Sunday, November 17, 2019

Minor League Baseball faces "an existential crisis"

Finally, the Gammonites of Gotham have stumbled upon MLB's ghastly plans to disappear 42 minor league franchises, severing ties to small town America because - well, there's no other way to say it - under the current system, the billionaires at the top are simply not making enough money.

Today, the New York Times reports on the proposal, which seems to have sprung from the holiday semen spigot of Ebenezer Scrooge and Old Man Potter. Beware: It's a scary read. 

In the past, we've spat our bile over the impact on the Yankees, who would lose one of their few remaining advantages in this world, now that their owner self-imposes austerity. Currently, the Yankees can have up to 285 players under contract on eight domestic teams. Under the new proposal, they would be limited to 150, on five. 

Let's do some cocktail napkin numbers. If, say, the average minor league contract is for $50,000 - then multiply it by 135, and Hal Steinbrenner would shave $6.7 million off his tab. (Obviously, these finances are far more complicated, but generally, I've found that when billionaires impose changes, they always come out ahead.)

Why are the owners pushing this? Out of love for humanity. Says the Gray Lady:

For the last 30 years, negotiations for these contracts have been
mostly congenial. But in this year’s talks, a clash of cultures has emerged between M.L.B.’s analytics-driven league office and a sprawling minor league system dependent upon a major league lifeline.
M.L.B. contends that its proposed reorganization would make the development of up-and-coming players more efficient, while also improving their work conditions. The plan includes increasing the number of days off, reducing travel time, improving transportation and hotel accommodations, and ensuring that ballparks meet M.L.B. proposals for enhanced standards.
Who's against more days off, shorter bus trips, nicer hotels and better infields? Well, I don't buy it. I see a plan to make more money and leave small cities - the last bastion of baseball Americana - with empty ballparks that were built by taxpayer money. 

Someday, I believe there shall be an accounting. It will be generational. It will be political. It will be societal. It will shake our culture like a frack-quake. Someday, the pampered lords of baseball will wake up to find they had been bequeathed the greatest cash cow in American history, and they strangled it with their greed.

(AMENDMENT FROM DOUG K: Billy Madden has a take on it in the Daily News.)


13bit said...

Yep, and the accounting for this, the greatest income inequity in history, won’t be limited to baseball.

13bit said...

And I'm not just referring to things like the headline that just popped up about FedEx paying NO taxes, avoiding 1.6 billion dollars in taxes, and investing none of that money back in the company. I'm not mainly talking about that.

I'm talking about OTHER stuff...

Got it? OTHER stuff?

I hope A-Rod is blowing out some diarrhea at this moment.

TheWinWarblist said...

I have nothing to add, other than I love minor league BB. The Hudson Valley Renegades (TB affiliate, short season A ball) are a great experience. The seats, food and beer are cheap and disgustingly wonderful. And the Yankee youngsters from Staten Island come to visit. MiLB clubs are an important part of their home towns. There used to be many more franchises and leagues than there are now. Cutting 50 franchises is a direct attack on those towns and the young players. It will dilute the talent reaching MLB and cost those towns thousands of seasonal jobs.

I wish ill on all of the billionaires destroying our society.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bill Madden writes about the same issue in the News

Doug K.

Alphonso said...

Someday, soon.

When we are all resting in baseball fans' version of "Flanders Field."

What they are trying to do, in addition to the obvious profit motive, is make the minor league experience unbearable, rather than fun. For example, if you go to spring training in Tampa, you can barely get tickets and only if you overpay, and plan really early.

They use the stadium for sports marketing majors to try out the amplified noise distractions to which one is always subject. Awful music, sounds which crescendo, and the racing things on the big screen.

The tolerable seats ( in the shade for day games ) are already Yankee stadium priced and exclusive to the wealthy and disinterested.

I think baseball already has one step in the grave.

Taking the game from small towns kills lot of local jobs , not just those of marginal ballplayers.
The guys who mow the grass, the local vendors and inns-keepers, gas stations and diners all will suffer. Not to mention the hooker population and the bars.

Often, the only reason any tourists go to those towns is for baseball.

It is why Haiti is dirt poor whilst The Dominican Republic thrives. Haiti has no baseball and the Dominican does. For those who may not know , those two countries share an island.

Will Hal and his family do a tour of these abandoned towns? Hand out bobble-head dolls, perhap?

cabish47 said...

The only hope I have is that more independent leagues will blossom. An advantage for the local fans would be a more stable roster as players would be "owned" by the team. In short, this would hearken back to how things were before farm systems dominated. I want to believe the game itself is pure and can thrive without the billionaires' control.
I know. I'm having a Pollyanna moment.

HoraceClarke66 said...

The Madden piece WAS very good, and very frightening.

Maybe the stupidest part of the whole, awful plan? The idiotic "Houston plan" to waste the first summer of every player's professional career in a camp, where they will "indoctrinated in analytics."

Play the damned game, for crying out loud, and stop pretending this is rocket science.

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