We’re closing in on a month since Major League Baseball postponed Opening Day. Rob Manfred remains optimistic, saying that he “fully anticipate[s] baseball will return this season.”
The context of this quote was Manfred telling teams that, as of May 1, they’ll be allowed to furlough or reduce the pay of staff members due to the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manfred said that he’ll suspend Uniform Employee Contracts, meaning it’ll be up to teams to determine whether people such as managers, coaches, and other baseball operations staff will be paid or if they’ll be furloughed. So, yeah, that quote was just Manfred re-assuring employees who might not be getting paid in a few weeks that he figures baseball will be back at some point.
The Blue Jays are among the teams who have committed to paying baseball operations employees through May. Among the teams who aren’t are the New York Yankees.
Elsewhere, MLB’s newest plan for playing out 2020 involves adding Texas to the mix along with Florida and Arizona. I don’t know if they’re actively referring to it as their three-state-solution, but MLB is apparently now considering playing in three states because it would give them access to five Major League Baseball stadiums, all of which have roofs.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, the Korean Baseball Organization has set a full 144-game schedule that’ll tentatively begin on May 5.
https://t.co/iq9bu0u0np Korea set its Opening Day for May 5. It plans a full 144-game season. But there is a HUGE caveat.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) April 21, 2020
The big catch that Joel Sherman mentions in his tweet is that if anyone involved in the league, whether it’s a player or a coach or a clubhouse attendant, tests positive for COVID-19, the league will be suspended for three weeks.
Korea, of course, has done an excellent job handling the virus as the country had only 13 new reported cases on Monday. If anybody could execute running a professional sports league during this pandemic, it’s them. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.
The big news of the day is this bombshell from Baseball America, as MiLB is apparently set to agree with Major League Baseball to chop the amount of affiliated minor league teams from 160 to 120. MiLB has since denied BA’s report.
MLB and MiLB negotiators are expected to reconvene on a conference call tomorrow.
MiLB will indicate that they agree to a reduction 120 affiliated teams in a new PBA.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 21, 2020
We’ll have to wait and see what actually happens, but, as of right now, it seems that a quarter of minor-league teams will lose their affiliation, a bunch of other teams will change their affiliation, and leagues will change their composition. It appears each of the 30 teams will then operate with four full-season affiliates and one rookie-league team and the draft will permanently be scaled back to 20 or 25 rounds.
The goal here, to put it nicely, is for MLB to streamline its player development systems. To put it more bluntly, this is a way for MLB to save a butt-load of cash. With fewer affiliates, you have to pay fewer players and fewer coaches and fewer bus fares and airplane tickets and meals and whatever else. An even more cold, heartless way of viewing it is that having fewer players in the system means less time can be wasted working with players who will never be anything more than organizational depth.
Logically, for the business, I guess it makes sense. But, big-picture, it’s pretty depressing. It ultimately means fewer people are following their dream of being a professional baseball player and it means fewer people are watching professional baseball. Maybe I’m being overly romantic about it, but isn’t that the point of this sport? I still haven’t gotten over losing the Edmonton Trappers in 2004.
Anyways, as far as I know, the Bluefield Blue Jays are the only Blue Jays affiliated team on the chopping block. The Vancouver Canadians, who operate in a short-season rookie league, would likely then be shifted to a different league. Again, there’s a lot up in the air here. We’ll see what comes of the call tomorrow.