There are now 129 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day 2020. With the BBWAA awards for the 2019 season in the rear view mirror, the reality sets in that there will not be much new to say about this team between now and when they start reporting for spring training in slightly less than three months.
With no significant roster additions on the horizon, there are other things to wonder about. Over the weekend, the New York Times posted a list of minor league teams that could be eliminated under MLB’s proposal for reorganizing the minor leagues. This is following last month’s Baseball America reporting on that proposal, which mentioned a possible 42 teams on the chopping block but did not name the teams.
Two Maryland teams, one of which is an Orioles affiliate, have a future at risk if MLB follows through on this plan. The High-A Frederick Keys could be squeezed out. Farther west in Maryland, the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, currently a Nationals affiliate, also find themselves potentially on the chopping block.
Most of the list of teams slotted for elimination are in short-season leagues. That’s not terribly surprising considering one component of the proposal is that the MLB draft would be moved to August, effectively destroying the necessity of those leagues existing at all.
However, the Aberdeen IronBirds are not on the list, despite the fact that many of the other teams in their New York-Penn League could get wiped out. They could continue as an Orioles affiliate if they pick up the Carolina League affiliation of the Frederick Keys, or they could end up in the same league as Delmarva, with MLB reported to be considering a six-team Mid-Atlantic League.
As someone who has, for the past several years, regularly been checking minor league box scores while running this website, I find the idea that there are more minor league teams than really need to exist to be a reasonable one.
There are a lot of players, especially low in the minors, who will never sniff MLB, or maybe even Double-A. I’m talking about players who you can’t even really call prospects because no team has any hope for them other than that they will fill out a lineup so that baseball games can be played where the real prospects do things. There will still be a lot of players in this category even if MLB eliminates 42 minor league teams, as it proposes.
Going to minor league baseball games was not part of my childhood. Memorial Stadium and eventually Camden Yards were both closer to me than any minor league team. As a result, I don’t feel romantic about the minors. But I know there are a lot of people who do, and while I can see the practical argument MLB is making, this proposal stinks for a lot of places.
As the rookie-level short-season Appalachian League is squeezed out, six teams will get taken out in Tennessee. Four teams will get wiped out from New York, largely due to the NYPL’s consolidation. Three are on the chopping block in Pennsylvania and Montana, among other states taking a hit.
That’s a lot of people who have the choice to occasionally go see a minor league game that, depending on the status of the home team and visiting team’s parent organizations, could have some interesting players. That should be worth more to MLB than the bare practical concerns at play here, and it’s a bummer that it seems like they aren’t.
The league could choose to help solve some of the logistical concerns it claims are driving the proposal, if it cared to do that, and it seems to be choosing the easy way out where only these 42 minor league communities will bear the pain of it.
Does this proposal make you feel strongly about it either way? Drop down in the comments below and let us know what you think.
Around the blogO’sphere
How Elias has transformed the Orioles in his first year (Orioles.com)
There’s been angst in some quarters about people the Orioles have let go since Mike Elias took over. O’s beat writer Joe Trezza rounds up the additions as well as the departures.
Elias talks GM meetings, trade talks, and Astros controversies (Baltimore Sun)
Each subsequent story about the whole Astros electronic sign stealing affair leaves me hoping that Elias’s name doesn’t come up. He addressed it as much as he said he was able last week:
Elias on MLB investigation into Astros electronically stealing signs: “The fact that there’s apparently an investigation ongoing prohibits me from making any type of public comment about it. I was almost exclusively focused on the amateur scouting and the minor leagues.” #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) November 15, 2019
Hopefully MLB’s investigation doesn’t decide that Elias was involved in other things than that.
Wilkerson on odd 2019 season and what lies ahead (School of Roch)
Dr. Poo Poo’s cap and a baseball from the night he became the first position player to record a save now reside in Cooperstown, which is pretty amazing if you ask me.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 1954, the Orioles and Yankees concluded a gigantic 17-player trade. Among the players sent to New York was pitcher Don Larsen, best known for pitching a perfect game in the World Series in 1956. One of the players joining the Orioles was catcher Gus Triandos, Herc from The Wire’s favorite Oriole.
In 1964, Brooks Robinson was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. The second place finisher was Mickey Mantle, who batted .303/.423/.591 that year, so you know the voters were impressed by Brooks.
Two former Orioles were born on this day. MLB’s all-time home runs allowed leader Jamie Moyer turns 56. He gave up 52 of his 522 career home runs while pitching for the 1993-95 Orioles. Today would have been the 40th birthday of pitcher Steve Bechler, who passed away during spring training in 2003, with the since-banned weight loss supplement ephedra ruled a significant factor.
If today is your birthday, you have some of the following birthday buddies: early photographer Louis Daguerre (1787), Gallup poll inventor George Gallup (1901), first American in space Alan Shepard (1923), novelist Margaret Atwood (1939), illustrator Alan Moore (1953), Maryland basketball star Len Bias (1963), actor Owen Wilson (1968), and gold medal sprinter Allyson Felix (1985).
On this day in history...
In 1872, a group of 15 women including Susan B. Anthony were arrested after having voted in the presidential election earlier in the month.
In 1883, North America was divided up into five time zones, with the change being necessary due to both American and Canadian railroads crossing the whole continent.
In 1916, during what we now know as World War I, the British Army halted an advance, effectively ending the First (at that time, only) Battle of the Somme after 140 days. The Allies made small gains of territory compared to when the battle started in July. Between both sides, more than a million men were wounded or killed.
In 1928, the animated short film Steamboat Willie was released. The film is noteworthy for being the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, and also because the cartoon is recognized as the debut of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
In 1978, the cult leader Jim Jones led a mass murder-suicide of his Peoples Temple followers in Jonestown, Guyana, with 918 people killed overall, including more than 300 children. California’s U.S. Representative Leo Ryan, part of a delegation investigating Jones’s commune, was killed earlier in the day when cultists shot up his plane as it sat on the runway to leave.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on November 18 - or at least, unless something happens later. Have a safe Monday.