Minor League Baseball in West Virginia Approaching Hard Times
Within the last month, there have been numerous rumblings about the possibility of major league baseball making some dramatic shifts with its minor league system.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has made a bevy of changes to the game in his short four years leading the cooperation. Many of these changes have not been pleasing to the traditional baseball fan. Such as being able to challenge an umpire's call, potential "shot clock" for pitchers to deliver a pitch and several other things that would take the strategic part of the game away.
However, all of that has been put on the back-burner as many minor league affiliates are being threatened of their existence.
Three West Virginia-based clubs were named in a long list of teams released by the New York Times that could dissolve. Those clubs being the West Virginia Power (Charleston), Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays. The newest minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Black Bears, were not listed on the initial list. The Black Bears have by far, the best facility of the West Virginia clubs, sharing that facility with West Virginia University - which is a big factor as to why they are not being mentioned.
West Virginia has never had the best economy and limited resources may deem it difficult to support a low tier professional franchise, but the people in the state want baseball to stay and the state itself needs it to stay.
West Virginia senator Joe Manchin released a statement regarding the situation.
“I will do everything I can to protect minor league baseball in West Virginia because many of these teams have been pillars of the community for decades. I’m contacting everyone I know in the MLB to ask them to consider the consequences of scrapping our local teams. Our national pastime has a rich history in West Virginia, and for generations, minor league baseball has brought our communities together and introduced countless youth to the sport. They need to understand the negative economic impact that this will have on our communities and that West Virginians have a true love for the game."
This not only hurts the state of West Virginia, but hurts the rich history of some other clubs around the country that have been around for decades. If this does go through, upwards of 40 minor league teams will be forced to go independent which will ultimately spell the end for many teams.