Newberry — MLB ignores grassroots with plan to whack minors | Sports Columns

Baseball is already struggling to attract new fans — especially younger ones.

So, what brilliant idea have the powers-that-be come up with to expand the popularity of the national pastime?

Contraction, of course.

With its eyes firmly on the bottom line and not the future of the game, Major League Baseball is pushing a proposal to whack 42 minor league teams — and several entire leagues — from its vast network of affiliates that bring the game to every corner of country.

That includes Chattanooga, Tennessee, home of the Double-A Lookouts and a city where professional baseball was first played in 1885.

“It came as a shock,” said Jason Freier, co-owner of the Lookouts. “If you’re constantly trying to grow the game, why would you be taking baseball out of 40-plus markets?”

Good question.

While MLB might be able to justify weeding out some of the weaker franchises in the minors — I mean, do we really need the Florida Fire Frogs, a Class A team that averaged 327 fans per game this season? — it’s obvious that money is at the heart of all this.

MLB wants to cut its development costs, especially in light of a class-action lawsuit stating…

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