I think every Charleston baseball fan was disappointed when the W.Va. Power didn't get an invite into the new, 120-team Minor Leagues. However, if we join the independent Atlantic League, there's a lot of positives. What follows is a few examples.
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1. Later start of seasons. Full-season Minor Leagues start their seasons (in normal years) the first week of April. The Atlantic League (in normal years) starts the last week of April.
Aprils in Charleston tend to be rainy and chilly, not conducive to watching baseball.
2. Later end of seasons. Minor League regular seasons end on Labor Day (to accommodate expansion of Major League rosters).
Without player development ties to the Majors, the Atlantic League regular season goes to the last week of September -- one of our nicest weather months.
3. More games. In a normal season, the Atlantic League season is 140 games, with 70 home games.
With the reorganization, Class A Minor Leagues will go to 132 game seasons, with 66 home games.
4. Keeping Thirsty Thursdays. Under reorganization, Minor Leagues will play three-game series, Tuesday-Thursday, and Friday-Sunday, with the requirement that games on Sunday and Thursday "getaway days" start before 4 p.m. local time.
The Minors have traditionally played afternoon games on Sundays, but Thursdays have been beer promotion nights for most clubs.
Also, if you're a Minor League season ticket holder who works weekdays, that's 11 games a year you'll either miss the game or arrive late.
5. Higher caliber of play. As a trade-off for not seeing MLB teams' top prospects, the Atlantic League has players who played in AA, AAA and even the Majors and are working to get back, or simply want to keep playing as long as they can.
6. Affordability. With all the requirements MLB has placed on the Minor League teams (facility improvements, schedule restrictions, taking a larger share of profits), it seems inevitable that Minor League ticket and concession prices will move toward Major League levels.
The Atlantic League has high standards for facilities, but they're not basically picking the pockets of affiliate teams.
All in all, I think Charleston baseball fans ultimately will consider ourselves lucky to go into the Atlantic League. (If that's what happens Wednesday.)

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