As a baseball fan, perhaps the worst thing about the 2020 season, even beyond any rule changes that I may or may not have liked, or the lack of fans, or the just lackluster season as a whole, was the total lack of minor league baseball. The minors is right up there with my favorite thing about baseball. I love going to games. I love writing the daily recaps here. I love following prospects through a system. Granted, I don’t love that the players get paid less than minimum wage and I don’t love that Rob Manfred et. al. seem hellbent on destroying the institution. But there’s something special about minor league baseball that you don’t get at a major-league park.
So not having that last year was rough. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like that will happen for a second year in a row. At least, that’s not the plan. Again, MLB seems hellbent on destroying the institution of minor league baseball so there are some changes this year, but the games are now scheduled. Teams released their schedules on Thursday. Here are the schedules:
The highlights here are:
- Triple-A seasons will start on April 6. The other three full-season levels will begin on May 4.
- Double-A and the two A-Ball levels will have their camp after the big-league camp is done, which is why their season is starting late.
- At all levels, teams will play six-game series every week, with Monday being an off-day/travel day every week.
I’ve seen some complaints about the six-game series, and there may be a modest affect on fan interest with long series, but ultimately I don’t think most people go to minor-league games based on opponent, so I don’t foresee a major issue there. All in all I think this particular change is good, and probably the only good change that has been brought about to the minors over the last year. It should reduce travel and give players more consistent days off.
Now, here’s the part where we have to throw a little bit of cold water on all of this. There’s still no guarantee that these seasons will happen. I’m sure hoping they will, and the fact that they have schedules and teams are clearing planning on a season is good. That said, J.J. Cooper over at Baseball America rightfully points out that minor-league economics are different from that of the majors. There is no massive TV deal on which to fall back, which means that a lack of fans is much more difficult to swallow. In fact, Cooper points out that for many teams have limited fans will actually be more financially detrimental than having no fans. Hopefully there will be some way to make this work — if only there were a multi-billion dollar corporation that served as a parent company that could float some cash to stay afloat — because I really can’t do another season without minor league ball.