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Volume 26 No. 224
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Bernie Sanders Meets With Rob Manfred To Discuss MiLB Proposal

Sanders after the meeting said Manfred is "committed to a good faith negotiation" on the MiLB proposal
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Sanders after the meeting said Manfred is "committed to a good faith negotiation" on the MiLB proposal
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Sanders after the meeting said Manfred is "committed to a good faith negotiation" on the MiLB proposal
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) met with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to "discuss MLB's proposal that would drop 42 minor league teams from their leagues" after the '20 season, according to the AP. Last month, Sanders sent Manfred a letter "calling the plan 'an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country.'" After the meeting, Sanders in a statement said that Manfred is "committed to a good faith negotiation" and is "open to solutions that would maintain professional baseball in the 42 communities while addressing concerns about facilities, working conditions and wages for minor league players" (AP, 12/2). In Boston, Michael Silverman notes the statement was released ahead of today's "announcement of a 'Save Minor League Baseball Task Force' on Capitol Hill." U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) is "spearheading the Task Force announcement," as more than 100 members of the House "from both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition to MLB's initial proposals." The current Professional Bargaining Agreement between MLB and MiLB "expires at the end of September." The two sides will "resume negotiations in San Diego Friday, and likely will be in talks for months to come" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/3). The AP noted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also wrote to Manfred to "express concern about the impact" of dropping minor league teams. Wolf wrote that the current proposal will "put players and employees out of jobs and be economically harmful to host communities" (AP, 12/2).

NO FANS OF THE PLAN: In L.A., Mark Whicker writes there is "little question that players can be developed more efficiently," but most minor league players "spend too little time there, not too much." As an industry, the minors are "thriving, with 68 new ballparks" built since '00, and a 2.6% "attendance hike" in '19. Meanwhile, MLB's average attendance has "plunged" by 14% since '07. Whicker: "What is the endgame here?" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/3). A Toledo BLADE editorial stated that MLB is "taking a page out of the 21st-century corporate playbook with its plan to consolidate its minor league operations." It is "not just players on the imperiled teams who are at risk," it also is the "communities that surround, staff and support these organizations." MLB has not "invested directly in the construction of minor league ballparks or facilities, so it does not believe it has any responsibility for what comes of them." MLB has "proposed spinning the unaffiliated teams and players off into an independent 'Dream League,' but it is hard to imagine how such a league could remain economically competitive without a meaningful connection to the pros" (Toledo BLADE, 12/2).

KICK THE CAN: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the "best way" for MLB to deal with the question of its MiLB affiliates could be to "punt on the issue for now, and deal with it in a few years." If the two sides "work out a shorter deal -- three or four or five years -- then this would table the issue for a time, allowing for more discussion about facility quality and a possible reduction in the number of affiliates and minor leaguers" (ESPN.com, 12/1).