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Members of Congress criticize minor league baseball reductions

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 20, 2019

Members of Congress asked Major League Baseball this week to step back from plans to shrink the minor league system and eliminate some teams, including some in the Northwest League.

Abandoning the clubs “would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers and other stakeholders,” a bipartisan group of House members wrote to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. It noted that Congress has taken numerous actions in the last century to “protect, preserve and sustain” professional baseball and suggested the league strongly reconsider its plans.

The Spokane Indians have not been mentioned as a team that would be eliminated, although two teams they play in the Northwest League, the Tri-City Dust Devils and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, have. Minor league teams in Idaho Falls, Missoula and Billings are also mentioned for possible elimination in the most recent list.

Inland Northwest House members didn’t sign the letter, but a spokesman for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she supports the message even though the Indians aren’t on the chopping block.

“She agrees with her colleagues and would encourage MLB to rethink this,” said Jared Powell, communications director for McMorris Rodgers.

Minor league teams provide people outside of the Major League cities with an opportunity to see live baseball, Powell added.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, whose district includes the Tri-City Dust Devils, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter or the possible elimination of the team.

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