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13 hours ago, rams80 said:

Quad Cities were on the list because Houston wrote the list, they're an Astros affiliate, and the Astros braintrust chose to be annoyed at how the River Bandits couldn't access their stadium due to flooding this past season.

Oh, the H on the star is for hubris.

 

  

12 hours ago, GDAWG said:

 

Houston wrote the list?  Why is that not surprising?

 

Behold the genius of McKinsey consultants: only their throbbing brains can come up "have you tried massive layoffs"

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On 1/10/2020 at 8:07 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

An independent league team can operate with lower overhead, so could conceivably make a go of it in a city where affiliated ball could not.

 

Still, even if a given city cannot support even an independent league team, the glut of players means that independent leagues are bound to find owners who want to start new teams somewhere. 

 

I work for an independent league baseball team. Care to elaborate here?

 

Until you do... no. Independent league overhead is sky-high compared to affiliated overhead.

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4 minutes ago, sc49erfan15 said:

 

I work for an independent league baseball team. Care to elaborate here?

 

Until you do... no. Independent league overhead is sky-high compared to affiliated overhead.

 

 

all Cesarano's posts in this thread now = tenor.gif

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30 minutes ago, sc49erfan15 said:

I work for an independent league baseball team. Care to elaborate here?

 

Until you do... no. Independent league overhead is sky-high compared to affiliated overhead.

 

For one thing, there are no stadium standards that are imposed upon an independent team, as there are on teams in every level of the affiliated minors.

 

Also, the front office staff can be much smaller, as one person can perform the functions of P.R. director, radio announcer, ticket sales manager, and so forth.

 

38 minutes ago, the admiral said:

all Cesarano's posts in this thread now = tenor.gif

 

More like:

 

Hdz.gif

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1 hour ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

For one thing, there are no stadium standards that are imposed upon an independent team, as there are on teams in every level of the affiliated minors.

 

Also, the front office staff can be much smaller, as one person can perform the functions of P.R. director, radio announcer, ticket sales manager, and so forth.

 

I fail to see how stadium standards are relevant to MiLB vs. Indy overhead costs. It's not like any decent Indy circuit (looking at you, Pecos League) is going to be playing in 800-seat Legion ball fields with no amenities. In fact, affiliated teams (e.g., Appalachian League) are currently the ones playing in these types of venues.

 

One person running P.R., radio announcer, and ticket sales? Are you aware of how different these roles are? Why don't we stick them in right field while we're at it?

 

I seem to remember you complaining about the unprofessionalism of the New York Streets of the NAL. Something about trying to order merchandise, but having difficulty finding someone to sell you said merchandise. I remember this because I nearly worked in the NAL as well. Know why you had such issues? Because they likely had the same person running PR, merchandise, and gameday operations. Bare-bones staff = bare-bones experience, which no one attending a minor league sporting event wants. Which is part of why that team no longer exists.

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2 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

Also, the front office staff can be much smaller, as one person can perform the functions of P.R. director, radio announcer, ticket sales manager, and so forth.

 

Socialism with Bain Capital characteristics

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10 minutes ago, sc49erfan15 said:

I fail to see how stadium standards are relevant to MiLB vs. Indy overhead costs.

 

I have read that one of Major League Baseball's reasons for wanting to contract several minor league teams is its contention that many of the ballparks do not meet its standards.  An owner of an independent league team playing in such a ballpark would not have to pay for upgrades (or else would not have to try to convince the municipality or the county to pay for them).

 

 

26 minutes ago, sc49erfan15 said:

I seem to remember you complaining about the unprofessionalism of the New York Streets of the NAL. Something about trying to order merchandise, but having difficulty finding someone to sell you said merchandise. I remember this because I nearly worked in the NAL as well. Know why you had such issues? Because they likely had the same person running PR, merchandise, and gameday operations. Bare-bones staff = bare-bones experience, which no one attending a minor league sporting event wants.

 

That was almost certainly the case at the New York Streets. Still, is the practice of wearing many hats not the norm? 

