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NYT Lists MiLB Teams Targeted For Extinction

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#1 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 11:59 AM

Emily Waldon Tweeted out a link to a New York Times article that lists the 42 minor league teams that have been targeted for extinction by MLB in their proposal for reorganizing minor league baseball. The plan is to reduce the number of levels in the minor leagues by eliminating teams in locations that have, for one reason or another, become unpopular spots for MLB affiliates. Generally, this would mean stadiums where facilities for players/coaches, such as clubhouse, workout areas, etc., are substandard.

 

You can click here to get to the NYT article which has the list.

 

Of particular note (to me anyway), the list included:

 

Elizabethton (the Twins' Appy League affiliate)

 

Midwest League teams in Burlington, Clinton and Quad Cities.

 

Cedar Rapids is NOT on the list BUT these are the 3 closest MWL sites to CR. It would leave CR as the only MWL team in Iowa and would eliminate the three "commuter series" rivals, increasing CR's travel costs significantly.

 

Also of interest is the inclusion of Chattanooga on the list. They are 1 of 4 Class AA teams on the list. Chattanooga's stadium is dated and, from what I've heard, their player facilities are not the best, at least as compared to expected AA standards.

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#2 Rosterman

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:09 PM

I wonder if facilities like the St. Paul Saints would move into the realm of consideration of a minor league site.

 

Most interested to see what happens to the current indy league scene, with major league abseball wanting to take some conrol of these low-pay tryout teams.

 

Also interesting to see what does become of the real intro short-season teams that basically spring from training facilities, which usually house a third of a teams prospects who play games amongst themselves.

 

I keep wondering if there is gold in being a minor league team host city, or is it just civic pride and smoke-and-mirrors in a strange competitive world where you are fielding a team at the whim of the majors and while you may start showing some sucess, that can be quickly dashed as players move around a team's system.

 

And what will be the importance of collegiate teams. With the Twins emphasis on adding collegiate coaches to their rosters, and hearing that many collegiate talents make higher wages than salaried coaches at the major league level, will abseball become a more major endeavor for college recruitment?

 

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#3 ashbury

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:11 PM

It is possible, not certain, that cities like these will come out better in an independent-league scenario, with more heated rivalries coming from genuine attempts to build rosters to win rather than develop.

 

I've had plenty of fine spectator experiences at ballparks that fail to meet the standards MiLB requires, even if those requirements meet MLB's needs. The vast majority of ballplayers will never reach the majors - embrace that reality.

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#4 mikelink45

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:30 PM

The question I have is whether MLB will consider reducing its draft rounds like NBA and NFL have.Then having less minor league players and let the independent leagues be the tryout for those not drafted.

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#5 tvagle

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:46 PM

Apparently MLB has an issue with Burlington's

 

Iowa

North Carolina

Vermont

 

all on the proposed chopping block

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#6 AceWrigley

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:48 PM

 

The question I have is whether MLB will consider reducing its draft rounds like NBA and NFL have.Then having less minor league players and let the independent leagues be the tryout for those not drafted.

This could be a boon for the Indy Leagues, which I think is a good thing for Baseball.

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#7 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 12:50 PM

The assumption is that many of these communities would transition to providing homes for college wood bat leagues and I think that's what's likely to happen.

 

I think all that will do, though, will change the list of communities losing baseball when teams CURRENTLY hosting wood bat league teams lose those teams to the Clintons and Burlingtons on the list.

 

I question whether or not there's enough legit college baseball talent (not to mention coaches) to simply add 40 wood bat teams. Could add some, certainly, but in the end, some of the current towns in leagues like the Northwoods League would seem likely to lose their teams.

 

I don't see Independent Leagues seeing dramatic effects. The teams on the extinction list are there largely because their owners can't afford new/upgraded stadiums. Teams operating on such a tight budget are not going to be suddenly able to afford to add a player/coach payroll that they haven't had to absorb as an affiliated team. 

 

Quad Cities might be a unique exception. They draw well and their stadium, while older, has seen significant remodeling. I was surprised to see them on the list. As Andy Pantini of the Kernels responded to me via Twitter, however, it could be the flooding issue that QC regularly seems to have in the spring that got them targeted for elimination. Maybe as an independent league team with a later Opening Day, flooding would not be an issue there and if they continue to draw well, maybe they could cover a roster payroll. 

 

I do think the Saints would inevitably become an affiliate of the Twins at some level. Just not sure what level.

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#8 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 01:09 PM

 

The question I have is whether MLB will consider reducing its draft rounds like NBA and NFL have.Then having less minor league players and let the independent leagues be the tryout for those not drafted.

