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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Why MLB’s minor leagues as you know them will end Sept. 30

“I don’t think there’s anything that could be said on behalf of Minor League Baseball that could make this change not occur,” said Mahlon Luttrell, president and general manager of the Bristol Pirates in Virginia. “And we’ve come to realize that.”

Talks continued Wednesday on a new Professional Baseball Agreement, but under MLB’s proposal, first reported by Baseball America:

There will be only 120 affiliated teams, four per major league team. At least 42 teams will lose their affiliations, while some independent teams could become affiliates. Minor league owners don’t know which teams are on the cut list.

There will no longer be rookie and short-season Class A levels. Lower-level players will train in their major league club’s spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida, but scores of paying jobs in the game will be lost.

MLB will take over merchandising, broadcast and sponsorship rights, splitting revenues 50-50 with the minor league clubs.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 03, 2020 at 09:33 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues

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   1. NattyBoh Posted: September 03, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5974319)
I imagine that a threat to move to the empty Colorado Springs stadium will be used as leverage to hammer concessions from recalcitrant cities. I remember watching the Maine Mariners play at Binghamton. The game featured Charles Johnson and Edgar Alfonzo among others.
   2. depletion Posted: September 04, 2020 at 11:53 AM (#5974510)
Sad day when they kill off the lower leagues that have been around for generations. I hope some group can step in with independent teams for at least some of these towns. It’s pretty easy to view this as big city millionaires screw over small town America, chapter 397.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 04, 2020 at 12:35 PM (#5974513)

MLB will take over merchandising, broadcast and sponsorship rights, splitting revenues 50-50 with the minor league clubs.


And the players themselves will get PBJ sandwiches.
   4. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 04, 2020 at 12:43 PM (#5974514)
The Maine Mariners were an ice hockey team. The Maine team with Charles Johnson on it was the Portland Sea Dogs. (and is still the Portland Sea Dogs)
There was a team in the 80s called the "Maine Guides" and before that I think it was decades without an affiliated team.

Sad to see all this going forward. Most of the small towns will now be without a team or maybe be in a college wood-bat league (is there a need for more of them?), but independent leagues will now be more viable with more markets to put teams in. The Atlantic League needs to go into Frederick, MD. Frontier League needs to go into West Virginia.

At least 42 teams will lose their affiliations, while some independent teams could become affiliates.

Which independent teams would those be? Besides the Texas team that's currently in the Atlantic League.
   5. Red Voodooin Posted: September 04, 2020 at 01:46 PM (#5974522)
Which independent teams would those be? Besides the Texas team that's currently in the Atlantic League.


Reportedly the Saint Paul Saints out of the American Association, and the Sugar Land Skeeters from the Atlantic League, and another ATL League team, the Somerset (New Jersey) Patriots is also seen as a possibility.
   6. Belfry Bob Posted: September 04, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5974529)
Wow. I've enjoyed several annual trips to see the Aberdeen IronBirds (who feature as beautiful a minor-league park as you can imagine) for decades. Hopefully Cal will help make something happen there, though a league that requires more than bus trips seems improbable, at best. I can't imagine the destination of Aberdeen being a full-season ballclub in the top 4 for the Orioles.

I'm old school without the 'get off my lawn', and this makes me truly sad. The Richmond Braves were my first in-person professional team for 17 seasons, and I've always had a soft spot for the minors. Richmond, Columbus, Norfolk, Bluefield, Bowie, Hagerstown, Toledo, Pawtucket, Old Orchard Beach, Dayton, Durham, Danville, Lynchburg, Delmarva, Aberdeen, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville...and dozens of games in Frederick, which is 15 miles from my home.

I guess fans felt the same way 50 years ago when the barnstorming teams were dying out and towns stopped sponsoring their own semi-pro teams to play the next town over.

I already knew my hometown of Danville, VA was on the original cut list (I drove down there from Baltimore to see their first ever game) so I'd gotten over that...but now to hear that Aberdeen's entire league is gone brings all those feelings back to the surface.
   7. DL from MN Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:05 PM (#5974532)
maybe be in a college wood-bat league (is there a need for more of them?)


I hope they go through with making the Appy league into the "last chance" league for college seniors. It would probably just be for the month of August, especially if college baseball goes through with the plan to put the CWS in July.
   8. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:08 PM (#5974533)
I hope some group can step in with independent teams for at least some of these towns.
If you take a map and plot the markets they're abandoning, there are definitely some clusters of cities and ballparks available for independent leagues.