 

When the Newark Bears were in the Atlantic League, I once called their office to ask about merchandise, and the phone was answered by radio announcer Dave Popkin, who was tasked as well with selling tickets. A later Bears announcer, Victor Rojas, was also the team's G.M.

 

My assumption has been that, if this the way it's done at an independent league team in a big city with a relatively big budget, a team that at various points in its history employed Rickey Henderson, Jim Leyritz, Ozzie Canseco, Jose Canseco, and Jose Lima (three of whom went back to the Majors after having played for the Bears), then the smaller and less wealthy teams are probably doing the same thing.

 

This is why I imagined that the staff of an independent league team would tend to be much smaller than that of an affiliated team. But if you with your experience say that that's not the case, then I will accept that my assumption was wrong.

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40 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

I have read that one of Major League Baseball's reasons for wanting to contract several minor league teams is its contention that many of the ballparks do not meet its standards.  An owner of an independent league team playing in such a ballpark would not have to pay for upgrades (or else would not have to try to convince the municipality or the county to pay for them).

 

 

 

That was almost certainly the case at the New York Streets. Still, is the practice of wearing many hats not the norm? 

 

When the Newark Bears were in the Atlantic League, I once called their office to ask about merchandise, and the phone was answered by radio announcer Dave Popkin, who was tasked as well with selling tickets. A later Bears announcer, Victor Rojas, was also the team's G.M.

 

My assumption has been that, if this the way it's done at an independent league team in a big city with a relatively big budget, a team that at various points in its history employed Rickey Henderson, Jim Leyritz, Ozzie Canseco, Jose Canseco, and Jose Lima (three of whom went back to the Majors after having played for the Bears), then the smaller and less wealthy teams are probably doing the same thing.

 

This is why I imagined that the staff of an independent league team would tend to be much smaller than that of an affiliated team. But if you with your experience say that that's not the case, then I will accept that my assumption was wrong.

 

Re: stadiums - the affiliated teams aren't forking over the cash for upgrades/renovations either. At least not for any major ones. I'm not aware of any affiliated MiLB team owning its own stadium. Affiliated teams playing in subpar facilities (continuing to use the Appalachian League example from earlier, because I've been to two of those stadiums) survive largely because they're subsidized by MLB. Trying to survive solely on fan interest and ticket sales in a 2,500 seat ballpark (and it's definitely a ballpark, not a stadium) in Danville, Virginia is a fool's errand for all involved.

 

Yes, independent ball front offices tend to be smaller than affiliated - I've worked in both. Indy ball folks tend to wear more hats. Because indy ball teams actually have to - gasp! - pay their players! Even at the laughable amount $2,000 a month per player (don't forget per diems), a roster of 25 adds up fast. Something like radio announcer - sure, that's a part-time gig that can more easily be handled by someone else in the organization, provided they're personable and knowledgeable enough about the game to fill the dead air on radio. But if we're talking legitimate full-time front office positions (GM and/or assistant GM, ticketing/box office, corporate sales, merchandising/retail, facilities, game operations, PR/media, etc.) those aren't generally the types of positions that can be combined. If they were easily combined, all teams would have a front office of 3 people and a zillion unpaid interns - and that's with minor league teams (both affiliated and independent) heavily relying (too much, if you ask me) on unpaid interns as it is.

 

Point is, independent teams are nearly always going to have stretch their dollar more due to that higher overhead because they have players to pay. 

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50 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

I have read that one of Major League Baseball's reasons for wanting to contract several minor league teams is its contention that many of the ballparks do not meet its standards.  An owner of an independent league team playing in such a ballpark would not have to pay for upgrades (or else would not have to try to convince the municipality or the county to pay for them).

 

Newsflash: The majority of baseball fans won't pay money to watch single A quality baseball in a :censored: park. "Hey, we play lousy baseball in a dilapidated :censored:-hole" isn't exactly the best marketing strategy. 

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1 hour ago, infrared41 said:

 

Newsflash: The majority of baseball fans won't pay money to watch single A quality baseball in a :censored: park. "Hey, we play lousy baseball in a dilapidated :censored:-hole" isn't exactly the best marketing strategy. 

 

People love The Natural and Bull Durham. An enterprising team could sell that entire experience.

