Like many people
who watch baseball who have a heart, we have been dismayed at worker compensation for minor league baseball teams. For a league with profit margins as large as Major League Baseball and for a league where the most exciting players are not even arbritation elgible yet, it seems like a no brainer to treat the kids well.
And by well we mean – a living wage, housing a meals to essentially not quite adult yet bseball players who are trying to become fit whiel surving on whatever they can get. While MLB players at the minimum make salaries 10x the average first year teaching salary in New Jersey, minor league players are lucky if they can break 10k over the course of the year.
This issue was made worse by Baseball baking into the Tax Code the “Protect America’s Past Time Act” which allows baseball to pay MiLB’ers as apprentices to avoid lawsuits overwages.
Now the MLB is taking another drastic step. Manfred is planning on eliminating 42 minor league teams, including entire short season leagues. Two Mets teams are on the chopping block – Binghamton and Kingsports. So in addition hurting individual players, the league is now going to hurt cities and taxpayers.
Not all MiLB teams are profitable but cities have poured tax breaks into stadiums and deals that are now threatened by this move. Teams also support dozens of local jobs in their individual townships.
To get more specific, I’ve been to 6 teams that are set to be eliminated: Binghamton, Vermont Lake Monsters (Burlington), Bristol (TN/VA), Frederick, Hagerstown and Mahoning Valley. The new ownership in Binghamton has spent the last couple of years spending a lot of money to upgrade the ballpark and it looks great. I’ve been there three times now in the last decade and the last time was by far the best and the most packed. Frederick has been part of the Maryland community for years. Hagerstown even longer, playing in an incredibly historic stadium. Bristol uses a high school stadium. Burlington uses a college stadium that has also been around for forever. For Bristol and Burlington – they do the rare thing in sports where a field is being used by multiple teams to make it worth upkeeping.
I’m already bracing myself for this elimination to happen. It’s a shame though, driving around to different cities to watch Minor League Baseball is the best and now dozens of cities are in jeopardy of having abandoned stadiums as monuments to major league baseball’s greed.