It looks like we finally know what's going on with the Pioneer League and Major League Baseball. For the past year, there's been an ongoing back-and-forth between the MLB and minor league teams across the country - Major League Baseball was looking to cut their affiliation with several minor leagues, and the Pioneer League (which includes the Missoula Paddleheads) was one of them.

The pandemic halted negotiations for a while, and the Paddleheads didn't even get to play this season (though they still managed to use Ogren Park for all kinds of events during the summer, including Centerfield Cinema, Trivia Tuesdays, and Friday Happy Hours). But back in September, the Paddleheads Vice President Matt Ellis said he was "hopeful" for a solution to come soon, and now it finally has.

The Pioneer League is now becoming a "Partner League" of Major League Baseball, joining the likes of the Atlantic League, American Association, and Frontier League. So what exactly does that mean?

According to the press release, it means that the Pioneer League is going to transition away from affiliated status with the MLB, but that they will be an independent league that collaborates with Major League Baseball to provide the sport throughout the western US and Canada. It also mean that the MLB will "provide initial funding for the league's operating expenses."

So realistically, it sounds like not all that much will be changing from an audience perspective. The Paddleheads will still get to play in 2021, and you'll be able to watch them. This is more of a business-side-of-things type deal. You know how when someone talks about something obscure and dense about a topic they know a lot about, and people call it "inside baseball?" That's literally what this is!

So hopefully, we'll be seated at Ogren Park next year watching the Paddleheads play and not have to worry about the ins and outs of what their league status is. And hey, let's bring back Centerfield Cinema next year, too. That was great.

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