Yankees fans – get ready. The Evil Empire is set to be bludgeoned by MLB’s plan to “reorganize” the minor leagues. As always, Goliath rarely wins.
The Yankees are portrayed as the Evil Empire – blah-blah-blah. The inference is they always win by crushing teams beneath them and Major League Baseball.
As though, the signing of Gerrit Cole occurs every day, instead of once a decade when, in 2008, then Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, decided enough is enough.
And the outpouring of money into the signing CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeria to lengthy and expensive contracts – propelled the Yankees to a World Champions in 2009.
Yankees in a vacuum – maybe
Oh, if it weren’t so easy. Major League Baseball (MLB) keeps a watchful eye on these things, though, and if they had their way, there would come a day when MLB resembles the NBA where half the teams in the league make the playoffs – and half of those have .500 or under season records.
And so it is that MLB and specifically Commissioner Rob Manfred have drawn up a plan to “reorganize” baseball’s minor leagues.
For more details, reference an article I wrote earlier today. If you do, you’ll find the jury still to be out with its verdict as to the overall impact on our National Pastime.
But there is one element of the proposal that mainly affects the Yankees, and it deserves not only exposure but a discussion.
Manfred seeks to “downsize” the number of minor league teams, just as any business entity does when times get tough. With revenues of $9.8 Billion in 2019, MLB, in theory, would have a difficult time proving the need to do so in any court, judicial, public, or otherwise.
But let’s leave that for another day.
Yankees cut in half by MLB
To the salient point, we find the Yankees, who have eight (8) minor league affiliates, about to be reduced to four (4), the limit any major league team can support if the proposal is approved and effective in 2021.
Of immediate interest to the Yankees, though, is the proposed elimination of the Short-Season Class-A team in Staten Island, which is a hop skip and a jump from Yankee Stadium.
Responding, the Yankees sent out their version of Rudy Giuliani, Randy Levine, to defend their position.
Levine fired a shot over the bow, declaring that he was not pleased by the inclusion of the Staten Island Yankees farm team, which is part-owned by the parent club as one of the teams MLB has scheduled for elimination.
In theory and American business practice, it should concern no one, and indeed not a governing body like MLB how many franchises McDonald’s owns or operates.
BUT, we are then reminded antitrust exemption, first granted by an appeals court in 1922 and later unanimously affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court then held that MLB is exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act because it was a state-centric business and not subject to federal commerce laws.
Randy, save your breath
Ultimately, Levine might as well save his breath because Manfred and MLB’s proposal will go through, as assuredly as the impeachment of Donald Trump meandered through the House of Representatives.
The Yankees have weight, however, and there is a distinct chance their Staten Island team will be absorbed as a team in another league.
Understand, nothing is settled and firmly written into “law” by MLB, the MiLB, or the Major League Player’s Association, which is watching closely as their contract with the owners is soon to expire.
But if you are the owner of a team or a fan who has religiously become attached to a team, this is a big deal and one that affects your daily life for six months a year.
Yankees – Scream and holler – but move on
Change comes in many forms, and it is never easy to implement.
To cherry-pick, there were winners and losers when President Lyndon Johnson decided Viet Nam was worthy of America’s devotion in spite of his generals telling him otherwise.
And it is likely Yankees fans are left with the same outcome here – which says raise all the hell you want to – but I (MLB) am the decider.
This is undoubtedly an MLB development to be continued and one we need to keep our eyes peeled on…Stand by for future updates.
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