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MLBPA tone-deafness

As critical as I am of Bud Selig and the MLB braintrust, the MLBPA tends to be almost as bad when it comes to being tone-deaf in terms of p.r.

The latest example?  Well, at a time when the players are being demonized for being selfish steroid users who are getting paid millions while the country is in its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the MLBPA wants money the players have given to charity to be returned:

The MLB Players' Association has filed a grievance on behalf of players who have a provision in their contracts under which they agree to make a donation through his club to a charitable organization, MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza told ESPN's Karl Ravech.

This type of clause came into the spotlight earlier this month when Manny Ramirez re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In his contract, the slugger agreed to make a $1 million donation to the Dodgers Dream Foundation. After Ramirez's deal was signed, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt announced that "every future Dodger" will be required to donate a portion of his salary to the foundation.

Not so fast, said the MLBPA. The grievance was filed Friday and, unless settled, will be decided by arbitrator Shyam Das.

"Players are free to choose to make donations to club charities, but clubs can't require such donations by contract," union general counsel Michael Weiner said Saturday. "Provisions that require players to make contributions to clubs' charities are unenforceable under the basic agreement. It's not a subject that the Basic Agreement permits individual bargaining on."

Orza said he needs to gather more information, but that in the grievance, the players' association argues that the agreements are unenforceable and of no benefit to the player.

Rob Manfred, MLB's exectuive vice president for labor relations, told Ravech, "The charitable contributions were freely negotiated between the clubs and players. We are surprised that they would attack such freely negotiated clauses. And we are shocked by the union's assertion that charitable activities do not provide a benefit to the players."

In the grievance, the MLBPA is seeking repayment by the clubs to the players for the amount they agreed to donate to charity.

MLB has come up with at least 109 players with these provisions thus far, but there could be more, as the league reads through all of the contracts. At least 22 teams are affected, and several marquee players, including Ramirez, are involved.

Okay...Frank McCourt is clownshoes, I think we can all agree on that.  And the idea that he's going to require every player who ever plays for the Dodgers to donate a certain amount of money to his team's charitable organization is ham-handed and simplistic.

If the MLBPA wants to challenge that, okay.

But the idea that every contract that has a clause in it where a player is to make a donation to charity has to be examined, that clause removed, and the player reimbursed?

Asinine.  Pointless.  And incredibly bad timing for the MLBPA, it seems to me.