Unlike the growing number of people who say or do something abhorrent and are subsequently ostracized online or in real life, no one wanted Minor League Baseball to be cancelled. Well, okay, at least 30 MLB owners and any number of people in the league office wanted this to happen. Millions of fans and thousands of minor league players, not to mention thousands more people who work for the 162 different affiliates must now accept the inevitable.
Though everyone has known for several weeks what was going to happen, the official announcement came Tuesday afternoon following a meeting of MiLB’s board of trustees. Once MLB set its course, the next logical step was to inform Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner said in a statement. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
Now affiliated teams face the task of maintaining sponsorships for this season and taking care of season ticket refunds, basically all the revenue they generate. Without lucrative broadcast deals, MiLB teams rely on gate and concessions to a much greater degree than even the Cubs, who purportedly make 70% of their annual income on gamedays.
Minor league players can seek spots on independent rosters, but the risk of playing for a pittance outside the bounds of their parent club might not be worthwhile. In the best-case scenario, team facilities will reopen to prospects in order for them to get some kind of formal development underway again.
The minors will return next season, but not every team is going to make it and even those affiliated with the Cubs could look very different. To whatever extent you can, please support your local MiLB affiliates and the Cubs’ farm teams throughout the rest of the year. Even if it’s going online and buying a hat or a t-shirt, every little bit counts.
This is a sad day for baseball.