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Volume 26 No. 229
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MLB Goes On Offensive Regarding Minor League Contraction Proposal

MLB has been "taking a beating" over its minor league contraction proposal that would strip 42 teams of their major league affiliations, but during this week's Winter Meetings, MLB has "finally decided it’s time to start fighting back," according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON GLOBE. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday described the state of the talks as a “tale of two cities” and advised MiLB to leave its “take it or leave it” stance to reporters. MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem brought 21 photographs from 13 minor league ballparks to the meetings, saying that they "depicted unsafe playing conditions, high-school-level clubhouses, and cramped training rooms." Meanwhile, Halem said that the list of 42 teams that has "leaked is out of date and thus wrong." Halem: "That list is inaccurate. There are a lot of different moving parts." He added that MLB is "not going to release a revised list because of its fluidity and the negotiation’s intensity." Silverman notes while MLB is "willing, for now, to endure criticism, it is unwilling to allow MiLB to continue to frame itself as the victim." Halem "made it clear that MLB believes MiLB has been unwilling to address the concerns about facility upgrades" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/12). 

SPEAKING OUT: While Manfred said that the "tenor of recent negotiations were more positive, he also excoriated MiLB for its approach." Manfred: "Some of the activities that have been undertaken by the leadership of Minor League Baseball have been polarizing in terms of the relationship with the owners. I think they've done damage to the relationship with Major League Baseball, and I'm hopeful that we will be able to work through that damage in the negotiating room and reach a new agreement." He added, "When people publicly attack a long-time partner after they've committed to confidentiality in the negotiating process, usually people don't feel so good about that. We subsidize to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every single year the operations of Minor League Baseball. Having said that, our players deserve to play in facilities that are up to grade. They deserve to have reasonable travel limitations. They deserve to be paid fairly" (USA TODAY, 12/11).

CROSSING THE AISLE: In L.A., George Skelton notes by standing up for MiLB teams all over the country, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) is "showing wholesome small-town values and priorities not always seen on the presidential campaign trail." Sanders is on a "crusade about it and has more than 100 members of Congress with him," including U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) That is a "unique political alliance between a self-described democratic socialist and an unwavering supporter of President Trump." Sanders’ "fight to preserve minor league ball shows a connection to local people -- little people -- that is one of his strengths" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12).