By NATHAN BROWN
Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; David McKinley, R-W.V.; and Max Rose, D-N.Y., announced the formation of the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force on Tuesday. At the group’s first meeting, lawmakers heard from Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner and several Minor League team owners and discussed a strategy to keep working on the issue.
Major League Baseball is considering cutting ties with 42 minor league teams, or a quarter of the total number of teams, after the 2020 season. The Idaho Falls Chukars and every other team in the Intermountain West’s Pioneer League are among those MLB is looking to cut ties with.
“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities,” Simpson said in a statement. “Minor league baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country. To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that depend on minor league baseball organizations. I am proud to join my colleagues in starting this task force to ensure baseball stays vibrant in communities like Idaho Falls and Boise.”
The task force’s formation comes after a letter signed by more than 100 members of Congress and written by Trahan and McKinley urging Major League Baseball to reconsider.
The four lawmakers plan to advocate for the communities that could be impacted by losing minor league teams, monitor the ongoing negotiations between the major and minor leagues and, discuss potential legislation “if and when such a remedy becomes necessary.”
“Major League Baseball can look at all the ‘sabermetrics’ it wants, but what they don’t understand is the serious impact that losing these baseball teams will have on our communities,” Rose said. “You won’t see it in any formula, but my colleagues and I have all seen the impact teams like the Staten Island Yankees can have on the faces of the children who show up at the ballpark every year. I’m proud to join this effort to urge the MLB to reconsider.”
Minor League Baseball thanked the lawmakers in a statement.
“While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels of government, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation,” the statement said.
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