Major League Baseball on Friday announced the new leagues that its shrunken-down minor league affiliate system will play in starting this year, and the big news is that all the historic league names of yore are gone: no more Pacific Coast League, New York-Penn League, or Texas League. (Though presumably Texas Leaguers will still exist.) Though the even bigger news might be how incredibly dumb the league names are:
Yes, that’s the Triple-A West East Division, which manages to sound both generic and demented, a difficult feat to pull off. There’s also a Double-A Northeast Southwest Division, and a Double-A South North, and other bizarre nomenclatures.
Or maybe the biggest news is the reason behind the weird names, which is apparently so they don’t get in the way of a corporate name to come:
For the time being, MLB is referring to the affiliated minors as the Professional Development League (PDL), but it’s widely expected that MLB will sell naming rights to the circuit, not unlike the NBA‘s G League.
The G League, for those unfamiliar, was known as the D (for Developmental) League until 2017, when for an undisclosed price it agreed to change its logo to this:
And if you’re unfamiliar with that, the G with the lightning bolt is the logo of Gatorade. If we’re lucky, MLB will partner with a company that’s easily abbreviated like that; if we’re extremely lucky, the winning sponsor will be Anheuser-Busch or American Airlines, and we can refer to either the Busch League or the AA AAA West East Division.
The reformation of the minors has also resurfaced complaints about the 43 teams that are being either vaporized or demoted to unpaid-intern status as part of the deal, with Sen. Bernie Sanders, for one, tweeting that “I will do all I can to fight” the elimination of the Vermont Lake Monsters. (Sanders griped publicly about this when it was first reported in November, too, but it seems everyone was a little distracted then.) The only way Congress is likely to influence MLB’s power grab — especially with it already paying so much in dividends in the ability to shake down cities for stadium cash or else risk being shut out of the Miner Leagues — is to threaten to repeal its antitrust exemption, which nobody is talking about right now. So don’t hold out much hope for the cavalry to ride to the rescue of either traditional baseball nomenclature or the Norwich Sea Unicorns, who had only renamed their team just in time to be purged from history, which should make their souvenirs immensely valuable.