I heard an interesting argument today that the MLB would be better off with no minor leagues. Obviously, this argument was centered on the basis that we are in a perfect world where such a system could be implemented; in our current world, no system could be implemented. The reasons that this system could never be implemented today will be briefly covered right now, and then again later in the article.
The simple argument is that, for marketing and other purposes, the MLB would be better off completely eliminating the minor leagues. I took an opposing stance on this argument, but I will try my best not to let that filter into this article.
Before we begin, it is important to note that the MLB has cut a LOT of minor league teams in the past months. This played a key role in the leadup to the debate.
Baseball is a slowly declining sport. This is a fact that many inside and outside of the sport know to be true. On the other hand, football is a sport that is rapidly rising. What is the NFL doing right that the MLB is doing wrong? The college game. The minor leagues rarely amount to anything, they make up a very small portion of the baseball market, and it wouldn’t hurt to cut minor league teams. What if there was a baseball system that incentivized staying into college, and then with the elimination of minor league teams, players would be fully developed and ready to go in the big leagues?
When I first heard this argument, I thought that it was a joke. I have a sweet spot when it comes to small town baseball, so when I realized that this wasn’t a joke, I immediately raised concerns about cutting baseball from these towns. It was clear that I had missed an important detail: in a PERFECT WORLD.
After this, the debate mainly shifted to player development concerns. I said that baseball players simply take longer to develop than football players; therefore this system would not work as college players would be immediately thrust into major league roles. After all, it is an impossible jump from college to the MLB right now.
The other person reiterated that with the new focus on college baseball, it would be much like college football with college coaches being very good coaches. The majority of the debate would be focused on player development.
I argued (and still believe) that a system from one sport cannot just be thrown onto another sport. This is mainly due to the fact that these are all DIFFERENT sports with DIFFERENT skill gaps.
Of course, this whole debate was pure speculation. This system cannot be deemed good or bad without proper testing, and due to the MLB’s current situation, now is not the time to be testing things. The MLB needs to be focused on marketing baseball by marketing PLAYERS, not marketing the game itself. I believe that this, along with other methods of marketing, could save baseball without a complete system overhaul.
Thanks for reading.