Eliminate MLB leagues
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MLB might eliminate leagues, go with universal DH for 2020

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Eliminate MLB leagues? Yep. Read on.

One of the things I’ve been reminded of while doing all of those Today in Baseball History posts is that, until very recently, MLB as an institution didn’t really manage the game in an active way. Rather, the leagues — the National League and American League — did. Major League Baseball handled negotiations with the players union and worked on national TV deals, but each of the leagues had their own presidents, each had their own set of umpires, each doled out discipline, each made its own decisions about expansion and things like that.

It was not until Bud Selig took over that power was truly consolidated in the main MLB office. At first the league presidents became ceremonial figures. Then they were eliminated entirely. Then everything of substance was put under MLB’s umbrella. Today the AL and NL exist solely as organizational concepts and don’t function like actual leagues, with the DH or lack thereof being the only real difference between them.

Which makes this report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today make a lot of sense. He says that Major League Baseball is considering doing away with the American and National Leagues for the 2020 season entirely.

Like the Arizona Bubble League thing it’s just an idea being thrown out there, but to eliminate MLB leagues is something of a radical idea. As for the specifics of the idea: they’d split the 30 teams between Arizona and Florida based on the geography of their spring training sites, creating Cactus League and Grapefruit League divisions for the abbreviated season. What’s more — and what’s likely to get the most discussion — would be that the DH “would likely be universally implemented.” Which, really, if you’re expanding rosters and dealing with weird, fastracked, pitcher-health-endangering baseball to begin with, is probably a good idea.

Nightengale says that two more Wild Card teams could be added or — echoing an idea I had last month — they could possibly have a postseason tournament with all 30 teams.

Again, they’re throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I have no problem with that. If and when they play baseball this year, it will not be in any way a normal situation, so expecting normality on-the-field is probably not realistic.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.