The Newark Bears are no longer part of the Canadian American League, an independent league. As a result, their future is very much in question, writes David Giambusso of The Star-Ledger. The Bears have had problems for a while now, drawing fewer than 500 fans per game while putting together losing teams.
Due to the uncertainty, the Bears’ owners informed Commissioner Miles Wolff that they would not field a team for the 2014 season, a decision that Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo did not like:
DiVincenzo, who has expressed frustration in the past with Bears’ ownership, said it did not matter what league the team plays in, provided there is something for fans to come see.
“I don’t care as long as we’re playing baseball,” DiVincenzo said. “I don’t want the stadium to go black.”
The team is so cash-strapped and mired in debt they “didn’t have the funds to invest in staff and marketing,” as co-owner Danielle Dronet put it. Dronet is hoping to find new investors to help breathe fresh life into the team. Additionally, they’ll have to change their marketing plan from beer pong for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a fake Justin Bieber concert to something legitimate.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.
Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.
Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.
There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.