Bipartisan effort underway to protect Minor League Baseball teams

ANAHEIM - APRIL 24: A close-up picture shows one of the new Major League Baseball official game balls lying on the grass during the Detroits Tigers game against the Anaheim Angels on April 24, 2000 at Edison Field in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ─ With spring training for Major League Baseball only a few weeks away, there’s a growing concern on Capitol Hill that a plan to reduce the number of minor league teams will hurt America’s favorite pastime.

The MLB announced the plan last December, which would cut more than 40 minor league teams from its farm system. Without support from the MLB, the teams are likely to fold, leaving smaller cities and towns around the country with empty ballparks.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, said there’s not a bipartisan resolution in support of Minor League Baseball and its contributions to small cities and towns across the country.

“I think one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on here is we have to save Minor League Baseball,” Brindisi said. “Minor League Baseball is very important to many small cities across the country. We want to see the major league come back a relook at this plan.”

The Binghamton Rumble Ponies are one of the teams that could be cut.

Binghamton Mayor Richard David called the plan “completely unacceptable.”

“For Major League Baseball to float this proposal, to say ‘We’re going to give you one year and we’re going to eliminate an entire tier of teams’ is outrageous,” David said.

The MLB said Minor League Baseball must be willing to play ball, adding nothing can be done until minor league teams resume negotiation.

“The most constructive role Congress can play to achieve these goals is to encourage Minor League Baseball to return to the bargaining table so we can work together to address the real issues impacting minor league players and communities,” the MLB said in a statement.

Brindisi said lawmakers will continue their fight to protect the minor league teams.

“Members on both sides of the aisle are not going to be quiet about this,” he said. “We’re going to swing for the fences.”

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