Bernie Sanders: MLB's Antitrust Exemption At Stake With MiLB Plan
U.S. Sen. and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) wrote in a letter sent through his campaign to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that the league's "exemption from antitrust laws could be at stake" with its proposal to overhaul its minor league system, according to Niels Lesniewski of ROLL CALL. Sanders wrote, "Shutting down 25 percent of Minor League Baseball teams, as you have proposed, would be an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country. Not only would your extreme proposal destroy thousands of jobs and devastate local economies, it would be terrible for baseball." Sanders is "not alone in expressing concern about eliminating the affiliations." There has been "considerable consternation from the House side, as well." More than 100 House members, representing both parties, "signed on to a letter" led by U.S. Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). Congress has "threatened baseball with an antitrust crackdown from time-to-time, most notably during the debates over the use" of PEDs. The House members "did not make as specific a warning as Sanders about the antitrust exemption in their letter to Manfred" (ROLLCALL.com, 11/25).
NOT ADDING UP: Main Street Baseball President & CEO Dave Heller said of MLB's plan, "There's real human cost here and I hope MLB remembers that." Main Street Baseball owns the Single-A N.Y.-Penn League Lowell Spinners, among other teams, and in Boston, Michael Silverman notes Heller has been "personally stunned and professionally flummoxed by what he sees as the capricious inclusion of the Spinners" on the list of 42 MiLB teams that would lose their affiliations. He said that he has "yet to receive a satisfactory answer for what criteria the Spinners have failed to meet in the eyes" of MLB. Heller said that since buying the Spinners in '16, he and the city have "made every change requested by the Red Sox, and he cannot fathom where Lowell falls short." Heller: "We now today have the best playing field in the New York-Penn League, and then we get put on the contracted list and told that our facility is not up to standard?" A source last month said that MLB "considered the Spinners' facility to be up to snuff enough for it to be part of one of the new independent 'Dream Leagues' that MLB has proposed without much specificity." But Heller is "not warming up to the idea of being the owner of an independent team overseen by MLB." Heller: "That doesn't sound like a Dream League; that sounds like a Pipedream League" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/26).
EVALUATION PROCESS: Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said the franchise, which would have two affiliates eliminated, needs to take a "step back" and evaluate the "entire system and what's best for the players throughout the organization." Jeter: "We want the facilities to be top-notch, we want to give our players [a chance] to develop at a rapid pace and we want to make sure that the conditions are great to help us develop Major League players" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/26).