House resolution proposed against Minor League Baseball contraction

WASHINGTON — Four members of the House of Representatives introduced a resolution Wednesday urging Major League Baseball not to follow through with its proposal to eliminate 42 current minor league teams.

MLB made the proposal last year to the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minors, during negotiations for a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after the 2020 season.

MLB wants to cut short-season leagues and reduce the number of farm teams each big league club affiliates with. It has proposed replacing the eliminated minor league teams with a not yet defined Dream League, somewhat similar to collegiate summer leagues.

The resolution was introduced by Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; David McKinley, R-W. Va.; Max Rose, D-N.Y.; and Mike Simpson, R-N.Y.

“Minor League Baseball teams have had a major impact on small communities. These teams provide an enormous cultural and economic benefit to the communities they call home,” McKinley said in a statement. “Doing away with 42 teams is not a reasonable solution.”

Montana has three Minor League Baseball teams, all in the rookie level Pioneer League: the Billings Mustangs, associated with the Cincinnati Reds; the Missoula PaddleHeads (formerly the Missoula Osprey), associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks; and the Great Falls Voyagers, associated with the Chicago White Sox.

Montana’s U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester are among the members of Congress who have expressed opposition to the proposal to eliminate minor league teams.

The text of the resolution says the House “supports the preservation of minor league baseball in 160 American communities” and it “recognizes the unique social, economic, and historic contributions that minor league baseball has made to American life and culture.”

“The proposal to cut 42 teams will leave communities like Idaho Falls without affordable and accessible options for families to experience America’s pastime,” Simpson said in a statement.

MLB thinks political pressure is not necessary.

“MLB is confident that we can modernize our minor league system, improve playing conditions for our players, and protect baseball in communities across America. However, doing so is best achieved with Minor League Baseball’s constructive participation, and a recognition that they need to be part of the solution,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “So far their approach has been neither constructive nor solutions-oriented. 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 all across the country.”