SCHUMER MEETS WITH MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PRESIDENT & TEAM OWNERS TO DISSECT PLAN THAT COULD STRIKE MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL OUT OF UPSTATE NY; SENATOR CONTINUES EFFORT TO PICK-OFF MLB PROPOSAL TO UPEND MINOR LEAGUES
Reported MLB Proposal Revealed +40 Minor League Teams Nationwide May Lose MLB Affiliations, Including Franchises In Binghamton, Batavia, Auburn And Staten Island
Schumer Recently Met With President Of Minor League Baseball, Pat O’Conner, & Owner Of Binghamton Rumble Ponies, John Hughes, To Seek Constructive Solutions To MLB Plan That Would Have A Devastating Impact On Upstate Communities; Schumer Also Met With Brian Parish, President of the Genesee County Baseball Club
Schumer: We Stand United In Our Efforts To Rework Harmful Proposal
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer recently sat down with President of Minor League Baseball (MiLB), Pat O’Conner, and owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, John Hughes, to hear out their concerns about Major League Baseball’s (MLB) reported proposal to restructure the minor leagues and dramatically reduce or significantly restructure a number of Upstate franchises that share an affiliation with an MLB club. The group also discussed ways to alter the plan to reduce its potentially harmful impacts in New York. Additionally, last week, Schumer spoke with Brian Parish, President of the Genesee County Baseball Club—the community ownership group of the Batavia Muckdogs—to hear out his concerns, as well.
“I was so pleased to have MiLB President Pat O’Conner and John Hughes, owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, down to my office in Washington to talk through the MLB’s troubling plan to restructure the minor leagues and strike teams across Upstate New York out of their major league affiliations. The conversation was positive and we all agreed that we must work in lock-step to keep minor league baseball sewn into the very fabric of our state, as it has been since World War II,” said Senator Schumer. “Before finalizing its plans, MLB must continue its discussions with local leaders, stakeholders and MiLB with the goal of reworking this plan and preventing New York from being left in the dust. MLB threw Upstate New York a biting curveball here, but we are looking to foul it off and get a better pitch to hit.”
Last month, news reports revealed that MLB is planning to take 42 teams that are currently affiliated with Major League teams and strip those organizations of their affiliations and reassign them to compete in a newly-formed, lower-caliber league, called the Dream League. Reports indicate that MLB’s current proposal would eliminate the Major League affiliations of four teams across New York State: the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Batavia Muckdogs, Auburn Doubledays and Staten Island Yankees—and drastically alter the business plans of the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones. During the meeting, Schumer heard out MiLB’s and the Rumble Ponies’ serious concerns with the plan, and vowed to do whatever he could to maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.
This November, after learning of the proposal, Schumer immediately wrote to MLB to express his serious concerns, push the league to stop playing hardball and sit down with local stakeholders to discuss the plan and search for constructive solutions that would maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York. In the time since, MLB met with representatives of MiLB and team owners to talk about the plan in further detail. Schumer is now urging those conversations to continue and for the parties to figure out a way to prevent the Upstate minor league teams from losing their major league affiliations.
A copy of Schumer’s original letter to MLB appears below.
Dear Commissioner Manfred,
According to reports in the New York Times and other sources, I understand that Major League Baseball (MLB) is planning to significantly reduce the number of minor league baseball teams that share an affiliation with a major league club. Specifically, reporting suggests that there are plans to reduce the number of affiliated minor league teams from 160 to 118, four of which are New York teams. My understanding is that these teams would instead compete in a newly formed independent league, called the Dream League. Although further details are necessary, reports have suggested that determinations of which teams will lose their affiliation and be reassigned to compete in the Dream League was based in part on the level of interest and investment in the teams and their facilities. Additionally, the reports also indicated that four other New York teams’ business plans may potentially be drastically altered without consulting with team owners, players or the local communities. New York’s minor league teams have always provided players and fans with a high quality experience and safe and reliable facilities, which is why I am so deeply concerned about the impact this proposal may have on local New York communities and strongly urge you to immediately halt this plan, engage with local stakeholders to get their input and perspective. Specifically, while these negotiations are ongoing, I strongly encourage you to sit down with community leaders, team owners and representatives from the Minor Leagues to ensure that all of the parties are able to provide their feedback and propose constructive solutions prior to any decisions being made that will impact their teams and surrounding communities.
In particular, I am deeply concerned about the impact that such a decision would have on local communities across New York. Reports suggest that teams in Auburn, Batavia, Binghamton, and Staten Island may be impacted by this reassignment to the Dream League and if true, I am writing to request that you reconsider such plans. These teams have woven themselves into the fabric of these towns across New York and dramatically upending that relationship could be devastating for those fans and the local communities alike.
Furthermore, the New York-Penn League has a long and proud history with teams throughout the region. Having just celebrated its 80th year, the League has been a staple of summer for fans throughout New York for decades. The NY-Penn League’s short-season schedule has been perfect for New York baseball fans; starting in mid-June following the end of the colder spring weather and running through the remainder of the summer months. The NY-Penn League is also proud to be the first stop for many of the games’ top prospects after the MLB Amateur Draft and there is a deep-rooted affinity amongst fans for many of these players that they have watched grow up and go on to excel in the Major Leagues. Therefore, the potential dissolution of the league is deeply troubling and something I request you reconsider.
In addition to the four teams I mentioned, the reports also indicated that the business plans for the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones will potentially be drastically altered. Given the importance of these eight New York teams to their local communities and the fact that conversations between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball on these restructuring and consolidation issues are ongoing, it’s imperative urge to immediately halt these plans, engage with local stakeholders to get their feedback. The decisions regarding the future of these teams is too important to their local communities to be made in a board
Baseball is our national pastime and part of the makeup of our country. This is based in no small part on the fact that baseball can be found across the country, not just in big cities with major league clubs. Therefore, we must do all we can to make sure that communities across the country, but especially in New York, continue to have access to and connection with their local minor league teams. It is critical to ensuring that the fabric of our nation remains unbroken and a love for the game can be discovered and nurtured in communities both big and small.
Thank you for all of the work you do to support and grown the game and for your willingness to take these requests into account as you move forward in this restructuring process. If I can be of assistance in any way in helping to facilitate these conversations please reach out to me or my staff.
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