MiLB President Offers Scathing Rebuke Of MLB Contraction Plan
MiLB President Pat O'Conner addressed a number of the league's execs about MLB's proposal to contract 42 minor league teams, and he "delivered a blistering rebuke of the plan," according to Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com. O'Conner yesterday said, "We cannot allow ourselves to be splintered for this next deal. No one's future is safe, unless all of your futures are safe." Doolittle noted MLB has suggested that changes are "needed due to poor facilities in some communities and a need for enhanced player health services, better pay and reduced travel." But O'Conner said he is "not comfortable with conceding the notion that we need such radical change." He also "insisted that any proposal that would impact the number of teams or end the long histories of many of the teams that might be subject to contraction won't be tolerated." O'Conner's speech, along with a preceding address by MiLB VP Stan Brand, seemed to "lay out a two-fold strategy to brace for the ongoing negotiations, beginning with the need for minor league clubs and leagues to act as a unified entity." O'Conner: "I assure you the power of one, in this current environment, is never more important than it is today. This situation reinforces the power of one, not only as mantra to success, but it's our mantra to survival -- as individual teams and as an organization" (ESPN.com, 12/9).
CONTENTIOUS, BUT PRODUCTIVE: O'Conner said that face-to-face negotiations between MiLB and MLB have been "productive." In Boston, Michael Silverman notes the two sides "remain firmly entrenched when it comes to MLB's plan to strip affiliation from 42 ballclubs." O'Conner suspects that MLB "finally might be open to the idea of explaining why and how it arrived at its overhaul proposal." His speech to MiLB owners and execs "emphasized unity and solidarity at a time when the minor league owners feel under attack for an out-of-the-blue proposal to shrink their size" by 35%. O'Conner is "happy to have Congress turn up the heat on MLB," but is "not looking for them to enact punitive measures to solve the problems." O'Conner said, "All we're trying to do with this is make Congress aware of what's at stake -- we're looking for a level playing field to negotiate this deal, we are not looking for Congress to help us negotiate this deal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/10). O'Conner said relations between the two leagues are "between tense and contentious." He said, "We got a little public. We got a little too hot, too quick. I think that tide has turned, sending a new group to the table, resetting the deal, re-starting the dialogue. I'm not overly optimistic about where we are right now, but I'm committed to a deal" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/10).
ENTERING THE FRAY: The GLOBE's Silverman notes U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have "entered the escalating fray" over MLB's proposal. In a "sharply worded letter" sent to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last week, Warren and Markey "depicted the contraction plan as 'a slap in the face'" to the Single-A N.y. Penn League Lowell Spinners, and to communities across the country. The two "minced few words on the harmful impact the overhaul would create." The senators urged Manfred to "strongly reconsider this ill-advised proposal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/10).