On Monday, Kevin reported that MLB’s new plan to make the minor league development pipeline more profitable for the 30 teams included a list of 42 teams across the country that would be dropped from the system. One of those is the Giants’ short season A-ball affiliate in Oregon, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
Tonight, the team’s Twitter account sent this urgent plea:
If you already know the background, click here to go to the petition signature page. They’re looking to get 2,021 signatures. As of this writing, they’re at —
The petition reads:
Your Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, one of the most decorated and storied affiliated Professional Baseball franchises in Pacific Northwest history is facing an unprecedented threat to be eliminated by Major League Baseball. The Volcanoes have been nationally recognized for its support of Veterans, those affected by cancer, women in leadership and cultural diversity. Volcanoes Nation stands together to Save Our Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (SOS).
If you’re on the fence about all this, here’s a little more background:
The Giants became affiliated with the team in 1995, when the team was in Bellingham. It moved to Keizer in 1997. The Volcanoes have won five league titles, most recently in 2009. The team also hosted what was called the first professional baseball game to have an “Eclipse Delay” in 2017. The Volcanoes are the Giants’ second-longest tenured minor league affiliate. The San Jose Giants have been an affiliate since 1988.
Also on Monday, Congresspeople from both parties composed a letter to MLB, urging the league to rethink the proposal:
“If enacted, it would undermine the health of the minor league system that undergirds talent development and encourages fan loyalty,”
Yesterday, MLB responded:
We recognize that MiLB is framing the issue as saving baseball in communities that presently have it. But we have already committed to both MiLB and local communities that have inquired that MLB will offer options to preserve baseball in a viable and fan-friendly format in all cities that currently have an affiliate. The focus of MiLB in our very brief negotiations has been the impact of changes to the PBA on the value of their franchises — not on the impact of changes on local communities. We know for a fact that many Minor League owners — including owners in districts represented by Members of Congress who signed the letter to the Commissioner — are presently attempting to relocate their affiliates to different cities or sell them outright.
That was near the conclusion of the letter which could best be summarized as saying:
F— you. You have no idea what’s really going on here and we know what’s best.
It could very well be that Salem Keizer is one of these teams trying to sell or move, but beyond the suspicious behavior of MLB using MiLB team owners as a shield, the general criteria they’ve outline for rethinking their decades old system still doesn’t apply to the Volcanoes. Their facilities, while not cutting edge, are modern, and the team does not have long travel issues.
In a statement from Volcanoes owner Jerry Walker:
It should also be noted that the Volcanoes’ have, by far, the best travel (least miles traveled) in the Northwest League. This includes multiple 45 minutes to 1 hour commute trips every season. If one of MLB goals is to decrease travel certainly Volcanoes Stadium needs to be included.
Major League Baseball has put its foot down: it’s going to keep growing its profits no matter the consequences. That means driving down player costs. That means cultivating an elite in-stadium audience and lucrative media deals with no consequences for pushing a league of tanking teams and crappy players. That means culling minor league franchises to make baseball’s development pipeline “more efficient”.
Efficiency is just another way of saying “make the most money as quickly as possible.” They obviously know something we don’t because it feels like the 30 team owners and Commissioner’s Office have been racing to pump and dump the sport before . . . a global apocalypse? Stronger government oversight in the next decade? A Space Jam situation wherein we lose most of our best players in a do-or-die playoff game against a team of aliens?
We can get into a lot of different discussions about cost and efficiency and the availability of baseball and the “community good” factor, but instead let’s focus on the task at hand: Salem, Oregon has had professional baseball since 1940 and the Volcanoes specifically since 1997. Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Sergio Romo, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong, and Dan Runzler (hmm, I really should stop ending the tour with him) all passed through Volcanoes Stadium. It has a history and a purpose wholly separate from the financial interests of 30 teams whose owners are using them as their tertiary profit centers.
One petition won’t stem the tide or change the mind of a force that’s already decided your dead and has the perpetual power to make that so, but it’s one small action we can take in a situation where there are very few actions available, now or ever.