SAN DIEGO — Speaking to minor league baseball’s executives about a controversial proposal to contract 42 teams, MILB president and CEO Pat O’Conner delivered a blistering rebuke of the plan.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be splintered for this next deal,” O’Conner said. “No one’s future is safe, unless all of your futures are safe.”
In his annual address during the opening session of the minor league winter meetings, O’Conner began by ticking off the general health of MILB, which saw a year-over-year increase in attendance to 41.5 million during a time when in-venue attendance is dropping across the sports landscape. Nineteen teams set single-season attendance records. Bottom-line revenue is expected to be up.
“Big storm clouds loom on the horizon,” O’Conner said, abruptly changing the tone of his speech with that sentence.
According to the proposal from Major League Baseball, as first detailed in October, 42 teams would lose their MLB affiliation when the current Professional Baseball Agreement expires on Sept. 15, 2020. The remaining teams would be realigned into leagues that maximize the proximity of each affiliate to its big league parent.
In addition, the draft would be pushed…