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Volume 26 No. 202
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Members Of Congress Urge MLB To Rethink MiLB Overhaul Proposal

Over 100 members of Congress yesterday signed a sternly worded letter addressed to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that expressed "firm opposition" to the league's proposal to dramatically overhaul MiLB and eliminate over 40 teams. MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem then countered with a four-page written response that MLB is hoping to improve facilities and playing conditions for the minor leagues. This comes as MLB and MiLB work through contentious negotiations before the Professional Baseball Agreement -- the current deal between the two sides -- expires following next season. Congress' letter to Manfred states in part: "We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime. ... Congress has taken numerous actions specifically designed to protect, preserve and sustain a system and structure for both Major and Minor League Baseball to flourish." The letter continued, "Reducing the number of Minor League Baseball clubs and overhauling a century-old system that has been consistently safeguarded by Congress is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball, especially when Major League Baseball's revenues are at all-time highs."

IN THE DETAILS: In MLB's proposal, 42 MiLB teams could be reclassified into a "Dream League," which would be run jointly by MLB and MiLB and include players who were not drafted. Halem's response said that MLB has identified clubs that do not possess adequate training or medical facilities, locker rooms or playing fields. He added, "We recognize that MiLB is framing the issue as saving baseball in communities that presently have it. But we have already committed to both MiLB and local communities that have inquired that MLB will offer options to preserve baseball in a viable and fan-friendly format in all cities that currently have an affiliate. The focus of MiLB in our very brief negotiations has been the impact of changes to the PBA on the value of their franchises -- not on the impact of changes on local communities."