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Manfred destroying minor league baseball
3 weeks ago  ::  Nov 17, 2019 - 11:49AM #1
Jon
Posts: 711
3 weeks ago  ::  Nov 17, 2019 - 3:49PM #2
FW57Clipper51
Posts: 15,507



Minor League Changes Article from Daily News



As if they aren’t squarely involved in enough transgressions against baseball, we should not be at all surprised to know the Houston Astros — the Jeff Luhnow Houston Astros — were the ringleaders of the MLB plan to essentially destroy grass roots baseball and contract 42 of the 160 minor league teams.





In recent weeks, details of the plan have been slowly leaking out, the MLB spin being it’s designed to (1) upgrade all the minor league facilities and (2) improve “wellness” for the minor leaguers in terms of travel and living conditions. In truth, as always, it’s designed to save money, lots of money, and the proprietors of these minor league teams, many of whom have their life savings invested in them, be damned.




Here is the plan which is slated to go into effect beginning in 2021:




1. Forty-two of the 160 minor league teams (26%) guaranteed under the present, expiring Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors will be eliminated, most of them from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn, Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer.





2. The baseball draft will be moved from June to August, and reduced to 20 rounds, with the stipulation that the drafted players will sign contracts for the following season. In the interim, the players would then go into what has been described as the “Houston Plan” in which, instead of playing games, they will report to the major league team complexes and undergo analytics indoctrination — i.e. the analyzation of the hitters’ bat speeds, launch angles etc., and the pitchers’ spin rates, arm strengths and grips.





3. With the elimination of the four Rookie Leagues, there will be a limit of 150 players each organization can have in its minor league system among teams at Triple-A, Double-A, High A, Low A and their minor league “complex” teams. (Presently, there is no limit. The Yankees, with nine minor league teams, have well over 200.) It was the contention of the Astros and most of the smaller market clubs, that there is too much money being wasted on players who will never come close to reaching the majors. They may have a point, but between the reduction of the draft and the limit on the number of players in an organization, who knows how many Mike Piazzas, Luke Voits or John Gants, will ever be signed.






MLB commish Rob Manfred wants to leave behind 25% of the current minor league teams.


MLB commish Rob Manfred wants to leave behind 25% of the current minor league teams. (John Minchillo/AP)





Meanwhile, the repercussions from this contraction plan are going to be enormous. Not just for the minor league communities, most of which are the grass roots of baseball, but for MLB itself which, conceivably will be hit with an avalanche of lawsuits from communities that have built new ballparks on taxpayers’ money, all of which would figure to threaten their long-cherished anti-trust exemption. It’s been estimated that $300 million in equity will be lost by the minor league owners whose teams are being eliminated. (Point of clarification: When a person purchases a minor league team, the only “insurance policy” on their investment is the PBA agreement that guarantees 160 teams. That agreement is expiring after this year and MLB is now intent on reducing that guarantee to 118 teams.)






“If we are forced to defend ourselves and fight for mere survival, we will,” said Minor League president Pat O’Conner. “We understand (MLB’s) concerns about facilities that are deficient and not up to standards of what 21st century baseball requires and we have said we’re more than willing to work with them on that, as we are in respect to other (wellness) issue. We can work on re-aligning some of our minor leagues so they are more geographically convenient and we can do things with our schedules, as in longer — five-game series — to cut out extra trips.”






Unfortunately, under the direction of Commissioner Rob Manfred, the MLB negotiators are telling their minor league counterparts, “that’s all well and good, but the contraction plan is going through, no matter what.” In other words, it’s no longer negotiable.






If so, those owners losing their teams will therefore get nothing for their investment now. However, to that, has MLB got a deal for them! If they wish, they can put their team in what MLB has dubbed a “Dream League” — which would be an independent league operated by MLB, with minimal cost to MLB. In addition to stadium maintenance and taxes which they’re already paying, the cost of players, managers, coaches, trainers and equipment people’s salaries and workers comp insurance would now all fall on the owners — between $350,000-$450,000 per year. When it was pointed out by the minor league negotiators there was no way these minor league owners, after losing all the equity in their teams, could then afford to own a “Dream League” team, the MLB response was: “Well they didn’t pay all that much for their teams in the first place so it’s only paper money.” Tell that to David Glass, who bought the Kansas City Royals in 2000 for $96 million and recently sold them for $1 billion. Or as one minor league negotiator told me: “I guess that means it’s OK they should be punished for being good business operators.”





Putting the minor league owners aside, what is especially cruel — and some suggest self-defeating insofar as growing and cultivating the game is concerned — are the cities and communities themselves being stripped of their teams. In the Class AA Southern League, they are eliminating Chattanooga, which has had a minor league franchise since the 1800s. Bristol, Tenn., in the hit-list Appalachian League, has had a minor league franchise almost as long. (You don’t think the Tennessee lawmakers won’t be rising up when the reality of these longstanding minor league teams being eliminated sets in?)