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1 hour ago, DG_Now said:

 

People love The Natural and Bull Durham. An enterprising team could sell that entire experience.

 

As someone who spent two summers at old MacArthur Stadium in Syracuse, I can tell you that the "experience" of baseball in a run down old Minor League park goes away quickly. Add the fact that the quality of play in independent baseball is generally about the same as Single A and I don't see how it could possibly work. As I said before, bad baseball in a lousy park is a tough sell. 

 

There's a reason teams like the Syracuse Chiefs, Toledo Mud Hens, Columbus Clippers*, and a bunch of others went from 800 fans a game to 7,000 a game when they opened new parks.

 

*Huntington Field in Columbus is the nicest ballpark I've ever been to. Major or Minor League.  

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"Upgrades" is kind of a bull :censored: handwavy excuse anyway since the majors have never gone on the record as to saying what specifically it is they want from facilities at any point in this cycle.

 

Kind of like saying you'll solve a huge budget hole by "cutting waste and fraud".

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The reality of independent minor-pro baseball isn't one St. Paul Saints-level success story after another. Far from it. 

Since the birth of the modern independent-pro baseball movement in 1993, my back-of-envelope math accounts for 35 leagues having taken the field at one point or another. Of those, 11 played a single season. Another 7 made it through a mere two seasons. A pair of circuits completed just three seasons. Four leagues made it through just four seasons of competition. One league contested only five seasons. Two leagues completed just six seasons. A single league each completed seven, eight, and nine seasons respectively.

Certainly, there have been cases of longevity. The Frontier League has survived for 27 seasons. The Atlantic League has put 22 seasons in the books. The Northern League survived for 18 seasons before folding after completion of the 2010 campaign. The Can-Am League played 15 seasons before announcing a merger with the Frontier League this off-season. The American Association just completed its 14th season.

That said, independent minor-pro baseball hasn't been - and isn't today - a world of sunshine and lollipops. Many leagues and their member teams have barely managed to eke out an existence. Indeed, many continue to just hobble along. 

For instance, take that proud example of indy baseball longevity, the Frontier League. It's seen a minimum of 20 franchise relocations, at least four teams leave the league for other indy circuits or collegiate summer leagues, and about a dozen clubs fold during its 27-years of operation. Here's just one Frontier League story that's emblematic of the situation in indy ball. Launching in 1993, the Frontier League's Ohio Valley Redcoats were a charter member of the circuit, playing their first six seasons in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The team relocated to Huntingburg, Indiana in 1999, where it played four seasons as the Dubois County Dragons. Relocating to Wisconsin in 2003, the franchise played a single season as the Kenosha Mammoths. Then, the club was off to Ozark, Missouri, where it contested the 2004 season as the Springfield-Ozark Ducks. Finally, in 2005, the team returned to its roots - at least in terms of branding - and played a barnstorming season as the Ohio Valley Redcoats, splitting "home" games between the Ohio cities of Lorain and Marietta, as well as Lafayette, Indiana. At the completion of the 2005 campaign - after 13 seasons, played in seven host communities across five states, under four different team names - the franchise called it quits.      

Sure, the Atlantic League and American Association averaged, respectively, attendance of 3,478 and 3,082 fans per game in 2019. That would have made the Atlantic League the seventh-best drawing circuit in affiliated minor-league baseball, with the American Association the tenth-best drawing affiliated league. Conversely, the Frontier League averaged just 2,266 per game, while the Can-Am League pulled in an average of 1,986 per contest. As such, the only affiliated minor-pro baseball circuits that the Frontier and Can-Am Leagues bested in average attendance in 2019 were the Appalachian and Florida State Leagues. 

Yes, the St. Paul Saints' average of 8,061 fans-per-home game in American Association play would have ranked 8th amongst affiliated Triple A attendance in 2019. However, the Sioux City Explorers' 1,075 average home game attendance in the American Association would have ranked 25th out of 30 affiliated High A teams, 29th out of 30 Low A teams, 13th out of 18 Rookie classification ball clubs, and dead last amongst affiliated minor-pro baseball's 22 Short Season A teams.