The plan, as originally reported by JJ Cooper at Baseball America, indicated the draft would be reduced from 40 rounds to 20-25 rounds.

 

There would also be a "Dream League" proposed. But, while MLB acknowledged some level of subsidization would be necessary, players' and coaches' salaries would have to be paid by the Dream League team. Again, for most of the teams being cut, that's an expense they aren't likely to be able to afford.

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#9 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 02:20 PM

 

It is possible, not certain, that cities like these will come out better in an independent-league scenario, with more heated rivalries coming from genuine attempts to build rosters to win rather than develop.

 

I've had plenty of fine spectator experiences at ballparks that fail to meet the standards MiLB requires, even if those requirements meet MLB's needs. The vast majority of ballplayers will never reach the majors - embrace that reality.

Not buying all of this.

 

First, as I mentioned in another post, very few teams cut will be able to afford payroll costs associated with indy ball.

 

More importantly, though, the value of MiLB to MLB is not all about direct costs/revenues. It's an investment in assuring the continuation of generations of MLB fans in "flyover country" that MLB owners, executives and, frankly, fans who live in MLB cities don't give a damn about.

 

NFL and NBA teams can rely primarily (if not solely) on local fan bases to buy enough of their product (tickets, viewership, clothing, etc.) to cover the costs of doing business. NFL has to fill a stadium 8 times. They don't need flyover fans to do that.

 

But MLB teams need to sell (tickets and viewership) 81 home dates. Good luck doing that if you don't do enough to keep young fans engaged beyond a 30 mile radius of your ballpark. 

 

Yes, MLB can save some direct expenses with this plan and we all know the vast majority of players affected weren't likely to even sniff a MLB clubhouse (though I'd argue a number of those players DO turn that experience into coaching/scouting/FO jobs that also benefit MLB teams). 

 

But when you're a league with challenges retaining fan interest, as it is, do you really think it makes sense to give a significant portion of the population more reasons to not give a damn about your product?

 

Fans introduce their kids/grandkids to baseball by taking them to watch games. For much of the country, that means taking them to minor league games. Could that be done by taking them to HS or small college games? Yeah... but let's be honest. That isn't going to happen.

 

It's a risk MLB is clearly willing to take and maybe it's the right business decision. Only time will tell, of course. But don't be shocked if, a few years down the road, MLB is wondering why there are significantly fewer MLB fans in the flyover country they've abandoned.

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#10 Tom Froemming

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 02:43 PM

From the article: "According to minor league calculations, over 2,000 years of combined minor league baseball history is about to be extinguished with these contractions."

 

Damn. Also ...

 

"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."

 

I did not take the earlier reports regarding this topic all that seriously, but this latest article paints it as if MLB is hell-bent on making this happen.

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#11 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 02:59 PM

 

From the article: "According to minor league calculations, over 2,000 years of combined minor league baseball history is about to be extinguished with these contractions."

 

Damn. Also ...

 

"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."

 

I did not take the earlier reports regarding this topic all that seriously, but this latest article paints it as if MLB is hell-bent on making this happen.

 

Yeah, and here's shocking news... this was conceived apparently by those pillars of all that is good and right, the Houston Astros. 

 

That's definitely who I would want guiding my decisions.

 

Daily News article here.

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#12 RaymondLuxuryYacht

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 04:56 PM

Man, I hate to see Elizabethton on this list.They seem to have been there since forever.


#13 Thrylos

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 05:26 PM

From that piece:

 

"Under a new proposal, 42 minor league teams would have their affiliations with major league clubs severed."

 

There is no way for the Elizabethton Twins to have its affiliation with the Minnesota Twins "severed", other than all out sale to a third party, because it is owned by the Twins (that ballpark is owned by the city/county.) So nobody in the their right mind will buy an asset that will go away. I suspect that something else is happening: towns with outdated ballparks and facilities will lose their teams that will move elsewhere. Has been happening for years.If a community will not support their team by modernizing their ballparks, the teams should go away to communities that will support them.

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#14 lamiwe21

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 06:01 PM

On Twitter, there is speculation you will see a league like the Southern League go back to block scheduling and the divisions do not play each other until the playoffs. So in my example, I would only see Montgomery, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Jacksonville @ Pensacola. This goes along with an article I read last week that stated MLB has already told leagues to get their league travel under 300 miles one way. I think if MLB and MILB would have gotten ahead of these leaks the narrative to these changes would look better. The majority of those stadiums outside of SS have all had major problems with weather, playing surfaces, and dated amenities. Read what the Astros experienced at Quad Cities this season and what happened in High A Daytona. I think along these changes will happen in phases after 202 after lawsuits. For example, the Pioneer League goes away, then the following year the Northwest League, and the etc.

