LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Lexington Legends take the mantle of home team seriously. The owners of this minor league baseball franchise are immersed in regional charities. Its handlebar-mustachioed mascot, Big L, crashes dozens of birthday parties every year. Its ballplayers routinely visit the hospital bedsides of children. The owners say their team’s ability to draw 4,000 fans a game has hinged in part on its connection to Major League Baseball, first as a Houston Astros affiliate and now with the Kansas City Royals. Locals who may never visit a major league stadium can see the hottest prospects, the future Jose Altuves, down at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. All for $5. But this opportunity of basic American fandom may soon vanish from dozens of communities across the country. MLB is proposing to sever its parent-club ties with the Legends and 41 other minor league teams — from the Blue Jays of Bluefield, West Virginia, to the PaddleHeads of Missoula, Montana. It is all part of MLB’s desire to overhaul the lower minor leagues and the way that promising ballplayers are developed. Under the proposal, the 42 newly independent teams would be welcome to join a lower-quality Dream League populated largely by undrafted… Read full this story
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