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How About a Resolution?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Like when you do something for the first time, it seemed a bit strange to write the date 2020 as I prepared for this first column of the new year. Most likely many of us will have a few ‘date stumbles’ when we write our first check or fill out information at

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Like when you do something for the first time, it seemed a bit strange to write the date 2020 as I prepared for this first column of the new year. Most likely many of us will have a few ‘date stumbles’ when we write our first check or fill out information at the beginning of what is not only a new year but also a new decade. Think about that, those new year’s babies of the Y2K hysteria will soon be 20 year olds!

The often-used sports chant of ‘overrated’ could just as easily be applied to the fuss made over the clock striking midnight on December 31st. It sure is good we all made it to another year and it’s nice to share the occasion with family and friends, but spare me the ‘ball-dropping frenzy’ that culminates in New York City’s Times Square where hundreds of thousands of people mill about like grazing cattle for hours in a huge roped-off pen void of restroom facilities waiting for the descent of a huge lighted ball. However, I would like to have the Depends concession for that one.

Regardless of how you may choose to welcome in 2020 many will begin the year by making some sort of New Year’s resolution. If you are making a list and checking it twice the most common made resolutions include exercising more, losing weight, getting organized, learning a new skill or hobby, living life to the fullest and some sort of financial goal to either save more money or spend less of it.

Statistics indicate 41% of the American population will make a New Year’s resolution, By January 7, 72% will have kept that resolution. At six months, 44% will still be keeping same. However, by the end of the year, only 8% will be able to say they kept the resolution the entire year. In keeping with sports wagering parlance – bet the under.

Wouldn’t it be much more fun to make a resolution for someone else to keep? While you are thinking that one over, I’ll go ahead and start the game.

I am making a New Year’s resolution for Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hereby requesting that he resolve to revoke his stated plan to eliminate 42 existing Minor League Baseball teams across the country by 2021.

In case you are not aware of the Commissioner’s grand plan, MLB’s contract with Minor League Baseball expires at the conclusion of the 2020 playing season. His rationale involves around the following; MLB is losing money based upon the working agreements MLB teams have with their Minor League affiliates, a small percentage of those players playing in the low-level Minor League ever make it to the Major League, facilities at some Minor League locals are below the standards desired and the travel distances between communities in some leagues is excessive.

Arguments can be made in support of all of the above. HOWEVER such attrition would fly in the face of MLB’s stated goal to grow interest in the game, especially with younger people across the land. Local fans should be more well-aware of same than most. The popular MLB/Little League Classic played at Bowman Field for the past three years is a direct result of trying to heighten baseball interest among our nation’s youth.

It is even more ironic that our very own Williamsport Crosscutters that play in the host stadium for the MLB Classic are one of the 42 teams proposed to be eliminated. Speaking of fuzzy math, how does MLB generate growing interest in baseball among our youth by eliminating 42 baseball hosting communities? My own life-long interest in baseball was first nurtured at a very young age when my Dad first took me to see a Williamsport Grays game at Bowman Field.

For the record, in 2019 41-million fans paid their way thru the turnstiles at Minor League Baseball parks. That attendance is more than the National Football League (33.8 million), the National Hockey League (22 million) or the NBA (21.9 million) drew for the same period. The NY-Penn League’s season attendance was 1,316,800 including 64,148 fans at Crosscutters games.

Commissioner Manfred’s reduction plan would be a death sentence for the NY-Penn League as 9 of the league’s 14 teams are on the chopping block. Only Brooklyn (NY Mets), Hudson Valley (Tampa Bay), Tri City (Houston Astros), Aberdeen (Baltimore Orioles) and West Virginia (Pittsburgh Pirates) are the favored few. The first three were the top teams in the league in 2019 attendance figures. While it may, or may not have any bearing, the Houston Astros are believed to be one of the MLB teams most supportive of Manfred’s plan.

Since 1990 there have been 77 franchise relocations among Minor League Baseball teams. Exact information has not been released regarding what the Minor League landscape would look like in 2021 if the plan is adopted, but the best roadmap might be to follow the money. In the past when a franchise was moved it resulted in better facilities and a much greener money stream.

This is not yet a done deal and off the field baseball issues including anti-trust laws and minimum wage standards will surely become a part of the equation. By the way, did you know that players in the NY-Penn League (exempting those with bonus contracts) are paid $1,100 a month? Think about that, professional baseball players playing a 76-game season receive less than $3,300 for their efforts. Yet MLB is crying about losing money. Gerrit Cole’s recently signed $324-million deal will be paying him more than $1-million each time he starts a game for the New York Yankees.

“Say it ain’t so, Joe” was the famous quote involving Shoeless Joe Jackson’s participation in fixing the 1919 World Series a century ago as a member of the Chicago White Sox. Now, 100 years later the games very own Commissioner has hatched a plan to ‘fix’ Minor League Baseball.

I can only ask – Rob, don’t rob baseball fans in 42 American communities of their love of the game. Make your own resolution not to do so!

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