#15 DocBauer

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 07:18 PM

While it is true the vast majority of milb players will never reach the majors, much less have a long and successful career there, they are, nonetheless, the lifeblood of MLB.

I also put stock in SD's comments about other personnel being groomed at the milb level, as well as fan interest.

If part of the problem is old, outdated and insufficient facilities, then how about the multi billion industry that is MLB partner with these cities to share the cost for upgrades and improvements. If the community doesn't wish to do so, or can't, then it's time to move on.

I can understand narrowing down the number of cities/leagues/levels and shortening the draft. Not saying I agree or not, but I can see it. But cutting the lifeline that feeds your industry makes absolutely no sense to me.
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#16 Kelly Vance

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 08:50 PM

What Doc said. 

 

I'd like to add. There might be people who would be willing to buy these minor league affiliates (and make improvements of all kinds)if they were available.If municipal parks were for sale and a new owner could then upgrade the new privately owned fields, would that change things?

 

Or do they just want to downsize? 

 

I don't think we need a draft with 30 rounds. I also don't think a little consolidation is a bad thing, if done correctly. But any way you greet tomorrow, changes are coming.  


#17 Mike Sixel

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 09:26 PM

Make no mistake. This is about cutting costs, plainly and simply. There is no other reason they would all do this together. Just look at MLB history.

Edit... And charging teams for moving divisions, I'd guess eventually charging all remaining teams some kind of fee.

Edited by Mike Sixel, 17 November 2019 - 09:37 PM.

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#18 SD Buhr

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 09:33 PM

 

On Twitter, there is speculation you will see a league like the Southern League go back to block scheduling and the divisions do not play each other until the playoffs. So in my example, I would only see Montgomery, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Jacksonville @ Pensacola. This goes along with an article I read last week that stated MLB has already told leagues to get their league travel under 300 miles one way. I think if MLB and MILB would have gotten ahead of these leaks the narrative to these changes would look better. The majority of those stadiums outside of SS have all had major problems with weather, playing surfaces, and dated amenities. Read what the Astros experienced at Quad Cities this season and what happened in High A Daytona. I think along these changes will happen in phases after 202 after lawsuits. For example, the Pioneer League goes away, then the following year the Northwest League, and the etc.

The block scheduling is overdue in some leagues. For instance, there's really no good reason the existing 16-team MWL hadn't already split into two 8 team leagues along current division lines. The teams only play one series a year against each team in the opposite division. Just make them separate leagues and be done with it.

 

But that's not happening b/c 3 of the West Division are going away.

 

As for the 300 mile thing, I hadn't read that, but there are existing requirements in the PDA that require off days if bus trips exceed a certain distance. I don't recall what it is, but 300 could be about it. That would also mean the proposed addition of St. Paul would almost have to be a AAA team, since only 6 MWL cities were within 300 miles of St. Paul... and they're axing 3 of those. 

 

The Northwest League isn't going anywhere yet, apparently. 6 of the 8 teams look safe, for now, and would presumably become a 6-team Low A league. In theory, they would replace the 3 MWL teams and 3 South Atlantic teams going away.

 

They also have something like 5 NY/Penn SS-A franchises and one Appy League team that aren't going away, so they'll need to find spots for them in Class A (maybe even AA, since I can't imagine Troy NY fitting into any Class A footprint.

 

On top of that, supposedly, some A teams are going to become AAA teams and some AAA will become A teams. They're also proposing to charge A teams moving up to AAA $12 million for the privilege. I can't wait to see which A level teams have 12 mil in the bank to pony up for that privilege.

 

When you sit down with maps of the various leagues (yes, I admit I'm weird enough that I've done this) and attendance/capacity figures, it['s really hard to figure out who they have in mind to move up/down.

Edited by SD Buhr, 17 November 2019 - 09:43 PM.

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#19 lamiwe21

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:15 PM

The Southern League last had block scheduling in 2003 and the main reason they discontinued it was that some teams were pitching fits about not having weekend and Holiday home dates. For a baseball fan point of view, it was nice seeing some teams anywhere from 3 to 4 times in one half and seeing all teams at least once each half.
One of my favorite things to do is to ask players that experienced the Pioneer League before last year about the travel. The stories never get old.

Edited by lamiwe21, 17 November 2019 - 10:17 PM.


#20 old nurse

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:08 PM

Congress weighed in. Bipartisan. https://www.theday.c...league-overhaul