2021 March 7: Hockey - Henderson Silver Knights
2019 September 5: Baseball - Eugene Emeralds
2019 August 29: Baseball - Rieleros de Aguascalientes
2019 August 22: Baseball - Sugar Land Skeeters
2019 August 10: Baseball - Augusta GreenJackets
So after a year of sheer insanity, it looks like a new normal is beginning to emerge. No, I'm not talking about the pandemic. I'm talking about the restructuring of minor league baseball.
For those who are unaware, Major League Baseball (MLB) have basically engaged in a hostile takeover of Minor League Baseball (MiLB), the organization that collectively represented the affiliated minor leagues. As a result of this, the short-season "A" leagues and non-complex Rookie leagues have been jettisoned, many affiliated teams have been kicked out of the affiliated system, a handful of unaffiliated teams have been welcomed into the affiliated system, dozens of teams have changed leagues, and all of the leagues have been given (temporary?...I'm seeing conflicting reports about this) new names. Of the teams that were booted from affiliated baseball, some have responded by joining independent leagues, some by joining collegiate summer leagues, some have folded outright, some have suspended operations for the 2021 season while they consider their options, and one actually formed a new league with three new teams. In short, it's a gigantic mess. I'll try to summarize below. For those who only want to know the major changes (relocations, foldings, and new teams), I'll put those in bold.
One note: For the time being I'm going to keep using the old names for leagues, in part because some reports (have I mentioned it's a gigantic mess?) say MLB is trying to get the rights to these names and will probably go back to them in a season or two.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION: The St. Paul Saints have become an affiliated team and moved to the International League. The Texas Air Hogs have folded. There is a new team joining the league, the Houston Apollos. Also, the Kane County Cougars, formerly of the Midwest League, have joined the AA.
APPALACHIAN LEAGUE: This former rookie league has been dropped from affiliated baseball in its entirety and has converted to a collegiate summer league. Since the Bush League Factor doesn't review collegiate leagues, these teams have been dropped from the BLF site.
ATLANTIC LEAGUE: The Sugar Land Skeeters (who never made sense as an Atlantic League team since they were in Texas) have joined the Pacific Coast League, while the Somerset Patriots (who did make sense as an Atlantic League team in New Jersey) have joined the Eastern League. In their place, the Lexington Legends and West Virginia Power have moved from the Midwest League to the AGL. Finally, the Atlantic League has a new team, the Gastonia Honey Hunters.
CALIFORNIA LEAGUE: The league has dropped from "High A" to "Low A" (could someone please explain why, if they were mucking everything up anyway, Major League Baseball didn't take the oppportunity to go back to designating the levels something that made sense like "A", "B", "C", and "D"?). The Lancaster JetHawks have suspended operations, and their future is uncertain. The Fresno Grizzlies, formerly the San Francisco Giants affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, are now part of the CAL as the Colorado Rockies' affiliate.
CAROLINA LEAGUE: Good lord. The new Carolina League (if indeed it ever gets called that name; it wouldn't surprise me for them to give this league a new name even if all the others return to their old ones) has only two teams — the Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Winston-Salem Dash — in common with the old one. The Fredericksburg Keys have dropped to a newly-created "MLB Draft League", which is basically a collegiate summer league run by MLB that aims to sign the most promising draft prospects. (Since the BLF doesn't cover collegiate summer leagues, the Keys are being dropped from the rankings.) The Potomac Nationals have moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia and are now the Fredericksburg Nationals. The Nationals, along with the other teams from last year's Carolina League — the Carolina Mudcats, Down East Wood Ducks, Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Lynchburg Hillcats, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and Salem Red Sox — are now part of the South Atlantic League. Replacing all of these teams are the Lake County Capitans from the Midwest League; the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Brooklyn Cyclones, and Hudson Valley Renegades from the New-York Penn League; and the Asheville Tourists, Greenville Grasshoppers, Greenville Drive, Hickory Crawdads, and Rome Braves from the South Atlantic League.
EASTERN LEAGUE: Definitely one of the more stable leagues in all of this madness, the only changes to the Eastern League are that the Trenton Thunder have dropped to the MLB Draft League (which, as mentioned above, is an MLB-run collegiate summer league) and the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League have joined the EL.
FRONTIER LEAGUE: Another stable league. The only changes are from Ottawa: The Ottawa Champions have folded, and in their place is a new, unrelated team called the Ottawa Titans.
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE: The Charlotte Stone Crabs have folded, while the Florida Fire Frogs have suspended operations and their future is uncertain. Like the California League, the FSL has dropped from High A to Low A.
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE: The Pawtucket Red Sox have moved to Worcester. The IL has picked up several teams from other leagues, including the American Association's St. Paul Saints; the Pacific Coast League's Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds, Nashville Sounds, and Omaha Storm Chasers; and the Southern League's Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. In addition, there is a temporary change in the IL. With the Toronto Blue Jays playing this season in Buffalo, the Buffalo Bisons will play this year's home games in Trenton, New Jersey. The Bisons will be using the Trenton Thunder name for their games in Trenton, but on the road they will still be known as the Buffalo Bisons.
