Cubs Odds and Ends: Cubs probably won't lose a MiLB team, MLB issues slap on the wrist


by - Columnist -
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

As the battle rages on, it now looks more and more like MLB will strip MiLB of around 42 minor league franchises. The good news is that it also now looks as though the Cubs will avoid losing their franchise in Eugene, Oregon.

An article in Baseball America outlined the 42 teams that might get cut.

However, none of this is official as MiLB released the following statement earlier this week:

"Recent articles on the negotiations between MiLB and Major League Baseball (MLB) are largely inaccurate. There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues. MiLB looks forward to continuing the good faith negotiations with MLB on Wednesday as we work toward an agreement that best ensures the future of professional baseball throughout the United States and Canada."

On Thursday, both sides released the following statement, "The parties are continuing their discussions, with the goal of concluding a mutually beneficial long-term agreement in the near future."

Here is the complete proposal of possible cuts:

No Triple-A teams made the list, though some MLB teams will lose Double-A affiliates. The Mets will lose their Double-A franchise in Binghamton, New York (Rumble Ponies), while the Reds get stripped of their Double-A team in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Lookouts). Also losing Double-A teams are the Tigers who'll be without their franchise in Erie, Pennsylvania (SeaWolves), and the Diamondbacks, who'll lose their Double-A team located in Jackson, Tennessee (Generals).

The next four teams on the chopping block involve High Class-A teams. The Rockies will lose the Lancaster (California) JetHawks, the Braves will lose the Florida Fire Frogs, located in North Port, Florida, and the Orioles will be without the Frederick (Maryland) Keys. The Reds take another hit at this level, as they'll also be losing the Daytona Tortugas.

Moving to the Low Class-A division, six teams will become defunct, and part of Iowa's economy will take a hit. In Iowa, the Angels will lose the Burlington Bees, while the Marlins lose the Clinton LumberKings. The A's will lose the Beloit (Wisconsin) Snappers, the Royals will lose the Lexington (Kentucky) Legends, and the Nationals will lose the Hagerstown (Maryland) Suns. Finally, the Mariners will lose the West Virginia Power, located in Charleston.

There will be a total of 11 teams cut from the Short-Season venue. The Nationals will lose their affiliate in Auburn, New York (Auburn Doubledays), the Marlins will lose the Batavia (New York) Muckdogs, the Tigers will lose the Norwich Sea Unicorns located in Norwich, CT (previously called the Connecticut Tigers), and the Red Sox will say goodbye to the Lowell Spinners (Lowell, MA). Next, the Indians will lose the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, OH); Giants: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Keizer, OR); Cardinals: State College Spikes (College, PA) and the Yankees will forego the Staten Island Yankees (Staten Island, NY). Finally, the Padres take a hit on the Tri-City Dust Devils (Pasco, WA); Athletics: Vermont Lake Monsters (Burlington, VT) and the Phillies will ditch the Williamsport Crosscutters (Williamsport, PA).

The last sector to take a hit will be the Rookie Division, losing a total of 17 franchises. The Reds take yet another pair of bullets at this level, losing the Billings Mustangs (Billings, Montana) and the Greeneville Reds, situated in Tusculum, Tennessee. Toronto will lose the Bluefield Blue Jays (Bluefield, VA), while Pittsburgh will say farewell to the Bristol Pirates (Bristol, TN). Atlanta will lose its franchise in Danville, VA (the Danville Braves), and Kansas City forego having a franchise in Burlington, NC (Burlington Royals).

Minnesota will lose the Elizabethton Twins (Elizabethton, TN), Colorado loses the Grand Junction Rockies (Grand Junction, CO), and Chicago's south-siders lose their Great Falls Voyagers, located in Great Falls, Montana. I'm not sure what in the hell a Chukar is, but Kansas City will lose that affiliate as well, which is located in – wait for it – Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The Johnson City (TN) Cardinals are history, as are the Kingsport Mets (Kingsport, TN). The Missoula PaddleHeads (who could be proud to wear a jersey that reads that?) will become a thing of the past, which will cost Arizona another affiliate. That team used to be called the Missoula Osprey, which is a hell of a lot cooler than PaddleHeads. The Dodgers lose an affiliate in Ogden, Utah (Raptors), while on the other side of Los Angeles, the Angels say goodbye to the Orem Owlz (Orem, UT). The final two losses come for the Rays, who'll lose their franchise in Princeton, West Virginia (Princeton Rays), and finally, the Brew Crew take a hit as they'll lose the Rocky Mountain Vibes, located in Colorado Springs, CO.

I have no idea how the Eugene Emeralds and the Tennessee Smokies escaped the chopping block, but they did reportedly, leaving the Cubs as the only team in the NL Central not to lose a MiLB franchise.

MLB issues slap on the wrist for Red Sox

Fans and MLB are still reeling and seething from the punishment handed down to the Astros. Now, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has issued another slap on the wrist, this time to Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox.

After interviewing 65 witnesses and combing through tens of thousands of pages of electronic communications, MLB issued a 15-page report. The report totaled a half-dozen pages more than the report on the Astros, but Cora and the Red Sox weren't punished nearly as bad.

In the report, Manfred credits the Boston organization's front office with making "commendable efforts toward instilling a culture of compliance in the organization." Manfred also noted that the Red Sox cheating was less egregious than Houston's - whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

As for the punishment, Boston has lost its second-round pick in this year's June Draft. Cora was suspended for the 2020 season, but there's added insult in that punishment. Cora's suspension was for his actions while with Houston in 2017. He received no punishment whatsoever for his role as Boston's manager in 2018, as he piloted the team to 108 wins and a World Series championship. Finally, Boston's video replay system operator (J.T. Watkins) has been suspended for the 2020 season and may not return to that position in 2021.

Cora will probably never work in baseball again, but that doesn't mean that the punishment was adequate.

Manfred was soft at every phase of this cheating scandal, which isn't the right message to send. Instead of worrying about the pace of play and how many men a pitcher faces, he should try worrying about the integrity of the game.

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