A potpourri of leftovers, mostly from last week's Winter Meetings, which did not make their way into our most recent Independent Baseball Insider column.
The Golden League and United League both seem encouraged about their efforts to start winter leagues next month, although they still have room for more players at this time.
This corner still has not had definitive word about any cities joining the Continental League, but I was told one more time from a league official that they expect to have four to six teams playing in 2007. It sounds to me like Texas and New Mexico communities are the most likely to participate.
What is getting into the Kansas City Royals? Not only are they shelling out some sizeable contracts for major league free agents, but they announced the signing of 21 players to minor league contracts, including onetime Independent Baseball players Roberto Giron (Frontier, Northern and Texas-Louisiana Leagues), Graham Koonce (Golden League), Justin Gemoll (American Association), Omar Pena (Can-Am League) and Cody Clark (Golden). Only Pena was in the Royals' chain last summer. The others came from a variety of major league organizations.
Outfielder Victor Hall, who played with both Mesa and Reno in the Golden League, was the only player with Independent ties selected in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. He was taken by Philadelphia in the Triple-A phase of the draft after hitting .320 in 63 games for the New York Yankees' Tampa affiliate. Keep Hall in mind as a possible choice to become the first Golden Leaguer to play in the major leagues.
Independent Baseball will be back on the silver screen in January. The Santa Barbara (CA) Film Festival picked up the 91-minute independent film production about the Samurai Bears, who played in the Golden League in 2005. Golden League Commissioner Kevin Outcalt described the movie as "sort of (like) Bull Durham meets Lost in Translation". Samurai Manager Warren Cromartie sings in the movie and among those who get screen time is Kash Beauchamp, now handling player acquisitions for the South Coast League. Ed Asner's son, Matt, and Donny Gold of Mod 3 Productions produced the movie.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
ALL THINGS INDEPENDENT, INCLUDING THE NEW WINTER LEAGUES AND A MOVIE
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.