MEXICAN LEAGUE: It isn't part of the reorganization, but the Mexican League is picking up two new teams, el Águila de Veracruz and los Mariachis de Guadalajara.
MIDWEST LEAGUE: The league has moved up from Low A to High A. The Burlington Bees and Clinton LumberKings have moved to the Prospect League, a collegiate summer league (and thus will no longer be on the Bush League Factor). The Kane County Cougars have moved to the Atlantic League, while the Lake County Capitans have moved to the Carolina League.
NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE: As a short-season A league, the NPL has been folded. Most teams have moved to various collegiate summer leagues (and thus out of BLF coverage): the Auburn Doubledays and Batavia Muckdogs to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League; the Vermont Lake Monsters to the Futures Collegiate Baseball League; and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters to the MLB Draft League. The Lowell Spinners and Norwich Sea Unicorns have suspended operations in search of a new league; their future is uncertain. Finally, the Staten Island Yankees have folded.
NORTHWEST LEAGUE: Formerly a short-season A league, the NWL is now at the High A level. The Boise Hawks have moved to the Pioneer League, which is no longer affiliated (but which is still a professional league and thus will still be covered by the BLF). The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes have dropped out of professional baseball and will no longer be covered by the BLF; they are forming a new amateur league with four teams with all games to be played in the stadium where the Volcanoes played their home games as part of the NWL.
PACIFIC ASSOCIATION: The California Dogecoin, who were set to debut in 2020, have folded without ever having played a game. The three remaining teams have decided to suspend the 2021 season and are planning to return in 2022 (presumably with at least one more team).
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE: Although no teams have folded, several have left for other leagues. The Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds, Nashville Sounds, and Omaha Storm Chasers are moving to the International League; the San Antonio Missions and Wichita Wind Surge are moving to the Texas League; and the Fresno Grizzlies are moving to the California League. The PCL is also picking up one team, the Sugar Land Skeeters, who formerly played in the independent Atlantic League.
PIONEER LEAGUE: The Pioneer League has coverted to an independent league, but otherwise is remarkably stable. The only changes are that the Orem Owlz have suspended operations and are planning to return in 2022 in another city, and the Boise Hawks have joined from the Northwest League.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE: The Hagerstown Suns have folded. In addition, there have been massive changes between this league and the Carolina League. Moving from the SAL to the CL are the Asheville Tourists, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Greenville Drive, Hickory Crawdads, Lakewood BlueClaws, and Rome Braves. Coming to the SAL from the CL are the Carolina Mudcats, Down East Wood Ducks, Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Lynchburg Hillcats, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Fredericksburg (formerly Potomac) Nationals, and Salem Red Sox. Finally, there is one change not involving the Carolina League, which is that the Lexington Legends have moved to the independent Atlantic League.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE: The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp have moved to the American League. The Jackson Generals have suspended operations, and their future is uncertain. Other than that the Southern League remains intact.
TEXAS LEAGUE: The San Antonio Missions and Wichita Wind Surge have dropped from the Pacific Coast League. Other than that the Texas League remains intact.
Our condolences to fans in Grand Prairie, Woodbridge, Port Charlotte, Pawtucket, Staten Island, Orem, and Hagerstown. To fans in Lancaster, Lowell, Norwich, and Jackson, here's hoping your team finds a new league to play in for the 2022 season.
"What's the Bush League Factor?" you may be thinking.
Basically, it's a not-too-serious attempt at quantifying how lousy some of the logos in minor league hockey and baseball are. Certain offenses have been catalogued -- cartoony logos, logos with irrelevant features in them (such as a bear in the logo for a team called the "Aces"), trendy and/or garish colors, and so forth. Each offense has been given a point value, and the scores have been added up.
Some people would say that I need to get a life, and they may be right, but until then I'm going to keep working on this.
Updates should come roughly once a week during the season...maybe more often, maybe less. Keep checking to see what I have to say. With every update one team (sometimes more if I'm feeling ambitious) will be spotlighted. Teams will be done in a seemingly random order (it isn't, but the exact order is left as an exercise to the reader).
Navigation is fairly straightforward. Look at the links on the left and click on the team or department you want to go to.
If you wish to contact me, the best way is through the Facebook page. If you're old school and prefer e-mail, my username is daniel and my domain is the same as that for this page. I avoid putting the two together because I get more than enough spam as it is. Be warned that I often go months without checking the e-mail for this site, whereas I'm on Facebook fairly often. Comments are welcome and encouraged. Particularly witty comments may get put on the website. Particularly stupid ones may as well. Sending me e-mail regarding the Bush League Factor constitutes acceptance of these terms (which is a fancy way of saying, "No, you can't sue me for putting your e-mail on the webpage!").
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