Minor League Baseball’s Brave New World

It was all about cost cutting.

The Lords of the Diamond, Major League Baseball owners have decided the old way of preparing minor league baseball players for the Major Leagues didn’t work for them anymore and are blazing a new trail. A trail that probably will save the lords a very small amount of money in the overall schemes of things. If there is a 2021 Minor League Baseball season, and that remains an if unless COVID-19 is contained, Minor League Baseball will look very different. MLB jettisoned 42 teams and short season entry leagues. Some of those cities that were deemed unnecessary for the minor leagues will re-emerge with what is essentially a team made up of unpaid college players. It saves money when you don’t have to pay players. Some former minor league owners have decided to sue MLB after being thrown out. Some members of the Senate are angry but MLB owners don’t care.

MLB claims that the new business model will increase player salaries ranging from 38 to 72 percent in 2021. It will modernize facility standards and improve amenities and working conditions for players and staff. That means elected officials in cities that want or want to keep minor league teams better be prepared to spend money to keep stadiums up to some MLB standard. It will also reduce in-season travel for players and coaches and allow for better geographical alignment. It is all about money. In 2018, MLB lobbied Congress to marginalize minor league baseball players in the 2018 federal budget, utilizing a mechanism to suppress the salaries of minor league players. The 2018 budget created a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The players received as little as $1,100 a month for four 40-hour or more monthly work weeks per the Save America’s Pastime Act. It is a brave new world.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/author/evan-weiner/id595575191  

FILE – In this May 29, 2019, file photo, Birmingham Barons outfielder Luis Basabe moves toward a ball in front of the vintage scoreboard at Rickwood Field, America’s oldest baseball park, during a Double-A game between the Barons and the Montgomery Biscuits in Birmingham, Ala. Major League Baseball has reorganized its minor leagues in a 120-team regional alignment, MLB announced, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The leagues have not yet been named and Major league owners, Commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff have not decided whether to retain the traditional names of the leagues, such as Pacific Coast League. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)