Opening Day: Reporting on the other 98%

Opening Day – FINALLY – is upon us. The MLB and MLBPA did their darndest over the winter to dangle us like stale cotton candy stuck on a wad of freshly chawed chew to delay Opening Day via what seemed to be endless negotiations, but they merely delayed it by a week. Spring training was shortened so we may see some crazy-ass baseball for a few weeks, but it ought to be fun.

It will be full regardless how much the Cubs will suck and they will suck. Photo courtesy of me – yeah I shot it.

I took a swing at the teams and thought about writing a prediction – who will suck, who won’t, who will make the playoffs despite their roster or manager or owner – but said to myself, “no, let’s not do that. Let’s talk about the MLB farm system. – the other 98%,”
Personnel volume-wise, it is not 98%, but by player salaries it has to be close. The baseball farm system, in case you do not know, is a place where you get what you want to make everything better for yourself on the cheap. This is also known as MLB owners collectively stating, “we’re going to drag your sorry asses all over the place via bus just for you to get a chance to get to The Show.”

The MLB, Major League Baseball for those who do not know, has consolidated their minor league ranks into the MiLB, or “Minor League Baseball.” The reason why they consolidated is the reason why owners of teams do everything, to save some money. Yeah, you’ll still see minor leagues unaffiliated with MLB, but those players are seriously toast. They are done, have been done for a few seasons, and are just there to tip their hat, strike out or throw a hammy, then limp back to the dugout. That’s more of a sideshow circus than baseball IMO, but people still go to see it. The Schaumburg Boomers, part of the Frontier League which I believe is an MLB “Partner” league (AKA you don’t really exist in their eyes, but it is baseball so whatever now pay us), would be one of those teams.

Okay, let’s check out the MiLB right… now.

Rookie League

Seems a bit redundant to have a Rookie League and Single A, but here we are. The Rookie Leagues travel nowhere. You have the Arizona Complex League and the Florida Complex League. The Arizona League is where the youngsters sweat their asses off; the Florida League is where their asses get bitten off by alligators.

Rumor has it they were going to name them the ‘Compact” leagues, but the MLB was worried about having too many of the players spending time in the field looking at themselves in tiny mirrors and smoothing out their foundation as baseballs whizzed past their face.

Single A

This is where team’s place their prize ponies, where the future studs have a great chance to develop. Most of them will spend a cup of coffee at least in AA, but it’s not uncommon for studs to move up from Single A to The Show.

Single A is now divided into 2 leagues – The High A and the Single A. The High A is a combination of players being groomed for The Show ASAP and dope-smoking hippies who can hit a curveball. Single A is single A. It’s. A. Single. A. That’s it.

High A teams, AKA ‘the elites’, are divided into three leagues – the Midwest League, the Northwest League and the South Atlantic League. Incredibly, the Midwest League actually has honest-to-goodness Midwest teams like the Fort Wayne Tincaps; the aptly named Great Lakes Loons; and the Beloit Sky Carp. If you happen to see any fish flying at ya around the Beloit area, please let us know. The Northwest League? Same geographical consistency. Hey, I could like A ball if this continues. Teams includes the alliterative Eugene Emeralds; equally alliterative Hillsboro Hops; and the “where did they get that name from? Duh” Vancouver Canadians. Finally, there’s the South Atlantic League. Teams include the Asheville Tourists – pretty south, not that Atlanticky but okay; the Greenville Drive – weird name but closer to the Atlantic; and the Brooklyn Cyclones. Is Brooklyn south? Yeah, south of Manhattan. There goes the holy geographical loveliness of the High A League.

You may be asking yourself – but what of the Single A leagues? How geographically sound are they? Single A also includes three leagues. First to the dish is the California League. We’re all good here with teams such as the Fresno Grizzlies (you won’t find a grizzly in California let alone one munching raisins in Fresno); the Stockton Ports (yes there is a port in Stockton); and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (fault line? heck yes).

On deck we have the Carolina League. Lot of teams. Alphabetically they are off to a bad start – the Augusta GreenJackets. Cute name. Appropriate due to the Masters Golf Tournament… and wrong. Augusta is in Georgia. Down the list we go – Carolina, Carolina, Carolina, damn it – Maryland. The Delmarva Shorebirds. Delmarva rhymes with Dellarva which sounds disgusting. Carolina, Carolina, Virginia. Fredericksburg Nationals. Not even a clever name. OK. This league has been declared as geographical trash even with a sweet-ass team named the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers in it.

In the hole – its baseball lingo people relax – is the Florida State League. Now, Florida is a big state so having them all be in Florida isn’t difficult. They succeed 100 percent and have great named teams such as the Dayton Tortugas, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, and the Tampa Tarpons (one measly letter off from being hysterically inappropriately funny).

Double-A

The league where your ponies get tuned up, your pros do rehab, and where you have some really great team names. Odd as it is, Double A has three leagues whereas Triple A has two. I know. Mind-boggling really. Let’s check them out.

The Eastern League is chock full of great named teams and chock full of teams that are not exactly “eastern” like the Akron RubberDucks. However, it does have the Hartford Yard Goats and the Richmond Flying Squirrels to make up for the geographical gaffes.

Strolling up to the dish is the Southern League. Yes, every single team is in the south. Some more southern than others, but all below the Mason-Dixon line. You’ve got teams like the Montgomery Biscuits, Michael Jordan’s former team the Birmingham Barons, and from Huntsville Alabama, the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Right here is where I ask you, dear readers, a simple question – what stadium do the hapless Baltimore Orioles play in? First person who answers this question correctly via any social media or by responding to this article gets a minor league T-shirt. I’m serious. I’ll pick it out for you so it will be a surprise.
Finally, ready to take their cuts we have the Texas League. Once again, big state – a VERY BIG state. Naturally they are going to have teams all from Texas. Let’s see. Amarillo Sod Poodles. Yes, very Texas. WTF is a Sod Poodle? Well, in Texan lingo a Prairie Dog is called a Sod Poodle. I have a very creative imagination, but you just can’t make shit up like this without ingesting a crap-ton of tequila worms. Someone had to have. FYI – their manager is Shawn Roof. As such, they have both the ground and the ceiling covered. The Texas League also has the Corpus Christi Hooks which roughly translates to the body of Christ… with hooks. Seems wrong. Should have been the Nails. Other teams in the Texas League include… Arkansas? Northwest Arkansas? Springfield? Tulsa? Wichita???? C’mon! Egregious geographical foul balls! Texas League, I rid myself of thee.

Triple-A

The mid-market majors so to speak. Triple A is where there certainly can be pros on rehab assignment, or pitchers sent down to try to perfect another pitch, but a lot of these players are old pros hanging on trying hard to not be in a league affiliated with nothing.

Triple-A is broken down into the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Naturally, the Pacific Coast League has teams in it such as the Tacoma Rainiers and the Sacramento River Cats. They also have the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Las Vegas Aviators because the Pacific Ocean, over the course of time, will eventually reach these places.
The International League doesn’t have a single team, not one, that is outside of the continental United States. However, with teams such as the Charlotte Knights, St. Paul Saints and Indianapolis Indians (yes, it’s true and yes, I know it’s dumb) I am fairly confident every city in the International League has an IHOP right down the street from the stadium. The International League bases are loaded – with pancakes.

I got through this, and now I realize, wow – A, AA, AAA. Those are battery sizes. What is a pitcher-catcher combo called? A battery. Which gets me all charged up for Opening Day! Play ball! Go Giants! Go White Sox!

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