SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in 118 years, there will not be a minor league baseball season.
Minor league baseball had held a season every year in the past, through Major League Baseball strikes and even during world wars.
On June 30, Minor League Baseball announced that for the first time ever, a season would not be played as the MLB is not providing minor league teams with players for the 2020 season, due to COVID-19.
“It was not a surprise, the way it looked like it was going with the delays to the major league start to the season. It was a disappointing day. There were 118 years we’ve had minor league baseball, this is the first time we’ve not had a season,” Bees president Marc Amicone said. “It was a hard day.”
With so many reps taken during the 140-game Triple-A season, having no season this year will cause players to miss out on a year of development. Amicone says there’s nothing that can replace playing real games.
“The way player development works, it’s going to be difficult. When you miss a year at that level to prove and move up in ranks, you may look at it as a player and say ‘Everything I’ve done just got delayed a year.’” — Salt Lake Bees president Marc Amicone
“The way player development works, it’s going to be difficult. When you miss a year at that level to prove and move up in ranks, you may look at it as a player and say, ‘Everything I’ve done just got delayed a year,’” Amicone said. “It’s one less opportunity for them to show themselves and impress a major league club. The reality is that it’s one less year to improve your tools.”
Not only does the season leave an empty spot in players’ lives, but it leaves an empty spot in the lives of fans and thousands of Utahns. Going to a Bees, Owlz or Raptors game, having a hot dog and watching baseball during the summer is a ritual for many.
“It’s definitely a void. It’s an empty spot for a lot of people. We’ve had a lot of conversations with our season ticket holders and everyone is going to miss it,” Amicone said.
Now, all players and fans can do is grab ahold of the old saying, “There’s always next year,” and look forward to the 2021 season, when Bees baseball will return to Utah.
“Now we can refocus and look at next year. We’re going to be excited and we’re going to be ready for 2021,” Amicone said. “I think the important part of the whole scenario is that we all recognize and understand that we need to deal with a pandemic, we need to figure out how to be safe in doing events and hosting people. Hopefully by that point, treatments and vaccines will be prepared and it changes everything we’re doing come next spring.”
For the Orem Owlz, rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, and Ogden Raptors, rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the season cancellation is even harder given that the existence of the two teams is up in the air. In April, the Associated Press reported that MLB had proposed cutting minor league affiliates, including eliminating affiliations from rookie league teams that do not play at major league spring training complexes, which would include the Owlz and Raptors. While debate around the proposal is ongoing, the Owlz acknowledged the uncertainty in a statement provided by Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky.
“On June 30, we learned through a press release that the 2020 MiLB season was cancelled based upon the refusal of MLB to provide players to the Minor League System. Further, MLB and MiLB have been in intense negotiations over MLB’s desire to eliminate over 25% of all Minor League Baseball, including the entire Pioneer League,” the statement read. “The Owlz have had two phenomenal decades in Utah County, bringing 5 championships and over 90 Major Leaguers to you. In light of all these matters in which we have no control, we do not know what tomorrow brings, but we will keep swinging. We will do our best to keep you informed as these things unfold for 2021.”
Raptors president Dave Baggott did not address the possible elimination of the club in his statement regarding the cancellation of the 2020 season.
“We are disappointed that the 2020 season will not be played, but we remain committed to providing a first-class atmosphere while ensuring everyone’s safety and health when visiting Lindquist Field, the ‘Best Ballpark View in the World.’ As always, we will continue to support our Ogden community and look forward to Raptors Baseball returning in 2021,” he said.