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Part of Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball’s plan to shrink the minor leagues revolves around the concept of “waste.” Per a report by Bill Madden, “waste” was an important reason to agree to this plan to disaffiliate 42 minor-league teams: you can see my reaction to that reveal as well, as it published here in mid-November. This time around, though, the focus is on what minor-league players think of this idea, that any player who doesn’t make it to the bigs was a “waste” of resources for MLB teams.
I spoke with three players — two former, one active but anonymous to protect them from any blowback from MLB — for a feature that published at TalkPoverty earlier this month, titled “Major League Baseball Wants to Crush 42 Minor League Teams — And Their Hometowns.” I asked them a wider range of questions than what was used in that one piece, however, including on the subject of “waste.”
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On December 24, 1969, Curt Flood sent a letter to then-MLB commissioner, Bowie Kuhn. The letter was to let Kuhn know that Flood did not believe he could be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, that the rights the Cardinals had over Flood — rights he had agreed to by signing with them — should not immediately transfer over to the Phillies, a team he did not agree to play or relocate for.
It was the start of something significant, and also, in essence, the end for Flood in Major League Baseball. He knew that going in, though, knew that by sending this letter to Kuhn, and later fighting MLB in the courts over his right to free agency, that even if he won, he had lost something. Flood knew all of that — executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Marvin Miller made sure, repeatedly, that Flood knew the score in this regard, and wrote at length about that in his memoir — and yet, he sent the letter and challenged MLB in the courts, anyway. We don’t talk about Curt Flood enough, you know.
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Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball met at the winter meetings to continue negotiations on a new Professional Baseball Agreement — the governing document for the relationship between MLB and MiLB — and those talks were not promising. If anything, everything surrounding MLB’s plan to disaffiliate 42 teams is somehow worse than it was before the latest talks, as the two sides brought a somewhat-public discussion fully into the public, and spent the end of the week sniping back and forth. This was ugly, and it’s only getting uglier.
MLB is protective of their plan, and, as Michael Silverman put it for The Boston Globe, fired back at Minor League Baseball owners for letting the public know that MLB’s plan to devastate dozens of communities with a connection to pro baseball and gut thousands of jobs is extremely unfair, poorly thought out, and is an excellent summation of the level of greed that’s currently in favor among MLB owners. MiLB then responded to this by going point-by-point on MLB’s plan, including tearing the “Dream League” idea to shreds by saying it’s completely nonviable both for affected MiLB owners and the smaller communities many of these disaffiliated teams hail from.