Bottom line? The notion that the contraction of teams in affiliated minor pro baseball is going to prove a guaranteed boon to both the abandoned markets and the independent minor-league baseball circuits that opt to place franchises in said communities is a fallacy. There's simply no reason to believe that fans in markets that failed to support affiliated minor pro baseball are suddenly going to turn out in droves to watch the independent variety of the game. Likewise, if team owners couldn't make a go of it operating a franchise in an affiliated minor league with subsidization from a Major League Baseball parent club to help them meet their bottom-line, the likelihood that they're going to be able to offer patrons a compelling product while paying all operating costs themselves seems highly unlikely.                         

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10 hours ago, DG_Now said:

 

People love The Natural and Bull Durham. An enterprising team could sell that entire experience.

 

I'm reminded of the independent-league Lake County Fielders, who tried to get a stadium built, couldn't, and ended up having to rent portable bleachers. They sold it as "baseball meets the county fair." It was a good tagline (wasn't mine, don't blame me), because people like baseball, and people like the county fair. What people don't like are port-a-potties in mud pits and having to invent teams to play against because no one will do business with you. I know that case was an unprecedented lack of service, but I'd agree with infrared upthread that you can get about one year out of "it's rustic" before people ask what exactly it is they're paying for.

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9 hours ago, Brian in Boston said:

Yes, the St. Paul Saints' average of 8,061 fans-per-home game in American Association play would have ranked 8th amongst affiliated Triple A attendance in 2019. However, by the same token, the Sioux City Explorers' 1,075 average home game attendance in the American Association would have ranked 25th out of 30 affiliated High A teams, 29th out of 30 Low A teams, 13th out of 18 Rookie classification ball clubs, and dead last amongst affiliated minor-pro baseball's 22 Short Season A teams.

Bottom line? The notion that the contraction of teams in affiliated minor pro baseball is going to prove a guaranteed boon to both the abandoned markets and the independent minor-league baseball circuits that opt to place franchises in said communities is a fallacy. There's simply no reason to believe that fans in markets that failed to support affiliated minor pro baseball are suddenly going to turn out in droves to watch the independent variety of the game. Likewise, if team owners couldn't make a go of it operating a franchise in an affiliated minor league with subsidization from a Major League Baseball parent club, the likelihood that they're going to be able to offer patrons a compelling product while paying all operating costs themselves seems highly unlikely.      

 

This is all very convincing.  Of course, there has been no suggestion that fans will turn out "in droves".  The idea that I was running with was essentially that attendance of a few thousand would be enough to make most independent teams viable, and that, with the folding of affilliated teams, there would be many small cities where the opportunity to draw crowds like that would present itself.

But you are asserting that the combination of dozens of such cities and several hundred newly out-of-work players will have absolutely no effect on the landscape of independent baseball.  Is it not likely that market forces will result in some leagues trying to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime event?  Now, whether any new initiatives will be successful in the long term is another question entirely; I can certainly see that my use of the word "boon" was a bit hyperbolic because that implies some kind of guaranteed return.  But entirely dismissing any possibility of positive impact on independent leagues might also be extreme.

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15 hours ago, rams80 said:

"Upgrades" is kind of a bull :censored: handwavy excuse anyway since the majors have never gone on the record as to saying what specifically it is they want from facilities at any point in this cycle.

 

Kind of like saying you'll solve a huge budget hole by "cutting waste and fraud".

 

By nature, Minor League teams operate on the fringe of profitability, and there isn't a single Minor League team in existence that isn't in danger of having this claim applied to them.

 

I'm dumbfounded by how desperate MLB is to get out of a simple cost of living increase. They are going to be hit with a mountain of lawsuits at the local, state, and federal levels if they even try to implement this plan, and that's just going to be the start of their problems. If Congress decides to get involved, that will open up a whole new set of PR and legal issues I don't think they're prepared to deal with.

 

If I'm MILB, I'm holding firm here. If MLB wants to jump all those legal and PR hoops to get out of paying people a decent wage, they can go for it and see what happens.

