Sport: Rob Manfred’s plan to destroy minor league baseball - - PressFrom - US

Sport Rob Manfred’s plan to destroy minor league baseball

17:50  16 november  2019
17:50  16 november  2019 Source:

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Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB)

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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.

Rob Manfred wearing a suit and tie© John Minchillo

In recent weeks, details of the plan have 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.

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As with nearly all North American professional team sports, the size of Minor League Baseball teams is limited by rosters. These size limits vary by each classification. All Major League Baseball -affiliated Triple-A and Double-A teams are limited to 25-man active rosters.

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.

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has yet another stupid idea to fix baseball . 0 New, 74comments. Stop it. Oh, yes friends, this is the newest step in Manfred ’ s great plan to improve baseball . Not by looking at any of the actual problems that could be addressed.

Throughout the history of Major League Baseball (MLB), franchises have had various postseason and World Series droughts. All 16 of the original Major League franchises

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.

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.)

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“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.”

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The 1965 Major League Baseball Draft is the first year in which a draft took place for Major League Baseball . It was held on June 8–9 in New York City. In Major League Baseball ' s first Free Agent Amateur Draft

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 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 — which, by the way, 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.

Congresswoman Trahan fires back at ‘dismissive tone’ of MLB commish on minor-league contraction

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When Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred landed at Fort Bragg on Sunday afternoon for that night' s game between the Marlins and Braves at newly constructed Fort Bragg Field, he hit the tarmac at the same spot from which our troops Manfred honored to bring baseball to Fort Bragg.

Baseball draft of amateur players by Major League Baseball . Minor League Baseball . Authentication Program. Commissioner: Rob Manfred . League Presidents.

a group of baseball players that are standing in front of a crowd© Gene J. Puskar

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.

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By June, the league announced that all cities with interest in the proposed franchises should submit their intentions by June In addition, the two expansion teams gave away their rights to million from baseball ' s central fund for Contraction attempt. Commissioner: Rob Manfred . League Presidents.

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?

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a group of military men: Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is presented with the ALCS MVP Trophy after defeating the New York Yankees in game six of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019.

Bernie Sanders condemns MLB proposal to cut 42 minor-league teams .
United States Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is urging Major League Baseball and commissioner Rob Manfred against potentially cutting more than 40 minor-league teams. "I am writing to urge you and the owners of Major League Baseball franchises not to eliminate any of the 42 Minor League Baseball clubs that have been put on the chopping block," Sanders wrote in an open letter Monday. "Shutting down 25 percent of"I am writing to urge you and the owners of Major League Baseball franchises not to eliminate any of the 42 Minor League Baseball clubs that have been put on the chopping block," Sanders wrote in an open letter Monday.

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