The obvious discussion around this year’s Mariners squad has been: WHO CARES how the Major League club does, because it’s all about the prospects in the minor leagues developing into future stars! But, what happens if there are no minor league games this year?
That’s the rumor, anyway, and I find it pretty credible. The Major Leagues, of course, are also at risk of not having a season – if the teams and the players’ union can’t get on the same page regarding compensation – but with various TV deals, combined with players probably wanting to make SOME money in 2020, I find it hard to believe we won’t see professional baseball this year. But, the minors don’t have TV deals. They rely on ticket sales, among presumably other things (including money from the parent club, I’m assuming). And, if fans aren’t allowed to congregate in minor league stadia, then what’s the financial incentive for minor league organizations to field teams?
It already wasn’t going to be an ideal situation, considering at the very least we would be talking about a drastic reduction in games played; so the Mariners already won’t be getting the usual complement of time for their prospects to develop. The best way to develop, of course, is playing actual baseball games; they can throw scrimmages and whatnot in extended spring training, I suppose, but without that juice of real competition, I just don’t see what teams will be able to glean from this.
Even if – in some alternate universe – this baseball season had gone according to plan, we’d still be talking about the major sports franchise in North America with the longest playoff drought being – AT BEST – two years away from legitimately competing for a playoff spot (regardless of whatever rules changes are implemented to increase our chances). Now, go ahead and throw away a year’s worth of development, tack on however many years on top of that as minor league players get rusty without game action from this lay-off and need to readjust to playing again (and getting back into game shape, and recover from whatever injuries they develop as they TRY to get back into game shape, as well as whatever variables I’m incapable of seeing at the moment), and what do we have? 2024 or 2025 as the first seasons this Mariners rebuild MIGHT be playoff ready?
This post-season drought will probably be able to rent an automobile by the time the Mariners see the playoffs again!
What’s worse than any of it is the fact that we’ll be losing a season’s worth of team control for all these guys. For an organization that’s always been at least medium-tight fisted with their money, that’s not nothing! Of course, having our prospects develop into superstars who command big-money contracts is a good problem to have, but it obviously hampers us in filling in the roster around those guys with veteran free agents/trade acquisitions, as the Mariners don’t have the flexibility that the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers choose to have (by being more willing to spend tons more money).
Things, of course, have to go about as perfectly as possible when you’re talking about teams competing for a World Series title. But, some teams are able to overcome a few misfires in personnel, whereas the Mariners straddle a fine line by never REALLY giving it their 100% all when it comes to pushing to be a championship-winning ballclub. So, things like not having a minor league season hurts us more than most.
I know Rays and A’s fans aren’t feeling too sorry for us, but at least they’ve had the benefit of rooting for organizations who don’t have their heads completely up their own asses when it comes to drafting and developing players! At least they’ve had a WHIFF of success at the Major League level a few times in the last 20+ years!