Major League Greed Threatens Minor League Towns. Real Americans In Congress Must Step In.
Don’t even think about shedding a tear for Major League Baseball owners who are trying to plead poverty. The same group of money-grubbing baseball-team sycophants –who underpay front office underlings at the major league level and who pay wages at the minor league level that a migrant farmworker would turn down– is now threatening to put approximately 1600 people out of work.
According to reporting by NBC’s Corky Siemaszko, MLB’s latest plan would kill 42 teams in the United States and the Dominican Republic.
“Oh, well it’s COVID-19,” you say.
No… unless COVID-19 stands for Completely Obtusely Idiotically Vile Dunderhead-decision-making-19 then… oh, wait. That’s exactly what it stands for.
Once again, owners are following the rule that what’s good for their wallets is all that’s important. There is a long list of things they’ve done under the Selig-Manfred era that have had disastrous or laughable results. There was the lockout in 1994 that killed the Expos. There was turning a blind eye to steroids and human growth hormone that led to a scarlet letter on the forehead of half a dozen great players who are –and should be— absent from the hall of fame.
And now, the latest addition to the list: wipe out one-quarter of the minor league teams to save money.
That means teams like the Burlington Bees, that’s the Los Angeles Angels’ Class A team in Iowa, are facing extinction. And why shouldn’t they, reason the owners. “That team’s ripe for coronavirus anyway,” they grouse. “It was born in 1889!”
This is what happens when you have Bud Selig Jr., AKA Rob Manfred, a commissioner who is beholden to the penny-clutching of owners when it comes to real people while doling out tens of millions of dollars in contracts to journeymen infielders who can’t hit .240.
But here’s the thing. The teams aren’t losing money. In fact, they’re making more of it than ever before. FOX broadcasts will continue through 2028 after a $5.1 billion extension the network and the league announced November 15, 2019. That’s 40 percent higher than the old contract. ESPN and Turner Sports are also negotiating deals and there is a $1 billion uniform deal with Nike.
According to Forbes, baseball owners saw a $300 million increase in revenues last year to $9.7 billion. If you think that contracts and bonuses are even close to that, you’re wrong. Salaries and benefits total $4.7 billion. Where’s the rest going? Certainly not to lower ticket prices for fans.
Are owners going to take a hit this year? Sure. But aren’t a lot of people without the means to make it through a couple of months of stay-at-home orders? It’s convenient that baseball’s commissioner and his puppet masters, the owners would use a pandemic as an excuse to do the wrong thing. But they likely will. Talks have been ongoing since February.
There is hope to be found… in Congress of all places. Politicians love baseball if for no other reason than loving baseball makes them appear to be more “American.”
Iowa Senator, Chuck Grassley (pretty good baseball name) told NBC he had spoken with MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem on Friday. about the endangered team. He says he received no promise regarding the fate of two of the five teams in the state.
“While Mr. Halem stated that negotiations are still ongoing, they’re working towards having a strong baseball presence in every community where it currently exists,” Grassley said.
Iowa’s other Republican senator, Joni Ernst, also gave notice a fight might be coming.
“Iowans need some good news these days,” she said in a statement. “And knowing that our minor league ball clubs can continue to be part of our state, would be just that, good news. I’ve made it clear to MLB how important our minor league teams are to Iowa.”
And Democrats from out of state are piling on, the most notable being Bernie Sanders, presidential candidate, who we can hope will still want to appear “American” even after blowing an early two-run lead in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Two sides coming together to save 42 towns from losing millions in economic revenue, not to mention centuries of history? Yeah. That’s something that could happen, especially since everyone’s playing nice now in the time of COVID-19. And don’t forget Congress was the entity –not Major League Baseball– that got the ball rolling to get performance-enhancing drugs out of the game. Baseball is exempt from anti-trust regulations. Baseball owners forget from time to time how their lives would be much, much different if they had to answer to the laws of the United States. I think it’s time our lawmakers remind them.
The Bees tell NBC they aren’t ready to throw in the towel.
“I know we are on the list to be cut and it is out of our control, but we hope and pray that we will have affiliated baseball at Burlington for years to come.” –Kim Parker Bee’s General Manager.
If that’s to happen there will need to be some buzzing inside the nation’s capitol. Ladies and gents, you’re unamerican if you don’t act, and soon.