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2 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

But you are asserting that the combination of dozens of such cities and several hundred newly out-of-work players will have absolutely no effect on the landscape of independent baseball.  Is it not likely that market forces will result in some leagues trying to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime event?

 

1. My guess is those out of work players won't result in more teams. The better players will land with other affiliated teams. The rest will likely cost a lot of independent league players their jobs. For example, if our Lake Erie Crushers have a choice between the SS who played a year of short season A ball or a SS who played three years of double A ball, they're going with the double A player. The short season A player better hope there is an independent team out there with a SS worse than he is or he's out of baseball. Long story short, I think the best the independent leagues could hope for out of several hundred out of work players is an across the board increase in the quality of independent league play. 

 

2. I have to think that there aren't that many rich people out there who are waiting around for the chance to start an independent baseball team. But I could be wrong. 

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18 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

This is why I imagined that the staff of an independent league team would tend to be much smaller than that of an affiliated team. But if you with your experience say that that's not the case, then I will accept that my assumption was wrong.

 

I will clarify here that in my posts referring to front offices, I was referring to the "upper crusts" of independent baseball - American Association, Atlantic League, and Frontier League. Those are the types of clubs that tend to be closer in organizational structure to the affiliated teams. My experience in affiliated baseball is that there are a few more instances of people wearing fewer hats (e.g., affiliated ball having a dedicated team photographer and graphic designer vs. independent ball having the media relations coordinator take photos, run the social media accounts, create graphics, oversee the press box, write game notes, and send stat packs to the league/other teams). You could probably have most teams jump from any of those 4 leagues to affiliated ball and they'd probably only need to add 4 or 5 full-time positions.

 

The lower level circuits - Empire League, Pacific Association, Pecos League, and whatever the United Shore Baseball League is - those are the types of places where the front office probably consists of 4 people doing everything. Those are also the types of places where the players make $500 a month if they're lucky and 300 paid attendees is a good crowd. And I've never been to one of those games, but I'd imagine the fan experience is similar to an NCAA D3/D2/low D1 game, Juco, collegiate wood bat league, or even high school. Which is fine, there's some kind of room for that - but it's like comparing the overall atmosphere at a comparatively big-budget AAA team to an Appalachian or Pioneer league experience. There's a wide spectrum in independent ball, and I could've done a better job fleshing out those differences.

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43 minutes ago, pmoehrin said:

I'm dumbfounded by how desperate MLB is to get out of a simple cost of living increase. They are going to be hit with a mountain of lawsuits at the local, state, and federal levels if they even try to implement this plan, and that's just going to be the start of their problems. If Congress decides to get involved, that will open up a whole new set of PR and legal problems.

 

If I'm MILB, I'm holding firm here. If MLB wants to go jump all those legal and PR hoops to get out of paying people a decent wage, they can go for it and see what happens.

 

It's worth mentioning again that a great deal of fault lies with the MLBPA.  The union could have demanded salary minimums and staffing minimums for each level of the minors, so that the owners could not contract teams unilaterally.  Of course, that probably couldn't have been accomplished without a concession on some other issue on the part of the players. 

The MLBPA has had a history of sticking together to help its younger members; for instance, older players have always been strong supporters of strikes even when they themselves did not stand to benefit from the potential gains.  But minor leaguers aren't members.  The great Marvin Miller thought about making them members; but he never pursued this because he thought that young players who are doing everything they could to please their orginanisations could not be counted on to have solitarity against the owners. 

Still, it is a union's responsibility to look out for the interests of workers as a class; this is especially true for a union that is as powerful as the MLBPA, which has a degree of clout that few other unions possess.


 

27 minutes ago, infrared41 said:

My guess is those out of work players won't result in more teams. The better players will land with other affiliated teams. The rest will likely cost a lot of independent league players their jobs. For example, if our Lake Erie Crushers have a choice between the SS who played a year of short season A ball or a SS who played three years of double A ball, they're going with the double A player. The short season A player better hope there is an independent team out there with a SS worse than he is or he's out of baseball. Long story short, I think the best the independent leagues could hope for out of several hundred out of work players is an across the board increase in the quality of independent league play. 

 

This is a very good point.

 

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