• Charlie Greene

No Season Report 1

Hello Bisons Booster Club members, family and friends,

This is your Booster Club First Vice-President reporting from Buffalo, New York. TRIVIA QUESTIONS: 1. Will there be a Booster Club members Dinner at Sahlen Field this summer? 2. Who was the first number-one pick in the Major League Baseball draft never to play a Major League game? Answers below. WEATHER REPORT: The lowest temperature at the start of a game if the Bisons had played their seventh home stand of this season would have been 81 degrees on Tuesday, June 30th, a 7:05 PM start and the highest temperature at the start of a game would have been 88 degrees on today, Thursday, July 3rd, a 6:05 PM start. SPORTS PAGE: The bad/sad news that many of us have been anticipating arrived at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, June 30th: all 2020 Minor League seasons are officially canceled because Major League teams said they would not supply minor league players.  . While Major League owners and players continue to prepare for a possible season this year. minor league players find themselves in a precarious situation.  MLB has left it up to individual clubs to decide whether or not to pay minor leaguers a $400.00 per week stipend after the end of May.  Some teams, like Oakland, have agreed to pay minor leaguers until what would have been the end of the regular minor league seasons.  Others are deciding payment of minor leaguers on a month by month basis.  This year, before Covid-19 suspended professional baseball play, Class A minor leaguers were scheduled to make $290.00 per week, Class AA $350.00 per week and Class AAA $502.00 per week.  That comes out to about $14,000.00 for 5 months of Class AAA players.  Of course, many minor league players sign higher paying contracts and/or benefit from large bonuses they received when they first signed with a Major League team. The situation of minor league players became even more precarious on June 22nd when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a 60 game Major League season with training to begin on July 1st.  The announcement included having Major League rosters expanded to 30 players "to account for the probable cancellation of the minor league season."  Teams are allowed to have 30 additional players who work out at a site near the Major League team's home stadium.  Most MLB teams are using a near-by minor league affiliate location to host the extra players. On June 29th, the Phillies announced that they would use Coca Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, for their "taxi squad."  The squad could include as many as 30 players not on the Phillies Major League roster.  This decision was just another sign that International League games would not be played this season, although no official announcement was made until the next day.  Several other teams, including Altoona, Toledo and Port Charlotte will host training sites for members of their parent club's player pools who do not accompany the Major League team during the regular season. Three former Bisons will appear on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballots during the next 4 years: In 2023, Dominican shortstop Jhonny Peralta will be on the ballot and in 2024, Dominican outfielder Jose Bautista, Dominican right handed pitcher Bartolo Colon and Venezuelan catcher Victor Martinez will be among the eligible players. Transactions: On June 13th, the Charlotte Knights released 3 outfielders, a second baseman and a left-handed pitcher. On June 25th, the Toledo Mud Hens released a right handed pitcher. On June 26th the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders released a right handed pitcher. On June 29th, the New York Mets assigned former Bisons outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Syracuse Mets. On July 3rd, Cleveland signed former Bisons second baseman Jake Elmore to a minor league contract and assigned him to the Columbus Clippers.  Clippers roster also includes former Bison Anthony Gose who is listed as a pitcher.  In 32 games as a reliever in A and AA level ball during 2019, Gose had a 2.48 earned run average. IN OTHER NEWS: If the Bisons had played their home games from June 29 through July 3, there would have been a replica jersey giveaway and the Key Bank Independence Eve Celebration featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus followed by the biggest fireworks display of the season. Minor league team owners continue to look for ways to make money and keep fans interested during the Covid-19 period when there are no professional baseball games.  The Salem-Kiezer Volcanoes of the short season class A Northwest League and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the AA Southern League offered fans an opportunity to rent a night at the ballpark, sleeping in the players' clubhouses.  Within 24 hours, the Blue Wahoos were sold out until July 1st.  Fans who paid $1,500.00 per night could play catch on the field, run the bases, hit in batting cages, have their own walk-up music played over the PA system, watch fireworks, have a movie and/or have a former major leaguer teach about baseball.  At least two teams that had ordered and received large supplies of food for the season sold meal kits containing a week's worth of food.  Other teams have had movie nights on the outfield grass, hosted in-park restaurants, farmers markets, fireworks and mascot character parades.  Teams in the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues are hosting the Texas Collegiate League, one of the summer college leagues that will play during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Other stadiums are hosting high school tournaments and showcases and one team plans to host an adult softball league. If MLB goes through with the plan to eliminate up to 42 minor league teams starting in 2021, most of which would be at the short-season and Rookie-level, including the entire New-York-Penn, Applalchian and Pioneer Leagues, Major League teams will rely on college and university baseball programs to provide almost full year training and actual game experience for future professional players.  Some MLB team owners think that allowing the colleges to provide these services would not only reduce minor league costs for MLB teams, but also provide better preparation for the players who would not be on their own from September through February, the time when minor league seasons end and spring training begins for minor leaguers.  The MLB plan also will wipe out the standard two-year or four-year Player Development Contracts replacing them with much longer contracts (some sources say as long as 20 years).  The plan is for a Major League team to affiliate with minor league teams as close as possible to the Major League playing site.  Thus, for example, the Bisons would affiliate with the Blue Jays for the forseeable future.  Some forms of the proposal calls for realigning teams in such a way that there will be three AAA level leagues.  Finally, some forms of the proposal call for a reduction in the number of games that minor league teams play starting in 2021.  The delay in deciding these issues could mean that the 2021 Bisons schedule may not be available by Labor Day as it has been for past decades. TRIVIA ANSWERS: 1. I included this question because readers have been asking.  The 2020 Player Appreciation Dinner at Sahlen Field was scheduled for August 2nd, but since the International League will not be playing at that time, the dinner will not be held.   2. On June 7, 1966, the Mets, with the first pick in the MLB draft, passed on Arizona State outfielder Reggie Jackson to select high school catcher Steve Chilcott.  A career minor leaguer, Chilcott retired after six years and became the first number-one pick to never play a single game for a Major League team. BACK PAGE: If the Bisons were playing, at this home stand there would have been 3 games vs the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and 2 games vs the Syracuse Mets.  They would have ended their seventh home stand of the season with the July 3rd fireworks and then traveled to Syracuse for a 3-game weekend series vs the Mets followed by 3 games vs Scranton Wilkes-Barre.  My wife and I had reservations to stay at the team hotel in Syracuse and attend the 3 games there, but, of course, those reservations had to be canceled. Even though the Bisons season has been canceled officially, I will continue to send these reports at what would have been the end of every Bisons 2020 home stand.  I am sure there will be news to include. Charlie Greene, First Vice-President, Buffalo Bisons Booster Club

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