Yesterday morning, Baseball America broke the news that MiLB and MLB would be meeting today to negotiate the next PBA, with the former agreeing to the latter’s demands to reduce from 162 affiliates to 120. Yesterday afternoon, MiLB issued a “denial.”
Why the quotes? Note the Pitino-esque “largely.”
Plus, this isn’t just BA – multiple sources are reporting this.
If God is in the details—and so, so many are atheists—it’s worth taking a look at what will reportedly come with this Hobson’s choice:
- MLB will assume most of the day-to-day administration and control (like it did in the ’90s with the A.L. and N.L. offices)
- Affiliations will now resemble licensing agreements (like hotel or restaurant chains)
- MLB will sell media rights and sponsorship (like the formation of MLBAM)
If it seems like MiLB is giving up a lot, well, it’s because they are, and because they have to.
Unlike MLB, which has been increasingly making its money in ways independent of attendance, MiLB needs those asses in the seats, eating hot dogs, drinking beer, and buying overpriced souvenirs.
And if there’s no minor-league baseball in 2020, consider what that means for 2021 (from BA last week):
Without a season, the best way for minor league teams to take care of season ticket-holders and advertisers is to offer make-goods for 2021. With no 2020 season, an advertiser who has paid in full has effectively already paid for 2021. One who has made a partial payment is due a refund or some other make-good.
I suspect very strongly that MLB will be willing to help… for a share of the ownership, if not outright. As stated previously, experts believe the endgame has always been for MLB to buy back its affiliates for pennies on the dollar.
Perhaps the pandemic will achieve in one year instead of what might have been several.