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Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat for December 10, 2020

Ballpark Digest squareJesse Goldberg-Strassler and Kevin Reichard discuss the big reveal of the 120 MiLB teams for 2021, what angst it caused in the MiLB world, how this process is far from over, and what comes next, on this week’s special edition of the Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat.

The weekly edition of the Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat will return in February 2021. For this one-off episode, here are the topics:

  • Yesterday 120 teams were invited to be part of Minor League Baseball under the new MLB plan. These are just invites, and things are still unsettled: MLB still needs to share its Professional Development License with MiLB teams, which won’t happen until the beginning of the year. 
  • League lineups are still not final, and with the potential of inter-league play, leagues may not be important. And MLB will be treating leagues in a different manner than they existed in the old MiLB days.
  • Despite the lack of details, Kevin doesn’t see any MiLB invitees turning down an invite: Most teams simply don’t have another attractive choice.
  • There is a lot of bad information out here regarding the MiLB reorganization. At its core, the MiLB reorg is a business story, not a baseball story, and sportswriters tend to be terrible business reporters.
  • For teams not receiving invites, there’s a lack of information moving forward. MLB makes vague promises about taking care of them, but MLB can only offer so much—and usually it means moving to an MLB Partner League.
  • Jesse details how the uncertainty surrounding the process can be debilitating for an MiLB employee. There’s always offseason uncertainty, but it’s been made worse by the COVID-19 2020 shutdown and the MiLB reorg. No one seems happy with the process—including a bunch of MLB types who didn’t see this process filling their needs, either.
  • Big winners in the process: the Miami Marlins in adding Pensacola and Beloit while benefiting from a move of Jacksonville to Triple A, and the Minnesota Twins in adding a crosstown Triple-A partner in the form of the St. Paul Saints and a desirable Double-A affiliate in the form of the Wichita Wind Surge.
  • Bottom line is that we need baseball in 2021: we need spring training and a regular season to restore the game.
  • Jesse discusses what it means to go through an affiliate change, as this is his first one working for the Lansing Lugnuts. It will shake up his routines and moving to a new set of MiLB partners—the Oakland Athletics affiliates—will be a change. Lansing had been a Toronto affiliate, and the teams in the Toronto system had established plenty of connections.
  • One side effect to this new deal: cities will be incentivized to address facilities to either reenter MiLB or raise a level. The Boise Hawks say they’ll be working to land a new ballpark and Triple-A baseball, not the Northwest League, and cities like San Antonio will see some pressure to upgrade facilities.

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is the Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and the author of The Baseball Thesaurus and The Football Thesaurus from August PublicationsMick Gillispie is the Voice of the Tennessee Smokies and a spring-training Voice of the Chicago Cubs. Kevin Reichard is publisher at August Publications and Ballpark Digest.

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