Statehouse Beat: Why take us out of the ball game?

Charleston Gazette Mail

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Washington, November 23, 2019 | comments

In a political era when bipartisan is practically a dirty word, West Virginia politicians united in opposition to Major League Baseball’s proposal to eliminate 42 minor league baseball teams, including three of the four minor league teams in the state.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., co-authored a congressional letter to MLB opposing the plan, signed by 106 House members, including Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va. (Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., presumably busy trying to ferret out secret meetings in the Capitol basement and videotape himself in the process, did not sign on.)

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also strenuously objected to the plan, as did Gov. Jim Justice. The governor said he spoke with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, with whom he worked two years ago in an unsuccessful attempt to require state casinos to pay a portion of sports betting profits to the league in the form of an “integrity fee.”

Frankly, it was a bit of a shock to see the West Virginia Power on the list of teams slated to lose Major League affiliations in 2021 as part of a proposed new Professional Baseball Agreement with Minor League Baseball.

It was particularly shocking since it had been announced previously that Major League Baseball planned to eliminate all short season leagues (rookie, short-season A) that play from mid-June through August, beginning in 2021.

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