ghostrunner wrote:I don't think it's coincidence that this comes up as more attention is being drawn to minor league salaries, which are pitiful.
Apparently minor league baseball is actually making money, though I'm sure that would be affected if salaries went up.
I'd be ok with independent teams, but it seems like you need some sort of formal league with cost and revenue sharing because you're going to have places where teams aren't doing as well or attendance is lower, but you probably need some of those teams to help fill out a schedule.
I have been following minor league hockey for years and those are all independent leagues that also try to be developmental in many ways. Some observations:
- Competitive balance can be a problem. The teams raking in money tend to field better teams year after year compared to the ones losing money or barely breaking even. But that happens at almost every level of every sport.
- They contain costs and also keep some semblance of competitive balance by limiting the number of veteran players a team can have. A veteran is usually someone who has played more than "X" number of games in other recognized professional leagues (here and overseas). In hockey the number is usually only 3 or 4 veterans per team. In baseball it could be maybe 4 to 6 (you could also just say no more than 3 position players and 3 pitchers can be vets or something).
- Sometimes they also require teams to carry "X" number of rookies (players with less than some number of games), and may also limit the number of tweeners (players that are no longer rookies but not veterans).
- They have a weekly or monthly salary cap they have to stay under. Salaries are fixed (vets get paid X, tweeners make Y, and rookies make Z). So there are no bidding wars. At least not officially.
- If baseball eliminated all affiliated minor leagues, they may want to still send a guy somewhere for rehab or development once in a while. In hockey when a player like that gets sent down, they have some standard amount that counts against that team's salary cap (since the higher level club is technically paying that player's salary already). You'd could either limit the number of players like that you can carry, or maybe make it so each team can only get players sent to them by 1 MLB team.
- Independent leagues are definitely not as stable as affiliated leagues. More teams fold. Not many teams make money. The people that own and operate these teams do it for prestige, because they love the sport, to build community, etc. Most owners are happy if they only lose a little bit each year, then maybe cash in big if they have a really good year.