M.L.B. Said to Be Pushing for major Overhaul of Minor Leagues, eliminate up to 40 teams.

lexrageorge

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Both LaLacheur and Hadlock are great experiences, especially for families. The idea that no-one goes to either is absurd. As is the idea that the Sea Dogs should move closer to Boston; honestly, it's less than 2 hours to Portland from most eastern Mass cities.

For some weird reason, the amount of money MLB makes or loses when I watch a game at these parks doesn't affect my fan experience. As for the pay scale of the players, I agree it's a problem, but for some reason I doubt this proposal changes that. MLB owners will act like most rich people do and simply pocket the savings.
 

NomarsFool

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If the idea is to lay-off 1000 minor league ballplayers and coaches so that they would (theoretically) pay the remaining players some more, call me non-plussed.

I think it's great that the Red Sox currently are able to help build their fan base with minor league teams around New England is great for them and good for the fans. I know it doesn't happen often, but I'm sure fans who live near Portland are thrilled when a major leaguer does a rehab stint there.

The leagues in very out of the way places are less of an asset to the club from a fan base perspective, I would think.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I also think that we are long overdue to have a tax bill that prevents issuance of tax free bonds for financing anything related to sports’ stadiums (I vaguely recall something like that passing somewhere at some point).
The provision was part of the 2017 Tax Reform proposals but I believe was removed by R Heller from NV (for obvious reasons) before passage and thus never became law.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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As for the pay scale of the players, I agree it's a problem, but for some reason I doubt this proposal changes that. MLB owners will act like most rich people do and simply pocket the savings.
I know it's shocking to hear but MLB isn't changing the minor league payscale because they are being altruistic but because they are on the wrong end - perhaps not legally but certainly from a public relations POV - on a lawsuit.



(Note that in 2017, Congress in its infinite wisdom passed legislation exempting minor leaguers from hour and overtime rules but I think MLB still realizes its not a good look to have their prospects playing/living/training in such horrible conditions.)
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Minor league baseball has been decreasing in size since the 1950's. There were 438 teams in 59 leagues in 1949. Now we have about 160 teams in 14 leagues, plus non-affiliated teams and leagues.
Branch Rickey was responsible for the modern farm system back in the mid 1920s after he began buying into independent minor league clubs when he was running the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, major league clubs only controlled 40 men (25 on the active roster and 15 who could be conditionally optioned). By controlling a minor league club's assets, he could move players back and forth without having to pay the price demanded by independent clubs, which allowed him to compete with major league teams with more money to spend. In 1940, the Cardinals had 31 farm teams. Other teams began following Rickey's example until the modern era was reached. The Red Sox farm system began in 1932 with two teams. Those two disappeared and the next season, the Red Sox had but one, reaching a high of 13 in 1948.
 

Plympton91

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Branch Rickey was responsible for the modern farm system back in the mid 1920s after he began buying into independent minor league clubs when he was running the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, major league clubs only controlled 40 men (25 on the active roster and 15 who could be conditionally optioned). By controlling a minor league club's assets, he could move players back and forth without having to pay the price demanded by independent clubs, which allowed him to compete with major league teams with more money to spend. In 1940, the Cardinals had 31 farm teams. Other teams began following Rickey's example until the modern era was reached. The Red Sox farm system began in 1932 with two teams. Those two disappeared and the next season, the Red Sox had but one, reaching a high of 13 in 1948.
Yet more evidence that the only “curse” in Boston was inept and backward thinking management.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Just off the top of my head...25-man roster, $1,000,000 (which is $40,000 apiece) --> 200 minor league players, $5,000 apiece. Seems to me that it wouldn't take very much at all to make a minor league player's life more livable (and if you don't want to take money from players making the MLB minimum, it could be a graduated "gift").
 

Cesar Crespo

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I assume that all these minor league teams make money. So, it's hard for me to understand how eliminating profitable businesses is in anyone's best interest.

Why would you assume this? And even if a minor league team is making money, that doesn't mean the big league club is making money off it.
 
