There may not be a lot of attention on the baseball diamond right now but there are plenty of things happening behind the scenes that have made the news and should probably be talked about more. Major League Baseball had another terrific postseason with plenty of excitement, including a seven-game World Series.
Since the final out of the 2019 season was recorded, there has not been a lot of good things going for the league. From giving awards to players with histories of domestic violence and racist comments to having one of the biggest cheating scandals of recent memory seemingly just being swept under the rug, there has not been a lot of positives from the front office.
One of the biggest offseason storylines which may not be known to many casual fans is the league’s effort to eliminate 42 minor league teams from across the country.
MLB and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues — better known as the minor leagues — are due for a new Professional Baseball Agreement at the end of next year. During the negotiations, it was clear the two sides were not on the same page and have not been for a while.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred came out publicly during the Winter Meetings and essentially blamed the minor leagues for not being willing to negotiate any changes the MLB offices want to make.
Meanwhile, the Minor League Baseball office called those statements inaccurate and it made a public list of its stances toward the new PBA. MLB responded by threatening to abandon the minor league system completely, taking a big step up from eliminating 42 teams.
MLB’s biggest issues with the current system seems to be built around paying for the minor league teams without getting a cut of the profits from minor league games. While that may seem like a fair point, MLB certainly benefits from having farm systems to pull their players from and those players should be paid by the teams that have the rights to the players. And they should be paid more but that’s a debate for another day.
According to a report from Forbes, MLB brought in a record-breaking $1.2 billion in profits last season. The owners and franchises continue to get richer and contracts for the star players continue to grow but for some reason, they cannot (or just don’t want to) find the money to keep minor league baseball afloat or even pay the current minor league players a living wage.
I will always advocate for the minor league system to grow and improve. I grew up watching more minor league baseball games in person and I have so many memories from the minor league ballparks around the state.
Minor league baseball is a positive for any community to have and I have a good feeling there are thousands of fans who have great memories of those teams the MLB is trying to eliminate. The system is not perfect as is and there could definitely be changes made but the changes MLB is trying to force are headed in the wrong direction. Eliminating clubs is nothing more than a money grab which benefits very few at the top while players and fans miss out on the sport MLB is supposed to advocate for.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Tribune.