Three New York-Penn League teams are being saved in the plan by being upgraded to full season leagues, including Hudson Valley being moved to a new-formed Class-A league and Brooklyn, the Mets affiliate, which will be moved to the Double-A Eastern League, replacing Binghamton. That club is being put out of business despite the fact that the owner, John Hughes, has raised a considerable amount of private equity to upgrade NYSEG Stadium. And, by the way, Binghamton will be the host venue for next year’s Eastern League All-Star Game! Another NY-Penn League team being contracted is in Williamsport, Pa. Remember, MLB is saying a primary reason for contraction is because of so many ballparks not being up to major league standards — and yet it was OK for the Cubs and Pirates to play a regular season game in Williamsport last summer. Next summer, on its way out the door, Williamsport is scheduled to host another regular season game between the Red Sox and Orioles.






Williamsport was good enough to host the Cubs last season, but the Pennsylvania town is slated to lose its minor league team.


Williamsport was good enough to host the Cubs last season, but the Pennsylvania town is slated to lose its minor league team. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)





According to minor league calculations, over 2,000 years of combined minor league baseball history is about to be extinguished with these contractions. And as we said, so many of these teams are grass roots baseball towns where most of baseball’s biggest stars passed through (and developed a forever fan base) on their way to the majors. An official from one of the teams in the Pioneer League, where most of the teams are in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, put it to me this way: “This is the only way people in these towns can see baseball. They can’t afford to drive 1,000 miles to Seattle. And you’re talking about young fans. You take their teams away and baseball has lost them forever.” (So much for MLB’s “Play Ball” initiative in which they bring former major leaguers into these minor league parks to hold clinics etc., to “grow the game”.)





Last month, in response to Major League Baseball attendance being down for the fourth straight year, Manfred said: “We’re going to draw 68 million people at the big league level and another 41 million at the minor league level. I’ll take 110 million people seeing the game live. That’s really an awesome number.” Except that he’s about to “contract” about at least four million of that attendance. Guess he feels they don’t really need it.




I’m told that when Manfred presented this plan to the owners a few months ago, the vote was unanimous 30-0 to move forward. It was the Luhnow, the godfather of analytics, and the Astros who first conceived of it, and they were quickly joined by the Brewers and Orioles, whose GMs — David Stearns and Mike Elias — both worked under Luhnow with the Astros. The rest of the teams apparently just said ‘OK’ without any discussion of the ramifications of such as a drastic attack on the minor leagues and all these communities across the country.




Since then, a number of major league officials have privately expressed their concerns about the plan and how it could possibly be implemented in the face of so many conflicts and potential lawsuits. But whether or not they will openly challenge Manfred and his deputy point man, Dan Halem, at the owners meetings in Arlington, Texas, next week remains to be seen. A touch of irony: For over a year now, MLB has been asking Minor League teams to lobby their state governors and legislatures to enact legislation allotting “integrity fees” — a percentage of the baseball gambling revenue in their states — that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for MLB. Perhaps they should not count on being too well received now by the governors and legislators in so many of these states with this contraction threat looming.




“I don’t see any way we can do something like this,” a major league official told me. “My God, we’ll be sued all over the place from these cities that have built or refurbished ballparks with taxpayer money, and this will really put our anti-trust exemption in jeopardy. It’s crazy.”




But a minor league clubowner who has been sitting across the table from Halem in these so-far fruitless negotiations on the new PBA is not so sure.





“I cannot believe the arrogance of these people,” he said. “They don’t care about lawsuits or anything. They think they’re bullet proof. They’ve told us, ‘We’re doing this and there’s no discussion about it, and if you don’t like it, we’ll form our own minor leagues.’”






Last month, Congresswoman Lori Trahen, (D-Mass.) spoke on the House floor imploring her colleagues for support for saving the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox’s affiliate in the New York-Penn League. “I rise on behalf today for millions of Americans to call ‘foul’ on Major League Baseball,” she said. “This plan is a betrayal of the fans and players as well as stadium vendors and employees around the nation. And it’s an affront to the people of Lowell who swung for the fences in building LeLacheur Park, one of the nation’s best minor league parks. MLB’s plan is way off base and will hurt so many communities across the country that rely on a minor league team’s presence.”






That cry figures to get much louder — and more far-reaching — in the coming months. But will it still go on deaf ears from Manfred and MLB?












http://i50.tinypic.com/vfvbja.jpg


2 weeks ago  ::  Nov 18, 2019 - 4:20PM #3
NW
Posts: 1,182

The NYP league team in my area has been here for 25 years and has had 25 years of sellouts.  It has been extremely profitable, they put money back into their stadium, and the stadium is used to host several high school and recreational games as well.  The team provides an affordable night out with lots of family fun and brings kids into baseball.  Eliminating something that is doing nothing badly is a poor business move.

2 weeks ago  ::  Nov 18, 2019 - 4:56PM #4
louisiana_lightning
Posts: 17,191
I have very little trust or respect in Manfred.
2 weeks ago  ::  Nov 18, 2019 - 9:28PM #5
Paterson
Posts: 6,536

   In addition to their value in developing young players, minor league franchises are where young fans are developed. Minor league baseball is kid friendly, reasonably priced and the players are almost always accessible. The game we love is fast becoming the reserve of old fossils...like me. Too many kids will never learn to love the game because they will never see it played live..as participants or as fans. It is just sad.   

2 weeks ago  ::  Nov 22, 2019 - 9:59PM #6
Jon
Posts: 711

MLB is so f'ing clueless. Montana, Idaho, N and S Dakota, etc all have baseball fans and there's no teams within 500-1000 miles of some of these places.

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