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MLB lowers the boom
What of Cape Cod League?
Good morning all. Hope you are having a great week.
When I was growing up - long before we had 24/7 news channels - there used to be a week-in-review news program on Saturdays entitled “This is the week that was.” Well, we may come back to look at this week as the “week that was” for minor league baseball. As I wrote in the previous newsletter, MLB, which took over complete operations of the minor leagues this fall, would start revealing its intentions for the minor league’s future. And those intentions are trickling out.
On Monday, MLB announced its Draft League, an amateur league to be run in conjunction with Prep Baseball Report. In a nutshell, the league will have five clubs - maybe six - in cities losing their affiliation with MLB clubs. This is the start. MLB will also forge relationships with other independent leagues, consisting of amateur players.
The Draft League will have a 68-game season, running from mid-May to mid-August, split in half. The first-half will be played before the amateur draft of players into organized ball and the second-half after the draft. The draft, by the way, will move from mid-June to the All-Star break.
Make no mistake about it, MLB will try to convince the top amateur players they should play in the Draft League, if they hope to get drafted. Which leads to me to ask what about the Cape Cod League? For decades, the CCL has been considered the top, summer amateur baseball league in the country. Now what?
Although MLB funnels some money to the CCL, you can be sure this proud baseball league will now be facing head winds. Many Hall of Fame players began their careers on the Cape, too numerous to mention in this space, I might add. Suffice it to say, that could change. In fact, in the Boston Globe story about MLB’s Draft League on Tuesday, the first comment in the comment section was:
“What happens to the Cape Cod League?”
The second comment was:
“They could give a care about The Cape League. This stinks.”
Here is the bottom line. MLB, under this commissioner, wants control of all of baseball, from the majors, through the minors, through the pipeline that feeds the talent to the majors.
From an MLB owners standpoint, I get it. If you are investing millions of dollars in talent, you want more of a say in that talent’s journey to the big leagues. However, the optics, in this case, do not look good for MLB. How, for example, will the Cape Cod League be able to compete with the resources MLB will plow into the Draft League? It cannot. It will take time, of course, for all of this to shake out, but it would seem to me MLB will need a massive public relations campaign to justify what will be viewed as a major power grab for all aspects of the game.
Affiliate merry-go-round continues
The reorganization of minor league affiliates continues with Wichita, KS being shifted to AA. More than likely, Wichita will be affiliated with the Minnesota Twins, who will also make nearby St. Paul, MN home to their AAA affiliate.
Sadly, Wichita becomes the AAA city that never was. It was supposed to host a AAA franchise last season, after the club moved from New Orleans. But, as you know, there was no 2020 for minor league baseball. Now Wichita will return to AA, denied the opportunity to ever host a AAA club. (Sadly, Lew Schwechheimer, long affiliated with the Pawtucket Red Sox, before becoming part of a group which purchased New Orleans and moved the club to Wichita, died over the summer from Covid-19. I remember Lew back in the 1980s being very helpful to me, when I was broadcasting Richmond Braves games, and we would head into town to play the Pawsox.)
NFL loses out to Christmas
No, you will not be seeing things this afternoon, if you tune to your local NBC affiliate. That will be an NFL game on your screen. The Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game, already postponed three times because of Covid-19, will kick-off at 3:30 this afternoon, with the game carried by NBC. Originally slated for Thanksgiving night, the contest was booted out of primetime tonight, as the network opted to carry The 88th Annual Christmas In Rockefeller Center special.
The NFL is a ratings winner, so that annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree event must be a winner too. Meanwhile, you can be sure the NFL is taking note, particularly since ABC is making major bid to once again televise NFL games on a regular basis, including the Super Bowl.
Well, that’s it for today. As always, thank you for your support and have a great day.