Aug 11, 2019
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Yet more evidence that the only “curse” in Boston was inept and backward thinking management.
Except that the Boston Braves, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington Senators, New York Yankees, and New York Giants all began their farm systems in 1932, also.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Just off the top of my head...25-man roster, $1,000,000 (which is $40,000 apiece) --> 200 minor league players, $5,000 apiece. Seems to me that it wouldn't take very much at all to make a minor league player's life more livable (and if you don't want to take money from players making the MLB minimum, it could be a graduated "gift").
like 70-75 of those players only have jobs because the MLB can pay them $1100 a month. They have no future as MLB players and there's still plenty of competition in the minors for legit prospects. There's really no point in having 2 short season teams other than they can.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I feel like it needs to be pointed out that the system that Rickey pioneered, at least as far as the quantity of farm teams, had a lot to do with how players were scouted and acquired back then. There was no draft, there was only grassroots birddogging. The more affiliated farm teams a club had, the bigger their reach and the greater chance they had of discovering a gem of a prospect before someone else did. These days, that isn't necessary at all with the draft and the proliferation of video technology. No one is toiling away anonymously in some backwater league just waiting to be discovered by a team. If a player is good enough to be an MLB prospect, all 30 teams know who he is to some extent (or they have a scout who does), probably before he graduates high school. They don't need an affiliated minor league team within 150-200 miles of the guy in order to find him.

I don't want to see minor league teams go away, particularly in areas where if the team became unaffiliated, they'd lose half their drawing power. But at the same time, I can understand where MLB is coming from in deciding that maybe the system is a little too bloated (and probably has been for some time). It doesn't make a ton of sense to have two teams in which half are prospects and half are filler who have no prayer of advancing one level, let alone getting to MLB. If you can consolidate to one team of prospects and let the filler go, the system is more efficient.

It sucks that this is prompted by, or is happening in the shadow of the player compensation stuff. They shouldn't need to consolidate to pay minor leaguers a reasonable wage. But at the same time, I don't think they should be obligated to be paying those fair wages to players that everyone knows have no chance of moving on to compete at higher levels or ever contributing to a big league team.
 

Plympton91

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like 70-75 of those players only have jobs because the MLB can pay them $1100 a month. They have no future as MLB players and there's still plenty of competition in the minors for legit prospects. There's really no point in having 2 short season teams other than they can.
Then they should lose the reserve clause completely, be forced to cut the draft to 5 rounds, maximum, and compete for the best talent the same way Apple and Amazon do. By paying for it in a fair and free market, where players can leave at will for a better offer after every minor league season.

If they want special privileges like the current system of indentured servitude for up to 12 years and an antitrust exemption that lets them control entry and exit to the industry and specific markets, then they need to be much more highly regulated on both the quantity and quality of jobs they provide.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
And even if a minor league team is making money, that doesn't mean the big league club is making money off it.
I'm not sure what the current situation is (and I was unable to find the answer with a web search) but I have a recollection from around the time (~1994) that MLB set standards for seating and parking by team classification, the MLB franchises were also were taking a percentage of their minor league clubs' gates (5%, I think).

I might add in regard to some other discussions in this thread that high school players figured out how to play the "college card" when it came to the June draft a nad a lot of money MLB clubs are paying minor league players is for signing bonuses.
 

NomarsFool

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Why would you assume this? And even if a minor league team is making money, that doesn't mean the big league club is making money off it.
Because profitable businesses employ people, and employed people spend money on other things, leading to other employed people?

If the issue is just that the ML clubs want more money - they are going to have a hard time finding many on their side.

If there are minor league players making below minimum wage, that certainly has to be addressed - but I think that is likely a red herring to distract everyone.
 

Cumberland Blues

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If there are minor league players making below minimum wage, that certainly has to be addressed - but I think that is likely a red herring to distract everyone.
At the lower levels - minor league salaries are about $1100-1200/month - only paid during the season (spring training and fall leagues are unpaid) - so yeah, there are a bunch of minor leaguers making less than minimum wage....or perhaps right at the minimum wage if you assume playing ball is a 40hr/week gig - but I'm guessing the hours are quite a bit longer than that given the travel. And that's without getting into the whole minimum =/= livable wage discussion.
 

Cesar Crespo

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At the lower levels - minor league salaries are about $1100-1200/month - only paid during the season (spring training and fall leagues are unpaid) - so yeah, there are a bunch of minor leaguers making less than minimum wage....or perhaps right at the minimum wage if you assume playing ball is a 40hr/week gig - but I'm guessing the hours are quite a bit longer than that given the travel. And that's without getting into the whole minimum =/= livable wage discussion.
And those would be the jobs they are eliminating. AAA players make $82,122 year, AA players $23966. The average minor league salary is $12k/year. That number is driven down by short season players making $1,100 a month and only getting paid 3-4 months a year.

Side note: There were 176 minor league teams last year. Make it so teams only have 1 short season team and you can get to 150. Not sure how they would eliminate 40 teams from a possible 86 teams (56 short season, 30 lower class A) and have it make sense though. Eliminating 41 would make some sense. Teams would have their own AAA, AA, A+, A team and share a rookie ball team with another organization. Kinda like how the G League started out.
 

Cumberland Blues

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Those AAA and AA salaries are for guys on the 40-man roster. AA salary is $1700/month and AAA is 2150/month.

 

Cesar Crespo

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Those AAA and AA salaries are for guys on the 40-man roster. AA salary is $1700/month and AAA is 2150/month.

Right from the article: If a player becomes a minor league free agent, higher salaries can be negotiated

Most AAA players match that description.
 

Cumberland Blues

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Yeah, and I'm sure they're all getting lucrative free agent deals, lol. If you've not been on the 40 man - you're not getting a significant bump over the minimums outlined in the standard minor league player contract.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Yeah, and I'm sure they're all getting lucrative free agent deals, lol. If you've not been on the 40 man - you're not getting a significant bump over the minimums outlined in the standard minor league player contract.
They are getting $80-130k contracts because they are on the fringe of making the majors or have already made the Majors. Bryce Brentz is making closer to $100k than $15k.

The minor league players signing ml FA contracts are AAA players who have been around for 6+ years.
 

Cesar Crespo

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And even if you are right and Brentz made $20 k last year, that proves that even in an open market, a lot of minor league players aren't worth garbage.
 

Cumberland Blues

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If they've already made the majors - they were on a 40 man roster - those guys get paid a fair amount - nobody is disputing that. If you've never been on a 40 man roster, you are not getting paid.
 

Plympton91

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And even if you are right and Brentz made $20 k last year, that proves that even in an open market, a lot of minor league players aren't worth garbage.
Individually, no. But, teams don’t want raw 18 year old pitching draftees facing Bobby Dalbac, or raw 18 year old hitters facing Tanner Houck. So, they need to fill multiple levels with nonprospects to have the right development path. And, along the way, they sometimes find a late round draft pick who would be delivering Amazon packages under this new system.

Minor league players should have been unionized. They need it a lot more than major leaguers.
 
Aug 11, 2019
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Side note: There were 176 minor league teams last year. Make it so teams only have 1 short season team and you can get to 150. Not sure how they would eliminate 40 teams from a possible 86 teams (56 short season, 30 lower class A)
That's not the number I come up with for 2019 using bb-ref:

Each of the 30 MLB teams have one AAA/AA/A+/A clubs (120 clubs); 22 of them have Short Season A clubs (total is now 142). All 30 teams have one to three Rookie League clubs (total is now 199); and all 30 teams have one or two Foreign Rookie league clubs (the Indians and Brewers actually have 1.5 each as they split one club) so the final total would be 245.

The statement I saw the other day from MLB said there were 160 minor league clubs; you said there were 176. Neither of those numbers come up when you add the existing clubs. Why? I don't know.
 

Fred not Lynn

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I don’t think MILB and MLB like each other very much
Meanwhile, MLB is getting cozier with NCAA...

A combination of college ball and college summer leagues can meet the MLBs player development needs just as well as the low minors do now, while also providing an entertainment product to those markets that will lose affiliated MiLB teams...at lower cost across the board.

Why pay for players when you can at worst get them to play for free, and at even better get them to pay YOU for the privilege...?
 

Cesar Crespo

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That's not the number I come up with for 2019 using bb-ref:

Each of the 30 MLB teams have one AAA/AA/A+/A clubs (120 clubs); 22 of them have Short Season A clubs (total is now 142). All 30 teams have one to three Rookie League clubs (total is now 199); and all 30 teams have one or two Foreign Rookie league clubs (the Indians and Brewers actually have 1.5 each as they split one club) so the final total would be 245.

The statement I saw the other day from MLB said there were 160 minor league clubs; you said there were 176. Neither of those numbers come up when you add the existing clubs. Why? I don't know.
It's 176 without the DSL tams. Apparently it's more on bbref than milb. Maybe Missed a league or something.

edit: I missed the AZL. Either way, there's a shit load way more teams than 160 even if you don't include the DSL.
 
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Aug 11, 2019
387
There is an interesting article on Slate, Why MLB Declared War on the Minor Leagues: Baseball's plan to kill off dozens of affiliate teams is a clear act of collusion. One of the things mentioned is, "There’s also been speculation that MLB is hoping to increase its take from minor league profits—currently, minor league owners tithe 8 percent of their ticket revenues to their big league partners—perhaps by charging 'affiliation fees.'”

