It’s fun to call the New York Yankees the Evil Empire. It’s even more fun to call the Red Sox the new and improved Evil Empire. But we’re missing the mark entirely.
The real Evil Empire is Major League Baseball itself.
For years, the Cape Cod Baseball league has operated as a non-profit baseball league where college players can hone their skills against other Major League prospects.
The league is run entirely by volunteers. They survive through donations, grants, and merchandise sales.
MLB itself usually contributes $100,000 per season to the league.
The best part about the league is that it’s completely free to attend a game.
People like me, who don’t have the money to take their entire family to a major league game, can bring the entire family and watch a Cape Cod league game completely for free.
If there’s another league where you can watch legit Major League prospects play for free, I’m not aware of it.
According to Eric Wilber of Boston.com, there are over 200 former Cape Cod Leaguers in the Majors right now.
The most evil of all Evil Empires, Bud Selig’s Major League Baseball, doesn't see this as a great place to take a family. It doesn't see a great opportunity for college players. It doesn't see a great group of volunteers putting their time and money to good use.
It sees a chance to help their own bottom line.
You see, this non-profit baseball league has six teams that share names with real MLB teams. Which until now hasn’t been an issue.
But MLB, the same MLB that recently touted the billions of dollars it made last season, wants the Cape Cod league to pay to use their team names.
It doesn't stop there.
They want 11 percent of all merchandise sales, the teams to switch to official MLB uniforms (which they'll have to pay for), to put a stop to all non-MLB merchandise sales, and to put out of business all non-MLB licensed merchants.
If the Cape Cod League doesn’t comply, they’ll take away their $100,000 grant.
That grant consists of almost 10% of the league's total operating budget. A potential death-blow to the small but popular summer league.
The local merchants that MLB wants to put out of business provide most of the money needed to run the Cape Cod league—never mind the fact that it provides employment for local residents in a time where employment isn't exactly easy to find.
So to recap, after its most successful season ever, MLB is telling a non-profit baseball league for college kids that gives local residents a place where they can take their families to watch great baseball for free to pay up or close up.
MLB is saying to all of the people who generously contribute their time and money to this wonderful throwback league that 11 percent of their time and money are going directly into Bud Selig’s pocket.
Is MLB hurting for money? Do they not like the competition? What’s the deal here, Bud?
Never mind asking for 11 percent; MLB should be using some of their billions of dollars to donate a heck of a lot more than $100,000 to a league they’ve used as an extension of their minor leagues for years.
MLB owes the Cape Cod League—to suggest the opposite is completely insane.
For MLB to do so is ridiculously petty.
I may be willing to support the new and improved Evil Empire, but I’m not sure I can support an evil empire within an even larger, more evil empire.
Bud Selig needs to fix this. Immediately.
This is oil company level greed.
And Selig wonders why he's almost universally hated.