With ties to the game and a huge fan of Independent baseball, I want to see the progress of this brand more than anybody, which is why my suggestion that MLB purchase the Indy leagues makes all the sense in the world to me.
Of course I am very aware that something like this is quite possibly just a pipe dream.
Of the five leagues currently in existence, the Atlantic League and American Association are the longest tenured and most successful to date. While my original idea garnered some positive comments, it did shed some light on issues that could negate the whole thing before it starts;
- What would we all benefit from this
- Who will speak on behalf on Indy baseball; one representative or multiple speakers from multiple franchises
- What type of financial agreement would MLB ask for; licensing, exclusive rights to players, contracts
- Drug testing
If this became a serious thought in the minds of the “entrepreneurs”, a lump sum purchase of “one league” would certainly make the purchase less painful. We have already seen the North American Baseball League take shape after the combination of the Golden Baseball League, The Northern League and United League Baseball team up to become the first super-league in quite sometime.
Are all the commissioners and executives capable of living under one roof?
Ability, experience, travel and revenue are all factors that would determine if a project like this is possible, however in previous discussions schedules do play a huge factor in why another interesting concept could fall through the cracks; Crowning one Independent Champion is achievable.
The difference in schedules is approximately 40 games (144 at most down to 100 in others), and the future of some players goes beyond the game; once the season is finished some players return to graduate school or full-time jobs.
If MLB did get involved and pushed the envelope of using, as I mentioned previously as a feeder system, the reality of players now viewing this as a real opportunity can allow all leagues to propose an agreement on schedule length. Once concluded, league alignment, tier systems, playoffs and championships would be next in line for discussion.
If the new “Heritage League” is formatted from five separate leagues into one, the sky is the limit.
One Super League can adopt the same rules that MLB is currently working with; revenue sharing for the struggling teams etc… Instead of having multiple tryouts and camps for potential players, a league draft is held after a week long tryout camp featuring hundreds of undrafted players from all over the country.
The fans would certainly enjoy the new concept and the local independent feel would surely grow and become stronger with the idea of a “Heritage League”. A true old fashioned game with the ultimate goal of improving the product is, in the end, what every fan wants. And with renewed focus on baseball history, the prospects of marketing, endorsements, and a massive creative surge could rival anything the game has produced in quite a long time.
MLB could only be impressed with a project so huge that it can only benefit everyone in the end; the cities, communities, teams, players, and the fans.
Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective
Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals& Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.