Congratulations! It's your first day working for Major League Baseball. You probably grew up a huge baseball fan, and while this isn't as good as actually playing, you're about to embark on a fun and rewarding career with MLB. But first, there's something you need to read and sign.
Oh, and take this cup. We're going to need you to pee in it. MLB has a strict and sweeping drug testing policy that covers even its lowliest office drones. If Ryan Braun can't shoot himself full of stanozolol, neither can Jim from Accounts Payable.
Deadspin has obtained Major League Baseball's handbook of policies and procedures, the 161-page manual given to every employee before beginning work at MLB. It covers everything from building security to conflicts of interest, vacation-day rollovers to improper use of the office fax machine, for employees at MLB's central offices (the main office in New York on Park Avenue, MLB.com in Manhattan's Chelsea Market, and MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J.).
The full MLB employee handbook can be read at bottom. We've pulled out some highlights.
Flipping through the table of contents, you think hey, maybe this won't be terrible. Maybe they really do love their baseball here. The handbook is divided into nine "innings." Then you realize the innings are just sections. The sixth "inning" is all about how to fill out your expense reports. This is the worst baseball game ever.
Let's hit the basics. You're going to have to look presentable. No jeans or T-shirts—this is a workplace.
For a comparison, a former NHL employee tells us that the dress code at hockey's offices are a little more relaxed—jeans are acceptable, but collared shirts are still a must.
These are the paid holidays MLB you'll be given—standard, with the exception of Columbus Day. (It's the playoffs!)
Now you'll have to give a urine sample, or you won't be allowed to work here.
This one's especially fascinating. Employees, from the lowliest PA on MLB Tonight to the commissioner himself, are covered under a sweeping drug policy. It's not the same as the one governing the players—there is no mandatory random testing—but it's not far off. The list of prohibited substances is identical and comprehensive. Unlike most workplaces that institute drug testing, MLB doesn't merely test for the "Big Four" (opiates, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP). MLB wants to know if its web staff is taking Adderall to stay up for the West Coast games, or if the administrative assistants are on hormone replacement therapy.
Employees must submit to a urine test upon taking the job; they can be asked to submit to unannounced urine tests at any time during their employment. They're also subject to immediate testing if there's reason to believe they're using prohibited substances.
Refusal to sign acknowledgement and acceptance of the drug policy, or refusal to submit to tests, is a fireable offense.
By comparison, there is no drug testing of NHL employees.
We like to complain from time to time about the various ways our hopeless war on PEDs tends to encroach on civilian life. Here's a good example. Workplace testing is a morass of drug-warrior illogic to begin with, and MLB's employee policy takes things a step further into comedy. What's it to MLB if Jim from Accounts Payable wants to get swole on his own time?
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's dive in to the rest of the handbook. The first "inning" is a history of baseball. It does make for interesting reading—the version of the sport's origins officially endorsed by MLB. It eschews the Abner Doubleday/Cooperstown mythology for an admission that no one is exactly sure whether the game was an American invention, or evolved from the English games of cricket and rounders. (Bud Selig may want to read up.)
Beginning with 1920, MLB's history is told through the accomplishments of the commissioners. Each mini-biography is whitewashed. There is no mention of Peter Ueberroth's role in the owner collusion scandals of the 1980s, but the handbook does note that
Ueberroth's four-year tenure as Commissioner was marked by record attendance in every year, greater awareness of crowd control and alcohol management within ball parks, a strong anti drug campaign, and significant growth in baseball's revenues.
That sort of thing. Likewise, the players strike that canceled the 1994 World Series is not mentioned under Bud Selig's tenure. Instead, it receives a paragraph in the separate "Baseball in the 1990's" section.
The handbook's second "inning" is basically a long list of things employees should not do. Like harass each other:
Or date each other without telling HR. Or take gifts in excess of $500 from business partners, or any sort of "bribe, kick-back, gratuity or other payment." There is also a subsection specifically devoted to dealing with appearances of nepotism. Oh, and they're big on confidentiality:
The handbook warns that if employees receive free tickets in connection with their jobs, you should never sell them "in excess of the face value of the ticket." Face value is apparently fine.
Here's the entirety of the section on gambling:
Blogging! Not only does MLB describe exactly what a blog is, but it's very restrictive on what employees can put on their personal blogs. You can't even link to any MLB sites:
The third "inning" covers benefits. Like overtime, which is very specifically defined. You get time-and-a-half after working 40 hours, but you cannot add paid days off to reach the 40-hour mark. You can't bill for things like "time sleeping in a hotel room at night." You can't work overtime without receiving approval from a supervisor.
The fourth "inning" covers time off. At MLB, you're not supposed to roll vacation days over from one year to the next. But should you receive a special dispensation to carry over your vacation days, you have to take them within the first three months of the year.
Maternity and paternity leave is pretty good! Employees get up to 12 weeks off for the birth of a child. Bereavement leave, on the other hand, is limited to three days.
The fifth "inning" covers building security, including how to get a news ID card, and what to do in case of fire, bomb threats, or the receipt of threatening packages.
The sixth "inning" covers expenses and finances, and touches on MLB's travel policy. The vast majority of business flights must be booked in coach. The only exceptions are flights more than four hours long, and for those flights, only employees on the level of Senior Vice President or higher are eligible to fly business class.
At least employees stuck at the office after 8 p.m. are eligible to have their taxi fare reimbursed.
Oh, hey, MLB, what the shit is this?
Our former NHL employee tells us that their workers receive a Crumbs cupcake on their birthday, "all of it on Gary."
"Innings" seven through nine are boring. Don't read them. Here's the full employee handbook. Sign it and return it, and we'll get you set up in your cubicle.
Image by Jim Cooke.