I imagine the Frontier League would be trying to put something together in Youngstown, Erie, Binghamton, Williamsport, maybe Hagerstown or Frederick, maybe Charleston, WV. There are a bunch of geographically appropriate cities with stadiums and established fan bases. There's a geographically compact indie league to be made from Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, Elizabethton, Greeneville, Chattanooga, Bluefield, and Princeton.

BTW, what the heck is with MLB eliminating three different ballclubs from cities named Burlington? Does Manfred own a stake in some kind of up-and-coming coat factory or something?
   9. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:08 PM (#5974534)
The last plan that I saw said that the Golden Boy has nothing to worry about, Aberdeen is likely to survive and Frederick, Delmarva and Hagerstown are not. The two teams on the outskirts of Baltimore survive, the ones a little farther away have to hope for an independent league.

Presumably if their league is gone there will be an Aberdeen team replacing the Delmarva or Frederick team in a higher league.

I imagine the Frontier League would be trying to put something together in Youngstown, Erie, Binghamton, Williamsport, maybe Hagerstown or Frederick, maybe Charleston, WV.

Frederick needs to be in the Atlantic League with York and Lancaster. Hagerstown should also be in that league, but Frederick has a nice 30-year-old stadium that draws 4,000 fans and Hagerstown has an 90-year-old stadium that draws 1,000 fans, so it may be more bad news for Hagerstown.
   10. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:11 PM (#5974535)
#6 - Aberdeen isn't on the kill list I've seen. They're fine and Delmarva is fine, but Hagerstown and Frederick are in trouble according to the list Baseball America published.

Is there an updated list somewhere?
   11. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:17 PM (#5974536)
There's a geographically compact indie league to be made from Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, Elizabethton, Greeneville, Chattanooga, Bluefield, and Princeton.

Amid constant turnover and rebranding elsewhere, the Appalachian League has has the same teams forever. I think it will either continue to exist as a wood-bat league in post #7, or disappear entirely because none of the Appy League towns can really support a team except maybe Johnson City.

Chattanooga will definitely have a team. That's a real city.
   12. bads85 Posted: September 04, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5974542)
There is no definite, current, plan of teams that are to be contracted. The one that was released in 2019 was never supposed to be released to public, and it was completed with obvious haste and bully threats. Some of the team on that list have already been assured they aren't on it (Lowell, Frederick, Quad Cities for example). Frederick was placed on the list over a dispute on who was paying for a new weight room, and that has been resolved.

What is known for sure is the Appy League is gone with the exception of one or two franchises. The NY Penn League will face cuts, and a couple of FSL teams might be gone. The Pioneer League will not remain in ints current condition.
   13. bads85 Posted: September 04, 2020 at 03:09 PM (#5974548)
I imagine the Frontier League would be trying to put something together in Youngstown, Erie, Binghamton, Williamsport, maybe Hagerstown or Frederick, maybe Charleston, WV.


As noted before, the O's and Frederick have kissed and made up. The O's have no desire to leave Frederick as it is a wonderful stadium right in their backyard. Erie probably isn't going anywhere either because of recent, expensive stadium upgrades funded by the state, and MLB signed a contract for those upgrades stating there would be an affiliate there (Norwich, Conn is in the same position, as are some other teams on that initial list).

   14. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 04, 2020 at 03:44 PM (#5974550)
This is good to hear, bads85. Can I ask how you know?

If the NY-Penn League faces cuts I am guessing it'll have to change its name, because its 2 worst attendances are two of its remaining 3 teams in "NY". (Batavia and Auburn - the team in Troy is doing well)

"Mid-Atlantic League" anyone?
   15. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 04, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5974552)
I'm hoping they can figure out a way to keep Youngstown, OH in organized baseball somewhere. I went to a game there last season and thought it was a sneaky-nice stadium. It's not the most architecturally pleasing ballpark and it's weirdly tucked behind a shopping mall, but the views were good, the crowd was solid, and I enjoyed it very much. Until they went to extra innings and started putting runners on second base. That was garbage.

(I promise the tinyurl is a Google Maps link and not a portrait of Madeleine Albright.)
   16. bads85 Posted: September 04, 2020 at 08:55 PM (#5974602)
This is good to hear, bads85. Can I ask how you know?


It is kind of a long story, but the short answer is that I write a great deal about MiLB and have made contacts over the years. That being said, nothing is set in stone with the way COVID has changed things, but Ken Young, the owner of the Keys and four other teams, indicated things were going to be worked out with Baltimore last last spring. I am almost certain nothing has changed, but COVID has a way of derailing things.

