As I write this week’s column, I know the situation might change by the time you read this, but I wanted to get my thoughts out there, none the less.
As you know I am a baseball fan and the chance of Minor League baseball not happening next summer in Charleston doesn’t sit very well with me at all.
The contract, known as the Professional Baseball Agreement, between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, expired a few weeks ago without a new deal being reached.
I reached out to David Kahn, broadcasting and media relations manager for the West Virginia Power, about the current uncertainty.
“Even though the agreement has expired," he said, "it hasn’t put the proverbial nail in the coffin for Power baseball, but we still don’t have a definitive answer on the matter. Nothing has really changed; we are just continuing to lean on our elected officials and community leaders to show Major League Baseball that we deserve to continue to be part of the Minor League landscape.”
While the negotiations continue, the Charleston franchise still is trying to figure out exactly what the COVID-19 pandemic meant to the club. As everyone knows, the pandemic caused the cancellation of the entire 2020 season for the Power and, with it, any revenue generated by the home games.
I personally can’t imagine having to wait to know if the baseball team I was working for was going to be on the field or not the next season. Along those lines, Kahn shared his frustration with me, saying, “With everything that has already hit Minor League baseball with the pandemic and not having a season, the waiting is just one more thing for everyone to have to deal with.
"Yeah, it’s frustrating, to say the least. This whole situation just put a big damper on the sport and the industry of Minor League baseball. But it has become the norm -- being frustrated with everything that has happened and, frankly, that’s sad, but we remain optimistic there will be baseball in Charleston next season.”
Right before the PBA ended, MLB announced that the Appalachian League, which included ball clubs in Bluefield and Princeton, will become a college summer league for upcoming freshmen and sophomores. The cool thing is that the players will be using wooden bats, instead of the aluminum ones they use on their college teams.
Again, everyone is hoping that there will be baseball in Charleston for the 2021 season, but this is the time when clubs like the Power start making plans for the upcoming schedule. Needless to say, Kahn told me that is an enormous challenge right now due to all of the uncertainty.
“It’s a little tough to put anything on paper right now, obviously, with the situation. We are certainly in the early stages of planning for 2021, but without a schedule, without knowing what league we are going to be in, what team affiliation we might have, what level we are going to be at, it’s tough to plan things like travel, promotions, stuff like that, because we just don’t know what we will be marketing to, in a sense,” Kahn said.
In the meantime, you can still hear Kahn on the radio, as he is a studio host doing updates during the West Virginia University Mountaineer football and basketball games, working for Learfield/IMG College, the network that has the radio broadcast rights for WVU. Kahn does his reports from the network’s Winston-Salem, North Carolina, studios.
So, in the meantime, the wait continues for baseball fans like myself, hoping to hear some good news that we all will be able to get back out to Power Park and enjoy some Power baseball next season.