NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - Since the 1994 strike, baseball has seen 16 years of labour peace under commissioner Bud Selig, and in recent years the commissioner's office has been praised for bringing general managers into the process, creating a "feeling of inclusion at the sport's highest levels".
Of course, positive change always brings unforeseen consequences. Most notably, as a result of this increased openness, the Bat Boys Guild of Major League Baseball (BBGMLB) is clamouring for a seat in the negotiation room for the upcoming CBA (the current one expires on December 11), and is threatening a work stoppage if their terms are not met.
Unfortunately for MLB, the bat boys have quite a bit of leverage in this situation, being highly-skilled workers with no readily-available replacements. Not much is known about bat boy training, as the Guild keeps the process a closely-guarded secret, but it's believed that the apprenticeship takes upwards of 10 years to complete. Even if MLB were able to find qualified a qualified Bat Boy Professor (another aspect of the process carefully controlled by the BBGMLB), they simply wouldn't have enough time to train new bat boys, what with the impending CBA expiry.
Labour critic Cameron Robertson says MLB should have seen this coming. "I mean, ever since part of the Guild's Manifesto was leaked in the early 80s, the league has known that the bat boys hold all the cards. They should have been doing everything they could to mitigate against this kind of action. It's only through the Guild's benevolence that it hasn't happened yet."
An employee in the commissioner's office, Paul Kishimoto, responded to the criticism, saying MLB has attempted preventive counter-measures in the past. "In 1987 I enrolled in the Guild on an infiltration mission. The infiltration itself succeeded, but I couldn't hack it in their program. It's some freaky-ass cult shit in there. I passed the torture tests but when it got to drinking the blood of a newborn ferret I was out."
On Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the BBGMLB, speaking through a remotely controlled humanoid robot in the likeness of the twin girls from The Shining, revealed the Guild's demands. They have four conditions they want in the next CBA if MLB is to avoid a bat boy strike: 1) a 1% increase in pay per decade, 2) sandwich privileges in the clubhouse, 3) the ability to switch with the opposing team's bat boy halfway through each game "for a change of pace" and 4) new hats.
"Our hats have not been replaced in over seven years," droned the mechanical twins in creepy, monotonous, not-quite unison. "This is unacceptable. We want new hats. New hats. If our demands our not met there will be consequences. Consequences."
In the wake of the BBGMLB's bold foray into high-level league policy discussion, a number of other groups have come forward demanding a place in the CBA talks, including Mascots United, The Nacho-Cheese Mixers Society, and The Consortium For Dudes Who Can Yell "Beer" in a Really Loud and Obnoxious Way.
Cameron Robertson says MLB can't let these groups get a foot in the door, or more and more will keep popping up, and chaos will ensue. "Most of these groups don't have any power. You can always find new mascots, nacho-cheese mixers, and dudes who can yell "beer" in a really loud and obnoxious way." But, he warns, bat boys are different. "I think we'll see a deal cut with the BBGMLB, if nobody else. They'll get their sandwich privileges, and their raise. But the new hats... boy, that's an issue that could tear MLB to bits."