Everything on hold?
If there is a silver lining for Major League Baseball in the Houston Astros sign stealing caper, it has overtaken Major League Baseball’s other problem. Eliminating 42 minor league baseball teams that serve as feeder clubs for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises. While the sign stealing issue is MLB’s top problem in terms of perception, the Minor League Baseball lopping off of teams may be more consequential down the line. MLB’s plan has kicked up a hornet’s nest among politicians and it is those people that MLB depends upon to get business breaks starting with Congress. The West Virginia House of Representatives condemned the plan because the state would lose two Appalachian League teams, the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays. Major League Baseball wants to wipe out the Appalachian League as part of the elimination scheme.
West Virginia, which has seen business and population declines, needs the teams and the money that comes with the teams in the form of part time, low paying jobs along with some baseball industry related spending in those areas. According to the state body’s measure, which essentially is begging MLB to change its collective mind about the cutbacks, the “teams within West Virginia are engines of tourism, and attracting thousands of visitors to come to West Virginia who might not otherwise visit our state from every other state in the nation and several other countries.” The Appalachian League has 10 teams in total with four in Tennessee, two in West Virginia, one in North Carolina and three in Virginia. It is estimated that Major League Baseball owners can save about $20 million annually by eliminating minor league teams. It seems rather foolish that Major League Baseball owners would want to alienate fans by eliminating a source of local entertainment and some part time seasonal jobs but money talks.