Milwaukee Brewers minor league player Andre Nnebe throws as Canadian geese take the infield during an informal workout. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
We know how NFL teams fill their rosters. Every year at training camp they bring in 100 potential players. They practice with them, evaluate them and by the time the season begins they have chosen the best 53 to start the season.
It seems to work just fine.
And then there’s baseball.
The baseball minor league system is nuts. There are at least five different categories of leagues, from Triple A to Rookie league (which has two subsets.)
As I wrote in my Sunday column in the Press Democrat, that’s ridiculous.
Currently, there is a big fuss about plans by MLB to shut down 42 minor league teams. Take a guess how many minor league teams will be left if MLB cuts 42 of them.
One hundred and twenty.
That’s a lot of players. And although it is a little hard to pin down an exact number because rosters are fluid, but there are at least 5,000 minor leaguers in the system. They get poverty wages — one web site calculated the average Class A player makes $290 a week — sleep on air mattresses in shared rooms or live with a host family.
And the chances of making it to The Show? Slim and none. Only one in ten minor leaguers makes it all the way through the levels to the Big Leagues. As an ex-player says in the column, there are only three players on each team that have the talent to make the majors. The rest are there to give them someone to play against. It’s like summer camp for 20-something jocks.
Baseball traditionalists (a phrase that may be redundant) are howling about the loss of the slice of Americana that is the minor leagues. If they really think they are going to miss minor league ball that much there is one solution.
Rent “Bull Durham.”
Contact C.W. Nevius at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @cwnevius