I literally teared up for a minute as I browsed through Twitter this afternoon reading about some of the minor league teams that were not invited to be part of Major League Baseball’s new 120-team structure.
Man, this sucks.
Our local Double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve, were never in jeopardy. The Curve are an elite minor league franchise with an excellent ballpark, and they are closely situated to Pittsburgh and many other teams in their Double-A league. The Curve are, in short, everything that MLB is looking for in a minor league affiliate.
Down the road in State College, the Spikes pretty much always knew their situation would be changing because MLB never had any intention of keeping short-season ball the way it was. Fortunately, the Spikes found an awesome landing spot as part of the new MLB Draft League, so that excellent franchise can continue to operate.
But there are many minor league franchises around the country that will not continue to operate.
Many cities will lose their team. Fans in those cities — the backbone cities of this country in some cases, and where baseball is still beloved by many — now have been robbed of their opportunity to have an affordable local entertainment option that they’ve loved and supported for many years.
Many good people are losing their jobs because of all this. Being a minor league employee is one of the most time-consuming jobs you’ll find, one where 80- to 100-hour work weeks are common and simply expected. Those people do their jobs and, while they may not like all the work, they do it because everything they do is geared toward keeping the ship afloat so that local fans can continue to have their affordable entertainment option.
I have covered minor league baseball for 23 years, 21 here in Altoona covering the Curve. I have made many, many friends over the years, and I know how hard they work. For all of the hard-working employees of minor league franchises across the country who are losing their job, all I can say is this: I’m sorry.
I’d love to launch angry insults at Major League Baseball for doing all of this, for putting everyone through all of this, when surely there could have been a better way. But I’ll write my angry feelings some other time.
Today is a tough day. It’s a day to be happy for the teams that made the list of 120, but also very sad for those franchises, cities, fans and employees that have to say goodbye to minor league baseball.
Good luck to all.