A few years ago, MLB wanted the “Save America’s Pastime Act” to be passed. To have it passed, Rob Manfred asked MiLB owners to support MLB, which some did. Now, a couple of years after the bill was passed, some MiLB owners feel betrayed. Here’s why.
With the plans presented last week, Minor League Baseball as we know it will disappear. The MiLB offices in St. Petersburg, Florida will be closed and minors will be run from the offices of MLB completely.
The “Save America’s Pastime Act” was nothing more than a bill to prevent MLB from paying the federal minimum wage. To have this bill passed, it asked MiLB owners for help as Manfred claimed it would keep Minor League Teams from being contracted…
“We were told very clearly if we didn’t get that thing passed, we would be staring down the barrel of contraction,” said Dave Heller, who owns four minor league teams. “So we were all supremely motivated to help MLB pass that legislation.”
Since October 2019, we all know what MLB is up to. We all know what a dirty game MLB owners are playing.
Not only MiLB owners must have been flabbergasted, also several Senators must have felt the same way. “One of the things that kind of burns me … they really leaned and relied on minor league baseball to come to people like me and say, ‘This is going to harm our teams,'” Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia told ESPN. “And now here we are. ‘Guess what: You’re going to lose all four of your teams in West Virginia.’ Huh?”
Even though MiLB and its owners have tried to make the best of it and to save as much as possible, MLB showed its disdain. After handing a blow to minor league players by lobbying for the bill that allowed MLB to keep paying starvation wages, it has dealt the final blow to an American icon. It has become very clear that all the excuses MLB used to right the contraction of 42 teams are purely nonsense. First they lobby for a bill that gives them the right to pay below the federal minimum and then they use the contraction as an excuse to pay their players a better wage… The latest plan is all about saving money and all about power. The latest plan in a nutshell:
- There will be only 120 affiliated teams, four per major league team. At least 42 teams will lose their affiliations, while some independent teams could become affiliates. Minor league owners don’t know which teams are on the cut list.
- There will no longer be rookie and short-season Class A levels. Lower-level players will train in their major league club’s spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida, but scores of paying jobs in the game will be lost.
- MLB will take over merchandising, broadcast and sponsorship rights, splitting net revenues 50-50 with the minor league clubs.
Perhaps the biggest slap in the face of Minor League owners is the last point. MLB is taking over merchandising, broadcast, and sponsorship rights. I have stopped buying MLB merch because of this attack on MiLB but would this mean that if I buy a Minor League cap to support a club, a part of the money will go to MLB? If that is the case, I will stop buying MiLB merch as well as I don’t want my money to go to MLB anymore.
It is clear that this new plan is spreading fear among MiLB owners. Most of them refuse to react, some do but anonymously as they fear retribution from MLB. They realize that MLB has all the power and they, the owners, are just a pawn in this game of chess.
In the old situation, minor league teams paid out 8.5% of their ticket revenue, about $20 million total, with 8% going to Major League Baseball and 0.5% going to MiLB. With the new plan, all of the 8.5% will go to MLB. But where should this 0.5% go when MiLB as an organization is not existing anymore.
For MiLB owners it is not about saving Minor League Baseball as we knew it. It is about to be one of the 120 clubs that will remain.
It is clear that MLB has betrayed the MLB owners by asking their help with getting the “Save America’s Pastime” Act. It show what a disgusting organization it is. An organization that does not deserve our support.