By Ken Reed
Four members of the House of Representatives — Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; David McKinley, R-W. Va.; Max Rose, D-N.Y.; and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho — introduced a resolution this week urging Major League Baseball to back away from its plan to eliminate 42 minor league teams.
Many of the teams targeted for elimination have been stalwart cultural institutions in their towns for decades.
“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.”
The plan is widely seen as a cost-cutting move by MLB owners. However, Stanford University economist Roger Noll says the true savings of cutting 42 teams is about $22.5 million. That figure represents slightly more than the combined cost of one minimum-salaried player on every MLB team.
An important question to ask in this matter is instead of a collective action by MLB, why not allow teams that want to cutdown their minor league system to do it on their own? Noll believes its because MLB’s edict is an act of a cartel looking to protect all of its members.
“The point of a cartel is to coordinate cooperative behavior,” notes Noll, “to help members ignore the incentive to compete.”
To that point, the benefit of MLB owners killing minor league teams as a group vs. each MLB franchise deciding which of their minor league teams to chop on their own, if they so choose, is that under MLB’s collective minor league contraction plan every team can cut costs without worrying about losing a competitive edge against competitors who might snap up more potential big league players for their farm system.
Major League Baseball owners have long enjoyed the benefits of an antitrust exemption bestowed upon them by Congress. However, that exemption could be in jeopardy if MLB goes through with this plan to eliminate 42 minor league teams. Over 100 members of Congress recently sent a letter to MLB suggesting that they could seek to repeal baseball’s antitrust exemption if teams in their districts aren’t spared.
Minor league baseball teams are part of Americana. Chopping 42 of them to save the equivalent of the cost of one minimum-salaried player per MLB team seems to be an example of greed at its most petty.
You can express your feelings on this matter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred at:
Major League Baseball
Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
245 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10167
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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