FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Save the Minor Leagues!

Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians AAA team. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair

Baseball had an exciting year — breakout stars, a major cheating scandal, a seven-game World Series.

And now it’s capping off the year with a disastrous idea from the owners. Led by the Houston Astros — the same Astros mired in scandals over cheating and domestic violence — Major League Baseball has proposed cutting 42 minor league teams all around the country.

Who’s on the chopping block? Teams from Quad Cities, Iowa and Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where the Little League World Series takes place every year, to Missoula, Montana and Orem, Utah.

These places have, in many cases, been a part of the fabric of baseball in America for over a century. The Vermont Lake Monsters, another team on the “hit list,” play in a stadium built in 1906, older than Fenway Park. The similarly targeted Hagerstown, Maryland Suns play in one built in 1930.

These teams have provided a way for folks in rural and underserved areas to see baseball and future major leaguers for a fraction of the price of traveling to an MLB city. And they’re a way to boost the communities they play in.

Compensation for these players is often ridiculously low — around the poverty line — and they don’t have a union like their professional counterparts. It’s a cutthroat and competitive environment, with only about one in ten minor leaguers making it to the majors. And with low per diems and intensive travel, it’s an exhausting endeavor.

These issues need to be addressed not only to ensure the survival of Minor League Baseball, but to help baseball itself thrive. Players aren’t going to become their best if they’re stuck on futons in host families’ homes, living off PB&J sandwiches.

But the solution is not to destroy the teams — and the local communities — who give them the chance in the first place. No wonder the proposal has been criticized by folks all over the political spectrum.

Senator Bernie Sanders wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred protesting the move. And over 100 representatives — from Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) to Trump supporters Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Greg Gianforte (R-CA) — signed on to a letter condemning the MLB’s hit list.

MLB has tried to justify the cuts in the name of cost savings, low attendance, and stadiums that fail to meet MLB standards. In reality, it’s rooted in greed and a desire for more profits — and it will backfire.

These teams employ 1,000 players and countless more workers, and the Minor Leagues saw over 40 million fans attend their games. At a time when the MLB is wringing its hands about attendance (now at a 16-year low while young fans are tuning in toother sports), eliminating this link to 42 communities would be deeply harmful.

Even so, major league teams in relatively modest markets like Kansas City are getting sold for $1 billion, and the MLB is making record revenues thanks to television deals. Meanwhile they have the gall to balk at requests for higher minor league salaries, while demanding minor league franchises pay for every part of their teams, which train those major leaguers.

It’s ridiculous. The MLB should be investing in these teams and players, so they’re not stuck on poverty wages and couches — and helping these historic stadiums endure for another hundred years. Baseball isn’t called America’s pastime for nothing, and these teams in locales all around the U.S. are a huge reason for that.

The MLB’s greed is wrong and destructive. Let’s build up the minor leagues, not cut them down.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
Jefferson Morley
On JFK, Tulsi Gabbard Keeps Very Respectable Company
Vijay Prashad
Standing Up for Left Literature: In India, It Can Cost You Your Life
Gary Leupp
Bloomberg Versus Bernie: The Upcoming Battle?
Richard Klin
Loss Leaders
Gaither Stewart
Roma: How Romans Differ From Europeans
Kerron Ó Luain
The Soviet Century
Mike Garrity
We Can Fireproof Homes But Not Forests
Fred Baumgarten
Gaslighting Bernie and His Supporters
Joseph Essertier
Our First Amendment or Our Empire, But Not Both
Peter Linebaugh
A Story for the Anthropocene
Danny Sjursen
Where Have You Gone Smedley Butler?
Jill Richardson
A Broken Promise to Teachers and Nonprofit Workers
Binoy Kampmark
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange
Wade Sikorski
Oil or Food? Notes From a Farmer Who Doesn’t Think Pipelines are Worth It
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of Vengeance
Hilary Moore – James Tracy
No Fascist USA! Lessons From a History of Anti-Klan Organizing
Linn Washington Jr.
Ridiculing MLK’s Historic Garden State ‘Firsts’
L. Michael Hager
Evaluating the Democratic Candidates: the Importance of Integrity
Jim Goodman
Bloomberg Won’t, as They Say, Play Well in Peoria, But Then Neither Should Trump
Olivia Alperstein
We Need to Treat Nuclear War Like the Emergency It Is
Jesse Jackson
Kerner Report Set Standard for What a Serious Presidential Candidate Should Champion
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Home Sweet Home: District Campaign Financing
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Latest BLM Hoodwinkery: “Fuel Breaks” in the Great Basin
Wendell Griffen
Grace and Gullibility
Cesar Chelala
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says No to Democracy
Nicky Reid
Hillary, Donald & Bernie: Three Who Would Make a Catastrophe
David Yearsley
Dresden 75
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail