Baseball America reported Tuesday that Minor League Baseball was expected to concede to a plan to slash 40 teams from the league’s 160 affiliates during a Wednesday call with Major League Baseball to negotiate a new Professional Baseball Agreement. That report was quickly refuted by MiLB, however, and the conference call did not include a resolution on reducing the number of affiliates.
“The respective negotiating teams of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball held a constructive meeting on Wednesday,” read a joint statement released Thursday. “The parties are continuing their discussions, with the goal of concluding a mutually beneficial long-term agreement in the near future.”
This really isn’t saying anything at all, though it’s at least a little heartening to see the “mutually beneficial” part thrown in there. Exactly how beneficial this will be to whom remains to be seen, but one of these entities is far better equipped to handle a shortened or canceled season. And in case you’re unclear of which side that is, it’s the billionaires with the TV deals and huge fanbases.
While MLB teams rely on gate and concessions revenues for 25-40% of their total income, those figures are significantly higher for minor league outfits. And while some affiliates do get a bump from their association with a popular parent club, which is most definitely the case for the Cubs’ teams, most rely primarily on their respective communities. Having no baseball at all means having virtually no income.
So we’ll just have to wait and see where this thing goes as far as the business side of the equation. The emotional side certainly weighs heavily right now, with baseball-starved fans looking for just about anything to provide a little hope. Eliminating one-quarter of the minor league affiliates, many of which provide a great source of community pride and entertainment, would be a costly blow at a time when good news is already at a premium.
For more on how this could affect the Cubs and to get a list of all the proposed affiliate cuts, check the link at the top.