While that certainly is far from the gist of the article, I doubt that many of the readers were aware of the 8% return. Another point is that MLB Deputy Commissioner Hallam argued that MLB clubs pay minor league players nearly $500 million per year, a Baseball America reporter pointed out that more than 80% of that figure came from signing bonuses paid each year. Anyway, read.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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One of the things mentioned is, "There’s also been speculation that MLB is hoping to increase its take from minor league profits—currently, minor league owners tithe 8 percent of their ticket revenues to their big league partners—perhaps by charging 'affiliation fees.'”
It's amazing to me that people have this problem with both tithe and decimate:
tithe
/tīT͟H/

noun
  1. one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.
verb
  1. pay or give as a tithe.
    "he tithes 10 percent of his income to the church"
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Huh?

Earlier this year I got an email promo from them for whatever event they were running at one of their games. And here's their 2020 schedule:

The Brockton Rox were members of the Northern League in 2002 and the the Eastern Division of that league split off the next season and played as the Northeast League (both were independent pro leagues). Then in 2005, the Northeast League was rebranded as the Can-Am League where they played as a member through 2011. In 2012 they announced they would join the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a wood bat league which is not professional.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Exactly. They haven't been a Pro league in awhile. It was relatively small time there (in a good way) when they were pro, wth giveaways and mascots and dizzy bat races, etc. Now there is even less going on, although I guess the chances of seeing a future major leaguer might be higher.
 

JMDurron

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I don’t think MILB and MLB like each other very much.

Yikes.
Under "Clubhouse Conditions and Amenities", I'm curious what the reasoning is behind the "separate female clubhouse space" requirement MLB has apparently levied on MiLB. Is that just to accommodate female staff members, or is there some thought being given to accommodating potential female players sometime in the near future?
 

Reverend

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It is not the latter
I literally can’t even follow this thread because the subject keep changing.

I thought this was about whether or not the Rox were still a real team and now it’s about the reasoning about gendered clubhouses it something.

I don’t have a clue what’s going on here. Not a fucking clue.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
The MLB response contained this statement: "Players who choose not to attend college because they are selected in the draft, or leave after their junior year, often do not complete their education after being released."

For starters, some of the ones selected who chose not to attend college, may not have been qualified to attend college. Secondly, they may have been given very large bonuses (in the millions) to skip college and sign. Similarly, players who sign after their junior year in college may have wanted to sign after graduating high school but weren't offered a bonus they thought large enough. As a rule, the bonus is to get a player top sign a contract rather than continuing school; once he graduates college, he has essentially two paths: sign a contract with an MLB club or look for a job in his major.
 

JimD

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MLB is right to blast MiLB's position that the minor-league organization has the 'best interests of its community partners' when more than 75 minor league teams have abandoned communities since 1990.

Also, as much as I love the idea of a town like Batavia, New York having an MLB-affiliated baseball team, the fact is that it along with Auburn received significant assistance from New York State to build new baseball stadiums in the mid 1990's to keep their affiliations (I believe both municipalities own the stadiums). Auburn has done very well attendance-wise and has funded improvements over the years to Falcon Park to keep the playing field and facilities in good condition. Batavia's Dwyer Park is literally the exact same design as Falcon Park but news articles point out issues with poor field conditions and leaking clubhouse roofs. Hard not to make the argument that affiliated baseball is more viable in one community than the other.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
MLB is right to blast MiLB's position that the minor-league organization has the 'best interests of its community partners' when more than 75 minor league teams have abandoned communities since 1990.

Also, as much as I love the idea of a town like Batavia, New York having an MLB-affiliated baseball team, the fact is that it along with Auburn received significant assistance from New York State to build new baseball stadiums in the mid 1990's to keep their affiliations (I believe both municipalities own the stadiums). Auburn has done very well attendance-wise and has funded improvements over the years to Falcon Park to keep the playing field and facilities in good condition. Batavia's Dwyer Park is literally the exact same design as Falcon Park but news articles point out issues with poor field conditions and leaking clubhouse roofs. Hard not to make the argument that affiliated baseball is more viable in one community than the other.
The town of Auburn has almost twice the population as that of Batavia and it is also located in the Finger Lakes area, which probably provides more tourists during baseball season. Last year they were about even in attendance but in the five years before that, Auburn drew about 50% higher attendance, which may be why Batavia's Dwyer Park isn't in as good of shape. Batavia has averaged roughly 850 fans per game over the past five seasons. Where do they get their money other than tickets? Obviously, they sell concessions but there will be a limited number of hats and shirts sold. There was a while when teams changed their name quite often, which led to higher sales in team items but MLB put a stop to that (I think there must be a 3-year gap, now). They probably don't have any TV money coming in and not much in the way of income from radio broadcasts. There are the advertising signs on the fences but how much will they make from an auto dealer, or plumbing company or dentist in a town of 15,000? A lot of teams in small towns have concessions stands staffed by charities, who get a percentage of the take and don't have to pay the workers. You get up to solid Double-A clubs in larger towns and cities and it's a bit easier but someone still has to pay for the field lighting, upkeep, transportation of players to road games, etc.

