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  • This season, MLB Fining Parent Clubs for Minor-League Brawls

    Melissa Berman

    Everyone knows that the first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club, but under new Major League Baseball rules, everyone will hear about minor league fights, including the team’s parent MLB organization. And they will have to pay up for them too.

    Image courtesy of Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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    ²In an attermpt to crack down on brawls and brouhaha in the minor leagues, MLB has instituted a fine of the parent club of any minor league team with a bench-clearing incident. In practice, this means if the players leave either the dugout or bullpen. The fine starts at $500 and doubles with every subsequent incident. So, $1000 after the second one, $2000 after the third one and so on. A team would need to get in 11 scraps to hit the million-dollar mark ($1,023,500, to be exact), which will never happen.

    MLB overhauled minor league baseball ahead of the 2021 season, including scheduling. Teams now frequently play each other for six straight games. For example, the St. Paul Saints just finished a 6-game home series against our old friend, the Rochester Red Wings. The team is in Columbus for a 6-game series against Cleveland's AAA affiliate this week. As we know from road trips or family get-togethers, too much togetherness can raise some tensions and lead to some short fuses.

    This change comes as MLB makes a host of moves in the name of player health and safety, including increasing the size of its bases and keeping the somewhat-maligned “ghost runner rule” for another season. There have also been several headline-grabbing minor league fights this year, including a brawl between the Mets and Red Sox Double-A affiliates in April.

    My take
    While $500 or $1000 seems like pocket change to billion-dollar organizations (and it is), no one wants to make the big boss upstairs angry, especially when that big boss is the one who controls your fate (whether or not you're called up to the bigs as a player or a coach). To me, the increased parent organization oversight on fights seems to be more of a deterrent than the actual money fine. No one wants to make mom and dad angry.

    Even though some fans might enjoy the raucousness of fights, no one can argue that they are beneficial or becoming of the sport of baseball, which prides itself in being a family-friendly game. Fans looking to see some fights would be better suited to watch hockey, where the players are wearing protective padding and cannot plant their feet and wind up due to standing on skates. Will the new parent club fine actually serve as a deterrent in the heat of the moment when tensions are high during a game? I somewhat doubt it, but making this move is in line with MLB's other stated health and player safety goals, so its implementation makes sense.


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    Well, do fans of baeball rally go to minor league games to see fights?

    I go to see top-flight prospects in competitive play.

    I have lots of friends who go because of all the other antics that surround the game.


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    With how teams treat the minor leaguers already, it is as if they're pre-punishing the players already. Now with the fines it gives MLB more reason to be cheap with the minor leagues. Yippie.

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