What has happened to the world of Minor League Baseball in the last 18 months is a travesty and a stomach punch to all stadium travelers. So much history, familiarity and independence has disappeared thanks to the greed of MLB in what is just another notch on their belt. The number of disgraceful acts during Rob Manfred’s tenure is surely into double-digits, but this one really hits home as the big boys took over the entire minor league system. It goes beyond the 40 teams that didn’t make the cut as their complete ownership means they can do things like demanding cities to “improve your ballpark or lose the team”. Every single thing will be about them and not the minor league or team. Just read this quote from the Toronto Blue Jays where they basically said they may take over Sahlen Field this summer, but don’t worry they’ll find a place for “our Triple-A team” (he couldn’t even be bothered to call the Buffalo Bisons by name). Schedules this season feature no playoffs, 6-game series’ and some teams just seeing 4 opponents the entire year. Whether this is because of Covid or not remains to be seen. The biggest thing to me that shows “he don’t give an F about nothin!” is the asinine league names as the Erie Seawolves no longer play in the Eastern League, but rather the “AA Northeast – Southwest Division”. This is likely a placeholder for future corporate sponsorship. I will not be using those stupid names on my website as references will be on the original names and for the mismash of teams in High-A East, I’ll call that one the “Mid-Atlantic League”.
As crushing as this has all been to me and my love of minor-league sports, I sadly know that it only truly bothers a tiny fraction of the population. When you go to a minor-league baseball game, who there knows what league the team plays in? Do they care? Do they know where the team is in the standings? In all of my experiences, I would probably say that about 5-10% in the ballpark have a vested interest in the team. Everyone else is there for a fun time out and the promotions and sideshows and etc. Just look at the small numbers who attend the games that matter (playoffs) as crowds of a lesser size occur then compared to when the summer group outings and giveaways take place. While I’d love to boycott what MLB has done, I know that the crowds will still be there just like before and the show will go on and I’ll still be taking in the ballpark experience. But I’m pretty sure I’d rather own the Lexington Legends and control my own destiny in the Atlantic League than be an owner of the Louisville Bats and have MLB breathing down my neck.