johnnysama

Why Hasn't There Been A Good Alternative Baseball League to MLB?

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You know, you hear about new, alternative sports leagues trying to challenge the NFL (AAF, WFL, XFL, USFL, et al.), the NBA (ABA), the NHL (WHA), but not one league has cropped up to challenge MLB (the independent minor leagues notwithstanding).

 

So, it had me thinking- why has there been NO alternative baseball league like what the other three leagues have gone through? Post your answers in the comments, but keep the discussion civil.

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On another note, I can figure out why the CFL has not had a serious alternative league in Canada. I think it is because Canadian football, being largely confined to Canada, only works there, and an alternative league would likely last only one week, or not even play at all.

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Um, because they have the minors, any “alternate baseball league” wouldn’t be able to get players when all said players have already signed contracts for minor league teams that is currently the only way to get to the majors.

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Half of MLB was formerly an "alternative baseball league". The American League is the most successful alternative league ever. It just happened to start 108 years ago.

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5 minutes ago, burgundy said:

Half of MLB was formerly an "alternative baseball league". The American League is the most successful alternative league ever. It just happened to start 108 years ago.

Same with football, actually. The most successful rival league to the NFL became an entire conference within it.

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1 hour ago, Ice_Cap said:

Same with football, actually. The most successful rival league to the NFL became an entire conference within it.

 

Same with basketball with the NBA-ABA merger and hockey with the NHL-WHA merger. Maybe what MLS needs to ascend in North American sports is to find a rival league to merge with.

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3 minutes ago, Red Wolf said:

 

Same with the basketball with the NBA-ABA merger and hockey with the NHL-WHA merger. Maybe what MLS needs to ascend in North American sports is to find a rival league to merge with.

The NASL 2.0 tried so hard but in the end? It didn't really matter.

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1 hour ago, burgundy said:

Half of MLB was formerly an "alternative baseball league". The American League is the most successful alternative league ever. It just happened to start 108 years ago.

 

It's funny how the National league might possibly just adopt something (DH) from a formerly-known "alternative league".

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Because major league baseball has been granted an exemption for the anti-trust act. They therefore can't get in trouble for unfair market practices. It also allowed MLB to sign a deal with NAPBL and basically Control baseball in this country. The independent leagues can exist, after all, but will never be able to crack MLB the way the other three major leagues faced a competitor. 

 

There were other major leagues, just only one survived the entire time (nl) while the others came and went. Turning the American League from a minor league to a major league solidified it when the NAPBL deal was signed in 1902. It's basically impossible for one of the minors to jump as the NAPBL deal was not just to help the major leagues but to also save the minors since the payroll costs were slowly killing them. In affiliated ball, the parent club pays that cost in exchange for developing young players.

 

Thr fact no league showed up during the 50s and 60s with the mass migration, tells you there was no shot at a third major league. 

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3 hours ago, johnnysama said:

You know, you hear about new, alternative sports leagues trying to challenge the NFL (AAF, WFL, XFL, USFL, et al.), the NBA (ABA), the NHL (WHA), but not one league has cropped up to challenge MLB (the independent minor leagues notwithstanding).

 

So, it had me thinking- why has there been NO alternative baseball league like what the other three leagues have gone through? Post your answers in the comments, but keep the discussion civil.

 

An alternative baseball league would not work these days because that league would have to find places to put the teams in.  Let's say that this league is formed and announces teams in the following cities: Nashville, Louisville, Memphis, New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.  The problem is that all of those cities already have minor league teams that are affiliated with MLB teams so you have to find cities who want a baseball team with no minor league affiliation and those cities may be too small for a baseball league that wants to rival MLB. 

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5 hours ago, dont care said:

Um, because they have the minors, any “alternate baseball league” wouldn’t be able to get players when all said players have already signed contracts for minor league teams that is currently the only way to get to the majors.

 

Right. All the baseball talent is locked up by Major League organisations to a degree far greater than the talent in the other sports is locked up by those sports' dominant leagues. 

 

Only so many NFL jobs exist; for all but the league's top superstar players, there are dozens to hundreds of unsigned players who could do those jobs equally well. Whereas, the only Major League prospect-calibre baseball players who are not already working for a Major League organisation are those who have chosen not to pursue baseball as a career.

 

 

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There are "alternative" baseball leagues. We know them as the "independent leagues" like the Frontier League, Northern League, etc. If you're not counting those leagues then here's what would have to happen to start another alternative league. 

 

First, you need to find around 2500 players who are good enough to play professionally at at least AAA level and who aren’t already signed by MLB or MiLB. Do that, and we can talk about the second step. B)

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As mentioned, the AL was one of those “alternative leagues”.  

 

There was another, though; back in the days when the MLB map stopped at St. Louis, the Pacific Coast League built themselves up into a majors-worthy circuit. They paid competitive wages, and many players from the west coast turned down MLB contracts to stay home and play with PCL clubs.

 

In the late 40s and early 50s, it was reported that the PCL might make it official and declare themselves a third major league.  But the twin relocations from New York City to California in 1958 robbed the PCL of its two strongest markets and killed that plan.  