There is talk of a Mid Atlantic League. There are various realignments being discussed. One of the more interesting ones is flipping the FSL to Low A, playing in the FSL parks in April, May, and early, June, then moving to the surviving teams of NY Penn and Appy Leagues.
   17. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: September 05, 2020 at 12:39 AM (#5974642)
It's funny, I don't always think Bud Selig was good at his job, but I knew even though he was "on the owner's side", I was sure that he loved baseball. I don't get that feeling about Rob Manfred.

Rob Manfred reminds me of Keith Wandell, the former CEO of Harley-Davidson, who was brought in amidst the 2008/2008 recession. He was a golfer and not a motorcycle rider when hired, but had a lot of financial experience as the CEO of the automotive supplier Johnson Controls. He made a lot of short-term decisions that increased the stock price and led to great short-term profitability, but ultimately laid the groundwork for the serious decline the Motor Company is facing now. It's 2020 and the Motor Company is still trying to recover from the decisions that were made from 2009 to 2015.

What Baseball needs right now is someone who loves baseball, who wants to make it grow, change maybe, but grow. Baseball does not need someone like Keith Wandell. Rob Manfred is Keith Wandell, and this move is a very Keith Wandell-like move to me.

https://www.roadracingworld.com/news/must-read-cycle-world-article-details-how-a-golfer-who-didnt-ride-motorcycles-became-ceo-of-harley-davidson-and-murdered-buell-motorcycle-company/
   18. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: September 05, 2020 at 01:28 AM (#5974648)
MLB will take over merchandising...

Which I guess will put the kibosh on Little League teams using MiLB hats and team names. The kids in our local LL loved picking out MiLB hats and names. And of course they always went for the silliest team names and most bonkers logos.
   19. bads85 Posted: September 05, 2020 at 01:30 AM (#5974649)
The problem in Chattanooga is the stadium's training facilities are abysmal, and there just is no room for expansion because the facility is shoehorned next to the river. The home and visitor clubhouses are right next to a cliff.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2020 at 01:35 AM (#5974651)
What Baseball needs right now is someone who loves baseball, who wants to make it grow, change maybe, but grow. Baseball does not need someone like Keith Wandell. Rob Manfred is Keith Wandell, and this move is a very Keith Wandell-like move to me.


Rob Manfred has pretty much turned me off of MLB, likely for good. I've said before, but I think in subsequent years I'm just going to get my baseball fix from college and independent leagues, maybe even high school. The gutting of the organized minors was kind of my last straw.
   21. Belfry Bob Posted: September 05, 2020 at 03:00 AM (#5974655)
I'd be happy that Aberdeen misses the ax, except...I don't see how THEY survive in a full season league...I mean, there aren't any people there. Short season, yes, but it's a hike from Baltimore, and I-95 N traffic, though perhaps better post-pandemic, is traditionally awful. Maybe they can sustain their level of attendance - I guess we'll see. As much as I love the atmosphere and ballpark, I still won't go more than a few times a year, it's 70 miles from me, so to miss the worst traffic I have to leave at 3:15 and eat dinner up there somewhere. Glad to hear Frederick is sticking around...that means the Orioles would be Aberdeen-Frederick-Bowie-Norfolk, and that makes sense if Aberdeen can make the transition to a full season club.
   22. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 05, 2020 at 07:35 PM (#5974699)
And the players themselves will get PBJ sandwiches.

"The ungrateful whelps want peanut butter and jelly in their sandwiches...?!"
   23. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 05, 2020 at 07:41 PM (#5974702)
Re 15: There seems to be somebody's house at the end of Dawson Street within walking distance of the ballpark. Wonder if he gets to many games, or if the lights/noise bother him at night?

(I promise the tinyurl is [...] not a portrait of Madeleine Albright.)

That would be wrong...
   24. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 05, 2020 at 07:49 PM (#5974704)
Rob Manfred has pretty much turned me off of MLB, likely for good. I've said before, but I think in subsequent years I'm just going to get my baseball fix from college and independent leagues, maybe even high school. The gutting of the organized minors was kind of my last straw.

The last last straw for me is the league and teams getting in bed with their own "official gaming partners." I don't want to watch baseball fade away into being just another stage for gamblers to place their bets, and I won't watch wall-to-wall ads encouraging me to do so. I haven't watched any live games this season or really any MLB Network programming for that matter. I've got enough Strat cards and seasons in all four sports to get my sports fix without ever having to watch a live game again.

And, on an unrelated note, bravo to RMc's efforts in [23].

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