Major League Baseball update
Before I get into the bulk of this article, I would like to provide a quick update on professional baseball for those of you whom that interests. As I have written about a few times, the MLB owners and MLBPA have been in discussions about playing the 2020 season. The talks mostly focused on the number of games that would be played (players generally wanted more games) and pay (players wanted full proration, owners maxed at 80% proration). Over this past week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was very confident that there would be a 2020 season, citing a late March agreement that allowed the league to unilaterally make a season of any duration. Over the weekend, the players said that they were done negotiating, requesting Manfred to tell them when to report, and how many games he intended to play. Monday night, Manfred said he was “not confident” when asked how he felt the odds of a 2020 season were. Needless to say, I am also “not confident” that the MLB, much less the Birmingham Barons, will take the field in 2020.
How are players and teams handling the shutdown?
Minor league teams rely so heavily on game day revenue (ticket sales, merchandise sales, and concessions) that they are really struggling to stay afloat during this time. I’ve already reported how important it is for a MiLB season to happen in front of fans, due to this fact. Minor League Baseball will not play this season. That’s pretty much set in stone. MLB owners aren’t going to want their minor league affiliates to play when their money maker can’t.
Players who don’t have a voice in the MLBPA are tired of not being told what’s happening. CJ Alexander, Jr., a third baseman in the Atlanta Braves organization took to Twitter to express his displeasure on Monday afternoon, saying, “So is anyone going to nut up & tell us if we are playing this year or not? We need answers, specially us minor league players. We’ve been in limbo far too long. A lot of us are working our a** off for nothing in 2020. No hope. A lot of us need this year or whatever we can get.”
Minor League teams have had to get creative to make some money. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Southern League rivals of the Barons, have begun to rent out their ballpark on Airbnb. For $1500 per night, the stadium can be rented out, with access to the batting cage, field, clubhouse, and room to sleep 10 in the stadium. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp have been hosting tons of events at their stadium, from trivia nights to batting practice, and even drive-in movies on the field. Many other teams across the ranks of minor league baseball are having to get creative to make enough money, but every team is ready to return to play whenever they get the call to start playing again.