Answer Man

Here’s how MLB teams handle travel, lodging and meals for their players

In this BND file photo from March 12, 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals team bus is loaded up for the team’s trip to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for spring training.
In this BND file photo from March 12, 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals team bus is loaded up for the team’s trip to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for spring training. znizami@bnd.com

Q: During Major League Baseball spring training, I am sure the team probably pays all transportation costs, but what about lodging and meals? While you’re on the subject, what about away games during the regular season? Do the teams pay for lodging, meals and transportation or are players given a per-diem allowance?

Harvey Hoffmann, of Waterloo

A: If you ever have trouble sleeping, just grab the 2017 Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and players and start reading. It’s 373 pages of mind-numbing legalese designed to deal with every contingency a player might run into, right down to a final page that lists expected travel times between cities. (It’s 3:29 from St. Louis to San Fran in case you were wondering.)

Before that, you’ll find 28 articles, 56 attachments and three appendices outlining everything from salaries to cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) rounding. Article VII deals with Expenses and Expense Allowances. It’s eight pages long, so I can’t go into all the whereases and heretofores, but let me try to give you the basics you seek. (Note: Unless otherwise specified, all dollar amounts are from 2017. For current figures, you’ll have to add in a 1.02 percent COLA increase — the difference in the Consumer Price Index from October 2016 to October 2017. I told you they have everything spelled out.)

During spring training, each player is given a base weekly allowance of $320.50. But, wait, there’s more! If you live away from the club’s spring training headquarters, you are given a base supplement of $57 per week plus daily allowances of $40 for a room and $91 for meals and tips. (That would be a combined total of about $1,308 a week this year if you’re keeping track.) If the club does not furnish meals at its headquarters, players who live there also receive the $91 meal-tip allowance. It gets better: “No deduction shall be made for lunch or sandwiches served at the ballpark.” And: “No Player shall be required to sign meal checks or take his meals in lieu of receiving the daily meal and tip allowance.” So it appears you could snarf down a couple of monster cheeseburgers at camp and pocket the difference.

You also don’t have to sweat over getting there. If you have a Major League contract, your team must pay for your first-class airfare and meals to get to Florida or Arizona. On spring-training bus trips, each player is given two adjacent seats for comfort.

If you make the team, life gets even cushier. Whenever possible during the regular and post-season, teams must pay for first-class jet air and hotel accommodations for any required travel. If first class is not available, clubs shall provide the next highest premium seat. If, for whatever reason, players have to suffer the indignities of coach, the club “shall provide three seats for each two players and first-class meals.” If a player later finds an upgrade is available, a club must reimburse the player for the difference. Travel must be by plane (not bus) if the most direct highway route between cities is more than 200 miles. And, starting this year, all flights must be nonstop.

When it comes to accommodations, it’s pretty much putting on the ritz. Before Dec. 1, a club must provide its player representative and the Players Association a list of all hotels that the team plans to use the following year. Starting this year, for example, all hotels utilized by the club must have meals available (in-room or otherwise) until at least 1 a.m. In addition, “each Player traveling with his Club on the road shall have private rooms from spring training through the post-season.” And, you don’t have to worry about sleeping in. Teams are required to offer two trips from the hotel to the field — one early, one late.

Players certainly don’t have to fear going hungry. They get $102 a day for “any day on the road or traveling day that the Club does not provide a meal in the Clubhouse in accordance with the standards in Attachment 47.” Attachment 47 specifies nutritional requirements and that a chef be provided (among other things).

Even travel-day perks are detailed. If you have to report for a flight before noon or arrive home after 6 p.m., you’ll get the entire $102, but if you leave after noon or arrive home before 6, you’ll have to get by on $51.

And players aren’t left to fend for themselves if they’re cut or traded. Those headed to new teams are provided all traveling expenses, and clubs also must pay for the spouse to join him for one assignment during the season. If you have to engage in temporary military training, the club pays your way to and from the training. If you’re axed, the club pays your way home.

Need to negotiate your contract during the off-season? Players who are required to be physically present are eligible for round-trip, first-class airfare along with the in-season meal and tip allowance. On a rehab stint in the minors? No problem. “(Players) shall be treated as if they were Major League Players on the road for purposes of hotel accommodations and the daily and meal and tip allowance.”

Whether they make the post-season or not, all players are given a first-class jet ride home along with meals no matter where the club ends its season. And if they’re lucky, they can spend the winter looking forward to doing it all over again.

For the entire agreement, punch up www.mlbplayers.com/pdf9/5450407.pdf.

Today’s trivia

Who once required in his contract that his roommate (and battery mate) could not eat crackers in bed?

Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: Life was a real picnic in France on July 14, 2016, when thousands came to Laval to stage the world’s longest such event. Bringing ample quanitities of bread, cheese and wine, the revelers stretched out 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) to beat the old record for longest picnic of 1.7 kilometers set in South Africa. They also unrolled a red-and-white-checked tablecloth measuring 20,427 meters (roughly 12 miles). The Guinness World Records apparently also recognizes the longest picnic table at just shy of 695 feet at Muenster, Germany, on July 10, 2016, and the longest picnic line at 7,470 feet, 4 inches, in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, on July 15, 2012.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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