Congressional Task Force press release
Yesterday (Tuesday, December 3), Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV), Max Rose (D-NY), and Mike Simpson (R-ID) announced the official formation of the bipartisan Save Minor League Baseball Task Force. At the group’s inaugural meeting, interested Members heard from Minor League Baseball (MiLB) President Pat O’Conner and several Minor League team owners. The group discussed strategy to continue the momentum on this urgent issue.
The Save Minor League Baseball Task Force will advocate on behalf of the communities that stand to be most harmed by MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league franchises. They will closely monitor ongoing negotiations between MLB and MiLB as well as discuss potential legislative action if and when such a remedy becomes necessary.
“I am proud to launch this important Task Force with my Co-Chairs; Representatives McKinley, Rose, and Simpson. Together along with our colleagues we will make perfectly clear that Congress is ready to defend our communities, which stand to lose out in MLB’s proposal to slash the number of Minor League teams. The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home, and Congress must have a voice in this conversation,” said Congresswoman Trahan.
“Baseball is America’s pastime, and minor league teams have a major impact on small communities across our country,” said Congressman McKinley. “While we understand the MLB has concerns: the idea that doing away with 42 teams is the only solution is not reasonable. We look forward to working with MiLB and MLB to find a compromise that will preserve affiliated baseball in these cities.”
“Major League Baseball can look at all the ‘sabermetrics’ it wants, but what they don’t understand is the serious impact that losing these baseball teams will have on our communities,” said Congressman Rose. “You won’t see it in any formula, but my colleagues and I have all seen the impact teams like the Staten Island Yankees can have on the faces of the children who show up at the ballpark every year. I’m proud to join this effort to urge the MLB to reconsider.”
“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities. Minor league baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country. To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that
depend on minor league baseball organizations. I am proud to join my colleagues in starting this task force to ensure baseball stays vibrant in communities like Idaho Falls and Boise,” said Congressman Simpson.
“Minor League Baseball values the support of Representatives Trahan, McKinley, Rose and Simpson and the entire Task Force for America’s pastime and for recognizing our positive contributions to their communities and local economies as well as dozens of others across the country. While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels of government, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation,” a statement from MiLB.
The formation of this task force follows a Trahan-McKinley led bipartisan effort along with 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge MLB to abandon its plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams. The full letter can be found HERE:
Brian Walton’s take
As previously reported, two affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals – the State College (PA) Spikes and Johnson City (TN) Cardinals – are among the 42 teams in MLB’s contraction proposal, which would take effect for the 2021 season.
The Spikes as well as Boyd Sports, which operates Johnson City and two other minor league clubs, offered immediate support of this task force.
“We appreciate the support of Rep. Lori Trahan (D.-Massachusetts), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and the members of the task force in standing up for Minor League Baseball and speaking out against MLB’s effort to cast off thousands of jobs, reduce affordable, family-friendly entertainment and undermine grassroots support for our great game,” said Spikes General Manager Scott Walker.
“With this proposal, MLB is willing to break the hearts of dozens of communities across the country,” said Boyd Sports President Chris Allen. “We are going to resist this plan and are gratified that so many in Congress are willing to join with us.”
It does not appear that Major League Baseball has yet offered an official response to this announcement. Worst case for them may be if their long-standing and highly-valuable anti-trust protection comes into question as this matter continues.
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