IDAHO FALLS — U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is one of four co-chair’s who will lead the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force” that was announced this week. He joins Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV) and Max Rose (D-NY) as the other co-chairs.
Major League Baseball announced a proposal to cut 42 minor league teams — including the Idaho Falls Chukars — after the 2020 season. The task force will advocate for the communities that Major League Baseball wants to dissolve. They will also monitor the negotiations between the majors and minors and discuss other legislative actions if they become necessary.
“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities. Minor league baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country,” Simpson said in a press release. “To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that depend on minor league baseball organizations.”
The task force group held its inaugural meeting where members listened to Minor League Baseball (MiLB) President Pat O’Conner, along with several Minor League team owners. They talked about how they can keep the momentum going on this crucial matter.
“We will make perfectly clear that Congress is ready to defend our communities, which stand to lose out in MLB’s proposal to slash the number of Minor League teams,” Trahan said. “Congress must have a voice in this conversation.”
The task force comes after Trahan and McKinley led a bipartisan effort in November with 104 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In a letter addressed to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, they voiced why the MLB should not cut the franchises.
“We appreciate the support of Rep. Lori Trahan, David McKinley and the members of the task force in standing up for Minor League Baseball and speaking out against MLB’s effort to cast off thousands of jobs, reduce affordable, family-friendly entertainment and undermine grassroots support for our great game,” Chukars President and General Manager Kevin Greene said in a press release.
Cost savings is one reason the MLB wants to do away with the 42 teams but Congress believes eliminating them due to cost might hurt communities.
“Minor League Baseball values the support of Representatives Trahan, McKinley, Rose and Simpson and the entire Task Force for America’s pastime and for recognizing our positive contributions to their communities and local economies as well as dozens of others across the country,” the MiLB said in a press release. “While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels of government, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation.”