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Atlantic League strengthens ties to Major League Baseball

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
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The bonds between the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball are getting tighter.

MLB announced Wednesday in a news release that it has named the independent Atlantic League its first Partner League. As a Partner League, the Atlantic League will meet regularly with MLB officials to discuss joint marketing and promotional opportunities. That includes the leagues’ shared goal of providing baseball to communities throughout the United States. 

The Partner League designation expands the current agreement between the leagues, which permits MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during Atlantic League games. The existing agreement has also been extended through the 2023 season.

During the 2019 season, MLB and the Atlantic League partnered to test the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS), which used radar-tracking technology to assist home-plate umpires in calling balls and strikes. In addition, the Atlantic League tested rules limiting defensive shifting, mound visits, shortening inning breaks and larger bases.

The York Revolution has been a member of the Atlantic League since 2007. The Atlantic League did not have 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doug Eppler, the director of marketing and communications for the Revs, couldn't provide any additional details about the new partnership, but he did say that the partnership is part of a larger vision by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

"We see this in keeping with the Major League Baseball commissioner's one-baseball directive," Eppler said. "His goal is to help ensure baseball is in every community that wants it. We've put out an open call that the Atlantic League would welcome new teams and new applicants. That goes a long way in that directive."

Eppler said that the Atlantic League would be interested in talking with any minor league teams that are currently affiliated with major league teams that could find themselves contracted by MLB in the future. There is much reporting out there that more than 40 affiliated minor-league teams could be contracted in the near future.

"We interested in talking to anyone that might be a quality addition to the league," Eppler said. "What this (partnership) does, is further elevate the Atlantic League in the eyes of baseball afficionadoes across the country.

"We know we’re going to be working much more closely and much more frequently with Major League Baseball in the future. As the future of baseball takes shape, the Atlantic League is going to be right there at the table, contributing to it."

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.