From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Say goodbye to the International League, which was formed in 1884, and the Pacific Coast League, which originated in 1903, and now welcome the brand-new Triple-A East and Triple-A West.
It’s the reorganization of MLB’s 2021 minor-league system — the first major change since the early 1960s — after 40 franchises either changed levels or were ousted, saving costs. The majority of an MLB team’s drafted players never advanced higher than Class A.
There still will be each 30 Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, though some franchises have moved to new cities.
The California, Florida State and Carolina leagues have been renamed as High-A, and the Midwest and South Atlantic loops have been reformed into Low-A. The short-season New York-Penn and Northwest leagues along with the Rookie Advanced levels (Pioneer and Appalachian) have disbanded.
The new set-up favors a better geographical lineup for each league. For example, the Syracuse Mets are in the 20-team Triple-A East and play in the Northeast Division along with Buffalo, Lehigh Valley, Rochester, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Worcester, formerly Pawtucket.
The newly formed Midwest Division includes Columbus, Indianapolis, Iowa, Louisville, Omaha, Toledo and St. Paul (formerly in the independent American Association).
Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett, Jacksonville, Memphis, Nashville and Norfolk make up the Southeast Division.
The 10-team Triple-A West includes the remaining PCL franchises. Albuquerque, El Paso, Oklahoma City, Round Rock and Sugar Land are in the East Division, and Las Vegas, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake and Tacoma are in the West.
The Double-A level now includes Central, Northeast and South divisions.
It’s going to take the ardent baseball fan some time to get familiar with the realignments of the different levels.
n I have noticed the past seven years, ESPN selects the “haves” and the “have-nots” for its “Sunday Night Baseball” game of the week.
You can always count on a few Yankees-Red Sox, Cardinals-Cubs and Giants-Dodgers matchups. You will never see the A’s, Mariners, Brewers, Reds, Blue Jays, Rockies or the like on Sundays. Teams like the Indians, Twins, Astros, Braves, Phillies and Nationals make occasional appearances. ESPN wants to show the sexy matchup, looking for the best ratings to appeal to advertisers.
In the season’s first three months, the Sunday lineup include the Yankees three times, Red Sox twice, while the World Series finalist Rays and Blue Jays each get shut out.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org