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Proposed Minor League Baseball Retraction to Affect Tennessee Teams

Baseball Anti-Trust Exemption (A-TE)and MiLB Retraction  

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  1. 1. What should be done about MLB's Anti-Trust Exemption (A-TE)?

    • Keep A-TE as is
    • Eliminate A-TE if MiLB retraction is carried through w
    • Eliminate A-TE anyway

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  • Poll closed on 11/24/20 at 09:17 PM

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Per Ballpark Digest, Major League Baseball intends to reduce its affiliation with 42 minor league teams including Jackson, Chattanooga, and the entire Appalachian League including Johnson City, Bristol, Kingsport, Elizabethton and Greeneville, Tennessee. By retraction, the league will no longer provide players for the teams nor will they be affiliated with a particular Major League Team.


With the PBA agreement between MLB and MiLB set to expire at the end of the 2020 season, MLB is proposing to contract 42 existing MiLB teams, add two markets (St. Paul and Sugar Land) currently served by independent-baseball teams, shift teams from current classifications, and raise some existing short-season teams to full-season leagues. (We have a list of teams slated for elimination and upgrades at the end of this article.) The moves would leave Minor League Baseball with 118 guaranteed teams, down from the current lineup of 170 franchises. There would also be a realignment of existing leagues, with a new Mid-Atlantic Class-A league proposal as well as a third Triple-A league.

So how does MLB feel about the changes?


So, what happens to those teams and cities carrying debts on team purchase and ballpark construction? Tough break. MLB has been clear that it has never been involved in planning or playing for MiLB ballparks—even though cities, counties and states have been spending money to develop MLB ballplayers.


“I don’t see any way we can do something like this,” a major league official told me. “My God, we’ll be sued all over the place from these cities that have built or refurbished ballparks with taxpayer money, and this will really put our anti-trust exemption in jeopardy. It’s crazy.”

But a minor league clubowner who has been sitting across the table from [MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan] Halem in these so-far fruitless negotiations on the new PBA is not so sure.

“I cannot believe the arrogance of these people,” he said. “They don’t care about lawsuits or anything. They think they’re bullet proof. They’ve told us, ‘We’re doing this and there’s no discussion about it, and if you don’t like it, we’ll form our own minor leagues.’”

And what is the reaction from MiLB (at least the losers in this deal....


Indeed, it’s this arrogance that really rankles many in the Minor League Baseball world. One major complaint repeated time after time: MLB is ostensibly making these changes because of facility concerns, but at no point did the MLB negotiating team set down clear facility standards. It is true that MLB clubhouse needs have changed dramatically in the last decade, as teams add more coaches and nutritional experts to the mix. A well-appointed MiLB clubhouse will sport not just a locker area, but also dedicated coaches’ rooms, a lounge, a kitchen, a large workout area and a video/computer room. But adding these spaces to most ballparks is not considered a huge expense: we’re talking cinderblock construction with decent finishes. By not laying out a minimum player facility standard and allowing teams to meet it in order to maintain affiliation, MLB officials are open to the charge of not negotiating in good faith.

But a more recent article indicates there is some significant pushback from political sources forming....


A broad, bipartisan group of legislators, presidential candidates, current players, state officials and local politicos have condemned Major League Baseball’s plan to contract 42 Minor League Baseball franchises for the 2021 season.

That there would be a backlash to the proposal is no surprise: we predicted one when we first reported on the Professional Baseball Agreement negotiations in October:

Taking shots at greedy MLB owners will be a very easy, bipartisan sell for U.S. senators and representatives from rural states who could lose one or more teams. There’s just no downside for a politico on either side of the aisle to decry the loss of grassroots baseball, whether it be a liberal from New York State or Massachusetts, or a conservative from Tennessee, Montana or Iowa. Thinking that a Joni Ernst or a Chuck Grassley would pass on the opportunity to rail against the MLB fat cats is naïve. Inevitably we’ll see attempts to rescind MLB’s treasured anti-trust exemption—and with 33 U.S. Senate seats up for election in 2020, the exemption would be an easy target.

So maybe, this idiocy can be stopped.  I love minor league baseball and have been to Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Johnson City and it is a wonderful product. MLB's minor league contraction could be business suicide as the anti-trust exemption could possibly be removed. IMHO, the Senate with it's small state bias might be for it, but counting votes in congress where MLB cities are heavily represented might be a tougher call.


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