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Non Roster Taijuan Walker

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Post-Donaldson Trade - Status of Top Prospects

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Lineup Projections?

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The Twins got 6 players in the 2020 Baseball America Top 100 prospects rankings.    https://www.baseball...100-prospects/...
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Bremer’s FSN Sidekick 2020

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So with Seth confirming Morneau calling 60 games this year, how do the rest of the games break down? Morneau - 60 Bert - 20? Smalley...
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Minor League Contraction Plan Conjures Painful Memories

The law has had to prevent Major League Baseball from destroying itself to some degree on multiple occasions over the past 25 years. Fans of minor league teams under threat of elimination in Rob Manfred’s new proposal, such as the Elizabethton Twins, might have to hope justice prevails once again.
Image courtesy of © Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
If the MLB and the team owners get what they want, the landscape of minor league baseball is about to change dramatically. Commissioner Manfred, apparently backed by unanimous support from the owners, is actively working to eliminate 42 affiliated minor league teams.

John Sickels of The Athletic recently wrote a great piece titled “On MLB’s plan for minor league contraction: You gotta be crazy.” Sickels evoked memories from a time when it appeared the Minnesota Twins would be contracted. It’s easy to forget that appeared to be a foregone conclusion at one point.

In November of 2001, the MLB owners voted 28-2 in support of contracting two teams, widely assumed to be the Twins and Montreal Expos. Luckily, the Twins lease agreement on the Metrodome was in effect through the ‘02 season. A Minnesota judge granted an injunction to force the Twins to play their home schedule in the Metrodome that season.

Not only did the MLB appeal that decision, but so did the Twins.

In January ‘01, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. Once again, the MLB and the Twins appealed to the state’s Supreme Court. On Feb. 4, the Minnesota Supreme Court announced they were refusing to consider the appeal, essentially forcing the Twins to play the 2002 season in the Metrodome.

But how did the downturn in fan interest that led to the threat of contraction come about in the first place? While the 1994 strike hurt every team, it was particularly devastating for the Twins.

Backlash to the ’94 stoppage was compounded by the fact the Twins had the worst record in baseball in ‘95. Then Kirby Puckett lost vision in his right eye during spring training in ‘96. It was as if the Baseball Gods were doing everything in their power to send Minnesotans to the St. Paul Saints (who had both Jack Morris and Darryl Strawberry that season), their local town ball team or simply to pick up a new summer hobby.

The ‘94 strike lasted 232 days, but it only ended because the U.S. Court system issued an injunction that reinstated the previous collective bargaining agreement until a new one could be agreed upon. The owners’ only option at that point was to impose a lockout. If that lockout would have been ruled illegal, however, it would have resulted in owners paying huge amounts in damages and back pay to players. So the show went on.

Could there be hope the courts could protect minor league teams against this proposal? The New York Daily News quoted an anonymous “major league official” who expected there to be plenty of legal action.

“I don’t see any way we can do something like this. 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.”

More than 100 members of Congress have expressed opposition to the proposal, but MLB already responded with what The Boston Globe depicted as a “feisty” letter.

How do we keep finding professional baseball in the position in which it needs to be saved from the individuals running Major League Baseball?

Hopefully Elizabethton, a Twins affiliate since 1974, manages to survive this threat of contraction. Afterall, the city recently dedicated funding to renovate the ballpark’s facilities in an effort to appease the Twins and keep minor league baseball in Elizabethton.

Here’s hoping the law will be on Elizabethton’s side. We know Major League Baseball isn’t going to be.

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9 Comments

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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 24 2019 03:38 PM

Timely and important article Tom. Thank you.

    • brvama, Sconnie and Tom Froemming like this

I see this as stupidity.We want baseball to be more popular, but we are going to eliminate the arm of baseball that reaches out into the communities and states where MLB cannot exist. Is this considered smart?Lets just juice the ball some more and watch Home Run Derby, lets forget about developing dreams of reaching the majors, lets eliminate how many players????Yes this is eliminating players and fans.  

 

How many rounds are there in MLB draft?With this reduced number of leagues we can go to the NBA two rounds.So MLB wants more independent leagues.Do enough and we can get a Major Independent League and forget the millionaires league (sorry - billionaires).

 

This is another really frustrating development.If they had eliminated one league or even a dozen teams it would have slid by, but baseball likes to be stupid in a way that everyone can see.  

 

 

    • brvama, Hosken Bombo Disco and MMMordabito like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Nov 24 2019 04:14 PM
If it’s just the Eastern short-season teams that are eliminated, maybe that’s not so bad. I don’t know. Don’t know if the fans of those teams are just tourists or summer vacationers, or if they have true fan bases. Like I said, I don’t know. Another article stated how MLB wants to trim the draft to 20 rounds and send those late round kids to classrooms and training facilities instead of the short season leagues. I wouldn’t be outraged by that.

However, it would be nice to hear more or get some more reporting. I do think it would be rotten to eliminate any Iowa teams or other teams with established fan bases.
    • brvama likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 24 2019 05:39 PM

What about all the expenditures which the Elizabethtontown spent last year to update its stadium andfield and clubhouse facilities? Will MLB reimburse the town for that? Does this proposed elimination allow the Twins to just walk away from the contract with Elizabethton?  

    • brvama likes this

excellent article...and timely. This is one of most boneheaded ideas to come down the pike. With the cost of going to a MLB game getting out of reach for many average wage earners, and at a time when baseball is in a bit of decline in popularity....eliminating the opportunity for fans all across the nation to watch pro ball at reasonable prices on a nice summer evening is just about as selfish, selfless, and downright ignorant an idea as they can conjure up. It had better fail. As was stated, the minors.,,.all levels,..are the pipeline. Imposing more rules about how the stadiums must look, and all the other crap they are saying deserves to give MLB one huge black eye.

 

Also, as one who was a charter member of the Montreal Expos fanclub (I lived in MTL when the team formed and followed it religiously until its doom) the 1994 strike actuallyhurt the Expos more than the Twins. Mtl had the best record by a lot, when Butt Selig and his band of accomplices didn't have the guts to save the season. Losing their 1st legitimate shot at a WS...the team's finances went poof the following year and within a few seasons, the fans, disgusted with being told every year they were going to be moved, coupled with the selling off of all their talent..just said 'we quit'. Most baseball people I hang with are convinced baseball would still be in Montreal if not for 1994. There is a lot more to the story...too much to relate here...except to say, the info that tricked down to folks in the States was not an accurate picture of what was really going on in Quebec in those days (having lived there I can say this with assurance)

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Tom Froemming
Nov 24 2019 08:35 PM

 

If it’s just the Eastern short-season teams that are eliminated, maybe that’s not so bad. I don’t know. Don’t know if the fans of those teams are just tourists or summer vacationers, or if they have true fan bases. Like I said, I don’t know.

I can relate to this take. While I will always believe the more baseball the better, I'm not qualified to comment on all 42 of these teams potentially being eliminated. Maybe it does make sense for some of these teams to be eliminated, I don't know. I can say, however, Elizabethton is extremely proud of its team and its tradition with the Twins. It's a small city, population of only about 14,000 or so, but it's a well-established team and affiliation.

 

What about all the expenditures which the Elizabethtontown spent last year to update its stadium andfield and clubhouse facilities? Will MLB reimburse the town for that? Does this proposed elimination allow the Twins to just walk away from the contract with Elizabethton?  

That's really the grossest part of all. The city deferred a police station renovation in order to meet the Twins basically halfway and commit more than $1 million toward stadium upgrades. I believe that entire project only cost something like $2.5 million, chump change for an MLB team/owner.

 

Also, as one who was a charter member of the Montreal Expos fanclub (I lived in MTL when the team formed and followed it religiously until its doom) the 1994 strike actuallyhurt the Expos more than the Twins. 

Definitely. The strike hurt every team, I'd argue the Twins more than most others, but it essentially killed the Montreal Expos. Carl Pohlad was more than willing to allow MLB to contract the Twins, but Jeffery Loria basically had his hands around the throat of baseball in Montreal. Sorry you had to go through that. How awful.

    • Melissa likes this

As anyone knows, losing your favorite team hurts a lot. There is never 'another next year'. Loria was part of a seditious 3 headed monster...Loria, Selig and then Expos owner Claude Brochu. Brochu was given finances to help keep the team afloat and he pocketed them. Loria came to Montreal with the intention of moving them (a true snake) and Selig did his level best to discourage Montreal from ever remaining in MLB. He had his sights set on DC for a long time. When he allowed the 1994 season to go down the drain, it actually suited his purposes greatly. The team played in a horrible stadium (we all call it The Big Owe) and the hard surface nearly ruined many careers. The Canadian dollar was failing badly in the years leading to Expos demise. Soon Loria had no English radio or TV and the fans soured, not on baseball, but on the way things were run. Crowds got very small. Some forget how good they were in the early years and up to 1994. Attending games there was a complete riot. There hasn't been another team that played its final game that drew such a huge crowd as the Expos did, to say goodbye. The place was packed. It was very sad. What really stinks is Loria goes down to Florida and gets a WC for the Marlins...and wins a WS. There is no justice!

Yes, it was awful. I hope MOntreal gets a new stadium and a new team again. It could happen. It would be good for baseball.

MLB owners can afford to keep all minor league affiliations, they can afford to pay all players minimum wage, and they can afford to keep all 40-rounds of the draft. Yet, they choose to contract, they choose to take advantage of “seasonal worker” wages, and raise MLB ticket prices, concessions, and pro shop goods. I’m forever and always a Twins fan, but in the past 5 years my summers have been spent following minor league teams religiously. Minor League baseball is as Americana as it gets. The GM’s & staffs of MiLB teams are constantly wanting fans to have the best experience possible, all while enjoying the likes of big names early on in their careers. The interaction between players and fans in the minors is, for the most part, genuine.

This would sadden me deeply.
    • Melissa likes this

great post...totally agree. MLB, the owners , the agents....all of them have become uber-greedy and eventually it will all come home to roost.

    • jrod23 likes this