In Whatever Condition, Minor League Baseball is Back

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Hi friends. Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, May 5. There hadn’t been a minor league baseball game since September of 2019. Now, though diminished and deformed, like the prodigal son of old, minor league baseball is back.

40 teams are gone, and they’ll be missed. The players will miss out on opportunities, and youngpeople will miss chances to sell tickets, concessions and the like. Deserving young men and women won’t get to be general managers, lesser executives and broadcasters in cities that have had baseball going back to the early years of the 20th century. That said, in 120 cities, baseball is back.

In one town, AAA ball temporarily replacesad AA teamwhose ownership moved out to grab a quick buck. For now, the Blue Jays’ AAA side, the Buffalo Bisons will play in Trenton, former home of the Trenton Thunder. When the Herd, as it is called, moves out, Trenton is supposed to host a league for draft hopefuls. That could end up happening in 2022 if the Blue Jays continue to be locked out of playing in Canada during 2021.

The St. Paul Saints were a AAA team in the 1950’s and are again after a couple of decades of success as an independent team. The Saints were thumped 8–2 last night by Omaha in their first AAA game since the Eisenhower administration. Brooklyn was the Mets’ entry in the now defunct New York Penn League, a short season class A team. Now, they are considered High A, and as suchthey beat Asheville in their first game. Somebody had to make a long bus ride for that series to happen.

Instead of the common 3- or 4-game series that were the rule in the minors, for 2021 at least, teams will meet for 6 games in a row from Tuesday through Sunday. Monday will be a universal off day in the minors, either to facilitate travel or to fit in games washed out by bad weather. Starting a month late as they have will improve weather conditions for early games in the Midwest and Great Lakes region. To partly make up for the late start, the minor league season wraps up in mid-September instead of the traditional Labor Day conclusion. Especially if a minor league team is hoping to make the playoffs, the late finish could limit players being called up to the big leagues as has been traditional.r

For all that is different, the game remains the same. Lynchburg demolished Frederick 16–3, and the Wilmington Blue Rocks lost 10–1 to Aberdeen. Meantime, two games went extra innings, one ending in 12, one in 11. Gone are the good old 20-, 21- or even 33-inning games of the past since 2018 when the minors first started placing a runner on second to start every half inning of extra inning play. I’m waiting for the day when, in some minor league or major league game, the teams keep trading runs from the 10th until at least the 16th inning. If and when that happens, I want to hear how the “free cookie” rule speeds up the games.

For all the changes good and bad, welcome back minor league baseball. However many people are allowed into the parks by state and local regulations will be glad to be able to watch the game again.

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