foundation is any less noble than the one being foisted by the McCourts on future Dodger players?
If you don’t think that players aren’t doing charitable work, I have a mountain of press releases from the MLBPA to say otherwise. There are also countless press releases from players doing charitable work on their own (as a matter of fact, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers just hosted Ante Up for Autism).
The MLBPA may look like the bad guys on this, but there’s a case to be made that forcing players into a donation is against the CBA.
But, before it all comes to that, here’s a way that the Dodgers can have their cake and eat it too. If players are interested in pursuing charity work outside of the pressures being placed on them by the McCourts; if a contract is for a certain amount, add in whatever they think will help the Dream Foundation as a special bonus and deposit it in the player’s name. In other words, donate back into your own cause. This might sound somewhat crass, but then saying, “They’re making a lot of money, these players,” infers that by golly, they better step up and donate to our personal charity. If that doesn’t work, maybe the McCourts would like to invest in a player charity. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Maybe it is that tried and true saying that often surfaces during the holidays that should be at the forefront of the McCourts’ minds: A gift given willingly is the best gift of all. I hope that millions pour into the Dream Foundation, but let’s hope and pray it’s done because players want to, not because they are forced to.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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