Many years ago when I lived in Virginia, we suddenly got a minor league team in my town...the Alexandria Dukes, Class-A Carolina League. They played on the grounds next to a closed school. But that was a big problem because it was the grounds of a city school, even though closed year round, they were not allowed to sell beer and that led to the franchise being moved to the county south of the city.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Nice! I have this pennant in my laundry room.



It's hard not to look at soccer's minor league setup in this country and not wish for that with baseball. As someone living in a AAA market (Austin), my feelings pretty much line up with Posnaski's:

Charlotte is like most other cities in the United States. They want to root for a TEAM OF THEIR OWN. Sure, Indianapolis has a lot of Reds fans, Oklahoma City has a lot of Royals fans, Little Rock has a lot of Cardinals fans, Omaha has a lot of Cubs fans. But everyone knows that passion isn’t anything close to what it would be for a local team.

Charlotte, of course, has a local baseball team. That is the Charlotte Knights, a Class AAA team. Almost nobody cares about them. They are moving into a downtown stadium next year, and so people expect a little bit of buzz about them for a while but that buzz will fade and, once again, almost nobody will care about them. Is that because they are a minor league team? Maybe. I think differently.

I think it is because the Knights are not a REAL baseball team.

This is the core of minor league baseball in 2013. The Knights don’t play for Charlotte. They play for the Chicago White Sox.
 

Papo The Snow Tiger

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MLB is right to blast MiLB's position that the minor-league organization has the 'best interests of its community partners' when more than 75 minor league teams have abandoned communities since 1990.

Also, as much as I love the idea of a town like Batavia, New York having an MLB-affiliated baseball team, the fact is that it along with Auburn received significant assistance from New York State to build new baseball stadiums in the mid 1990's to keep their affiliations (I believe both municipalities own the stadiums). Auburn has done very well attendance-wise and has funded improvements over the years to Falcon Park to keep the playing field and facilities in good condition. Batavia's Dwyer Park is literally the exact same design as Falcon Park but news articles point out issues with poor field conditions and leaking clubhouse roofs. Hard not to make the argument that affiliated baseball is more viable in one community than the other.
I agree wholeheartedly with JimD's statement above that MLB is right to blast MiLB's position that the minor league organization also represents the "best interest of our community partners". First a disclaimer: It should be no mystery to anyone following the Minor League Forum that I'm no fan of the Hartford Yard Goats. Here's why: I was a big fan of their predecessor, the New Britain Rock Cats. The Rock Cats opened a brand new stadium in 1996, with financial support from the city of New Britain, the state of Connecticut, and New Britain's largest employer, Stanley Works. The new New Britain Stadium was a hit, with attendance and popularity increasing yearly, leading to a record attendance in 2010. The team was very well run, and the team was well supported. I even got to know the owner and often saw him at games talking with the fans. Then the ownership group sold the team. As a regular attendee at Rock Cats games I could see a difference at games after the sale. The new owner was NEVER at the games. He also really didn't understand how to run a team, and attendance started to drop. But rather than also representing " the best interests" of his community partners and trying to get the attendance figures back up, the new owner started secret, back room negotiations with the City of Hartford to build a new stadium and move the team 15 miles. There was no concern at all about what affect it would have on the city of New Britain. The new owner didn't put up a dime of his own money to finance the new stadium in Hartford. And for as far as having a concern for "the best interests" of New Britain, the ownership group tried to skip out on paying bills to the city of New Britain and left damage to the facility on their way out. In the meantime an Atlantic League team was brought in and failed, and now New Britain Stadium will be used for only 28 games a year by a wooden bat college summer league team.
 
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GoDa

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I'd like to see MLB switch to an EPL/Championship-esque model with relegation and promotion. Add somewhere between 10-18 "MLB" teams. The "A" league would have 24 teams broken into AL/NL and "B" league with 16-24 teams, similarly divided.

Shorten the season by 8 games. But, you can add mini-series to fight off relegation in the "A" league and promotion playoffs in the "B" league.