 

Who knows?  If things had worked out differently, we might today have the San Francisco Seals, Portland Beavers, and Seattle Rainiers in the majors.  Or even the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. 😛 

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It seems like only yesterday that C. Montgomery Burns wanted to scour the Federal League for ringers.

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I know that the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball pitched itself as a "alternate" major league when the moved in to my home town of Waldorf, MD. But from what I can tell its like a independent league in between AA and AAA level ball that plays in the burbs. And now with MLB using that league for rule testing it just seems to be the unaffiliated minor league in the system.  

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10 hours ago, Sykotyk said:

Because major league baseball has been granted an exemption for the anti-trust act. They therefore can't get in trouble for unfair market practices. It also allowed MLB to sign a deal with NAPBL and basically Control baseball in this country. The independent leagues can exist, after all, but will never be able to crack MLB the way the other three major leagues faced a competitor. 

 

There were other major leagues, just only one survived the entire time (nl) while the others came and went. Turning the American League from a minor league to a major league solidified it when the NAPBL deal was signed in 1902. It's basically impossible for one of the minors to jump as the NAPBL deal was not just to help the major leagues but to also save the minors since the payroll costs were slowly killing them. In affiliated ball, the parent club pays that cost in exchange for developing young players.

 

Thr fact no league showed up during the 50s and 60s with the mass migration, tells you there was no shot at a third major league. 

and at this point in time, i am surprise that it has not been overturned.

 

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Forget anti-trust. No start-up could ever guarantee $500M contracts over 10+years.  Even if they had stupid money, no player would sign that long with a team that isn’t likely to survive more than a couple of seasons.  There will never be an “alternate league” to MLB.  Ever. 

 

 

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Every non-in-the-know baseball fan would call it minor league as it is

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3 hours ago, Gothamite said:

As mentioned, the AL was one of those “alternative leagues”.  

 

There was another, though; back in the days when the MLB map stopped at St. Louis, the Pacific Coast League built themselves up into a majors-worthy circuit. They paid competitive wages, and many players from the west coast turned down MLB contracts to stay home and play with PCL clubs.

 

In the late 40s and early 50s, it was reported that the PCL might make it official and declare themselves a third major league.  But the twin relocations from New York City to California in 1958 robbed the PCL of its two strongest markets and killed that plan.  

 

Who knows?  If things had worked out differently, we might today have the San Francisco Seals, Portland Beavers, and Seattle Rainiers in the majors.  Or even the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. 😛 

On that note, during the 1950s, the PCL gained the "Open" classification, and as such, is the only minor league to get that distinction.

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15 hours ago, johnnysama said:

So, it had me thinking- why has there been NO alternative baseball league like what the other three leagues have gone through? Post your answers in the comments, but keep the discussion civil.

 

American League, Federal League, Negro Leagues, and the PCL have all featured Major League, sometimes even Hall of Fame level talent.

 

There just hasn't been a league to challenge the MLB since Branch Rickey's Continental League in which was supposed to launch in the early-60's but never got off the ground.

 

Even though it never got started, Rickey's gameplan made a ton of sense for the time because he recognized MLB's financial model wasn't just falling behind, it had slipped back.

 

One of the reasons I think baseball fell behind the NFL was because they were so stingy about expansion and exploring new markets. The league was still only operating in 10 cities as late as 1952. I can understand why it took so long to get out to places like San Francisco and Los Angeles. But the MLB could have expanded to Toronto, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Buffalo, and Baltimore as early as the 1920s.

 

The fact that no MLB team has gone under since 1901 is proof they could have expanded to more cities at any point, before the first '61 expansion.

 

The AFL/NFL either beat or tied MLB with bringing franchises to Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay.

 

People frequently talk down about expansion, but it's the only way you can grow your league. If you don't take a city seriously when they are ready to be taken as a city capable of supporting a significant franchise, they will find another league that does. And you will be behind and trying to attract new fans, while the more established team has had potentially a 20+ year head start.

 

Today, the same dynamics don't exist anymore. To seriously compete with Major League Baseball you would need at least $8-10 billion to start with, and that's assuming we're only running a six-team league.


Looking at alternatives going family-friendly because you already have hundreds of Minor-League teams to serve that function. I don't think rules changes or a different presentation style alone would be enough to attract a younger audience that MLB isn't currently hitting. You could play playoff games earlier, but again I would look at them as ancillary issues and not something you can build a league around.

 

The only thing I think you could do with regards to creating an alternative to the MLB would be to start up a Women's league. The fact that nobody has attempted to do so since Phillip Wrigley is surprising to me. I know how many female writers I've run into who got into covering in large part because of A League of Their Own and have met more than one softball player who would prefer to be playing baseball. I saw the amount of buzz and interest generated by Mo'ne Davis. There was enough interest in the idea of a woman playing in the Majors to get a primetime network show green light.

 

I see a demand here for a product that nobody is providing. I see way more room for potential growth there than another football league, or a three on three basketball league.

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