Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
WHY DOESN'T MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GET THE RESPECT IT DESERVES?
By Mike McCann
I've never understood why so many people don't treat minor league baseball in high regard. Major league baseball gets a lot of attention and the sport is known as the national pastime, but a large number of people don't treat minor league baseball like it matters. I will agree that minor league baseball is designed to be for the development of players to make it to the major leagues, but the people involved definitely deserve a lot more credit than they are given.
Often times I will hear people at minor leagues games say something to the effect of a player being pretty good, but not good enough for pro ball. I'm not sure if this is intentional slander of the player, or if people don't understand the meaning of the word professional. Since the players are getting paid to play, they are professionals. People can say that they are good, but probably not good enough for the majors to be correct.
When I talk to the casual sports fan, they will get excited about discussing what is going on in the majors. When I chime in with some fact about what the player being discussed did in the minor leagues, they don't think it is so interesting because it wasn't done while he was in the majors. Many feats are just as impressive when done in the minor leagues and not the major leagues. While it's true that some players may be playing at a little lower level than where they belong due to their talent because of their age and experience, it still shouldn't diminish their accomplishment. When a player hits for the cycle or strikes out 15 batters, the level of play shouldn't really be that much of a factor because they are still playing against guys of a similar skill level.
I think that any minor league baseball games (or any organized baseball game for that matter) are enjoyable because it almost always involves two teams of similar skill level. If you go to an Appalachian League game in July and see guys who just got out of college or high school, they aren't the most polished players. You may see a game that is a little sloppier at times. But it is still a good baseball game and you can see some really talented baseball players who will eventually put on a major league uniform.
One thing that really bothers me is that I cannot find a good website which contains minor league baseball statistics for previous seasons. For instance, if you wanted to know what Barry Bonds did while playing for Prince William of the Carolina League, you could read it off his baseball card, but have a lot of trouble finding it online. The popular sports websites will show major league statistics that you've never heard of, but they won't mention what teams they played for in the minors. The Official Minor League Baseball website (www.milb.com) recently added a search engine for minor league statistics through 1993, but i think it's a shame that there isn't an easy way to find minor league statistics for all current major league players. Although it's definitely possible that I'm just missing something.
Attendance for minor league baseball games has been climbing in recent years. Personally, I attribute it more to the affordability of minor league games for families instead of the interest in a different type of baseball. Many fans don't really pay much attention to what is happening on the field and are more interested in getting another hot dog or talking with their friends than seeing what is going on at the game. At major league games, the fans generally care more about the game itself. I attend a number of Wilmington Blue Rocks games each year and know a lot about the players. I know that there are a number of season ticket holders who also know when a star player is out of the lineup, but it is very rare.
You, the reader, may not be the right audience to discuss this with since
you are probably like me and know what is going on at each baseball game
you attend. But I think it would be nice to increase interest in minor
league baseball and ensure it gets the respect that it deserves.
I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an e-mail and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.