House asks comptroller general to study minor leagues

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From left to right, MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem, New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Binghamton Mayor Rich David and Rumble Ponies owner John Hughes stand outside NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 24, 2010. Sen. Schumer says Major League Baseball officials agreed to work to keep Binghamton’s Double-A baseball team, which is among the 42 minor league franchises targeted to lose their big league affiliation. The New York Democrat met with Halem, Wilpon and Eastern League president Joe McEachern to discuss the future of the Rumble Ponies, a New York affiliate. (AP Photo/John Kekis)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House of Representatives by voice vote approved legislation Tuesday to have the comptroller general of the U.S. study baseball’s minor leagues, which are trying to fend off a contraction proposal from major league clubs.

The bill calls on the comptroller general to “evaluate the social, economic, and historic contributions that minor league baseball has made to American life and culture.”

Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which governs the minors, are negotiating a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after this season. MLB’s proposal would drop the big league affiliation of 42 minor league teams and eliminate short-season leagues not held at major league training complexes.

“Major League Baseball would gladly participate in a serious Government Accountability Office analysis of the many problems in minor league baseball that are impeding the development of players,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement that cited “the widespread inadequacy of facilities, playing conditions, nutrition programs and burdensome travel demands. ”

“A thorough study would show that the status quo is not just outdated but failing both players and communities across the country that are at risk of being left behind by minor league owners who can move their team and leave town at any moment,” MLB said.

The current PBA guarantees a minimum 160 affiliations.

“Baseball has a major economic and social impact in communities such as my hometown of Idaho Falls,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican.

MLB and the minors last met Feb. 20, and talks are expected to continue into the summer. The majors already have unilaterally announced increases in the pay of players with minor league contracts starting in 2021.

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