Batavia City Manager Martin Moore says the New York-Penn League is “holding its breath” while Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, is decrying the timing of the likelihood that the era of professional baseball in Batavia may be over.
“I just reached out to the NY-P League President (Ben Hayes, an attorney in Florida) a little while ago and he said they’re (Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball) still in negotiations (concerning a new Professional Baseball Agreement),” Moore said today. “They’re at a sensitive point in negotiations and I think the league is holding its breath.”
Published reports in Baseball America and The Associated Press indicate that details of a new agreement – which could eliminate 42 lower-level franchises, including short-season Class A baseball played by the Batavia Muckdogs – may come out following a teleconference call today.
“About the best I can say is everyone keep their fingers crossed,” said Moore, who would not speculate on the future of the city-owned Dwyer Stadium should the Muckdogs leave.
In January 2018, City Council transferred the lease of the stadium to the Muckdogs and the NY-P League, which had taken over ownership of the team. The NY-P League formed in 1939 with Batavia as an original member.
For Paris, who has been involved with the community-based GCBC for around 20 years, news of the possible end of the Muckdogs couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“This is never the way that we’ve wanted this to come to an end. I don’t even know how to express this … a worse situation could not have unraveled in regard to if it had to be taken from Batavia,” he said. This is not the way to do it. There’s no final season; there’s no way to prepare for what is next. There’s no way to allow people to come and watch a final game.”
Paris said it’s a crushing blow to “small town America.”
“Isn’t there a better time than now to make this announcement, when people that are involved in professional baseball don’t really have the ability to travel or communicate in a way that they would under normal circumstances?” he said. “Small town America is under siege with this crisis, and this only plays into further devastating these small towns.”
He expressed that the downsizing of pro baseball is a slap in the face of the residents of small cities such as Batavia.
“Baseball has always been about the people. The secondary portion of baseball is the people on the field. The primary portion has been the people in this country who have supported it over the last 100 years or more,” he said.
An email sent to Muckdogs General Manager Brendan Kelly was not returned by the time this article was posted.
Minor League Baseball on Tuesday released a statement disputing the Baseball America story.
“Recent articles on the negotiations between MiLB and Major League Baseball (MLB) are largely inaccurate," the statement read. "There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues. MiLB looks forward to continuing the good faith negotiations with MLB tomorrow as we work toward an agreement that best ensures the future of professional baseball throughout the United States and Canada.”
The Associated Press today reported the following:
The minor leagues are prepared to agree to Major League Baseball’s proposal to cut guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 120 next year, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a plan that would impact hundreds of prospects and cut player development expenses.
The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because no announcements were authorized. The development was first reported by Baseball America.
An electronic negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday (today).
In informal talks, parties have discussed the possibility of a radical overhaul in which MLB would take over all of many of the duties of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, another person familiar with the negotiations said.
Instead of franchise affiliations, there would be licensing agreements similar to those of hotel chains, that person said. MLB would then sell sponsorship, licensing and media rights, a switch that may lead to decreased overhead and increased revenue.
In talks to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 season, MLB last year proposed cutting 42 affiliates, including Double-A teams in Binghamton, N.Y., and Erie, Pa., along with Chattanooga and Jackson, Tenn.
The plan would eliminate affiliations for the 28 teams from four Class A Short Season, including the NY-P, and Rookie Advanced leagues that do not play at spring training complexes.