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Reggie Lawson of the Peoria Javelinas. Photo: Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Small cities around the country are fighting a Major League Baseball restructuring proposal that would cut the league's association with 42 minor league teams, AP reports.

Why it matters: The cities argue that the teams are a vital part of their communities — and some have invested significant municipal funds in stadium construction and upgrades to draw in fans.

The big picture: MLB is renegotiating its agreement — the current one is set to expire in 2020 — with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

  • The minor leagues' current 176 teams that are affiliated with the NAPBL attracted 41.5 million fans this year.

What they're saying: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote that the plan "would be an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country" in a letter he sent to MLB commissioner Robert Manfred Jr.

  • Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), whose district could lose a team based in Norwich, urged MLB officials to abandon the proposal in a bipartisan letter signed by 103 of his colleagues.

The other side: In a letter sent to Congress, the league said dozens of minor league teams do not have proper training and medical facilities, locker rooms and playing fields.

  • MLB deputy commissioner Daniel Halem wrote that "the majority of major league club owners believe that there are too many players in the minor league system."

Go deeper: Labor unrest lurks as free agency begins in the MLB

Go deeper

21 mins ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.

J&J vaccine pause hurts its reputation

Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' confidence in the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine took a big dip this week after the pause in its use, per new YouGov polling, even though the risk of blood clots following the shot is extremely low, if it exists at all.

Why it matters: For the majority of people, particularly high-risk Americans, getting the J&J shot is almost certainly less dangerous than remaining vulnerable to the coronavirus.