What will 2009 bring?
We say Happy New Year to all our readers here and with my subscriber-only Independent Baseball Insider, while anxiously awaiting a new baseball season. With the economy and world peace well short of what we would like, making worldly predictions for the new year is risky business.
It may be somewhat easier in our little world of Independent Baseball. I won't climb too far out on the limb on this snowy Connecticut day, but predictions of the following nature seem pretty safe:
1. We will see at least a duplicate of 2008 in watching 35 players with Indy credentials getting into major league games. Nearly twice that many may get into spring training games, especially with the World Baseball Classic taking some talent away. One can only hope another half dozen players (the count this year) who started their pro career in an Independent league will get to the big time for the first time.
2. Major league organizations will continue to purchase players from Indy teams at a brisk pace. More than 100 players got to feel that "buzz" this season.
3. Independent general managers and their staffs will be every bit as creative as in the past to attract, then entertain, fans to their ballparks. The challenge is daunting as family budgets tighten, but the need for entertainment will not lighten and cost of major league visits likely will help. A third consecutive year of eight million in attendance is not out of reach.
4. And yours truly will be here at the keyboard, trying to inform and entertain.
So start '09 off right by keeping the bubbly to a minimum, hugs to your family at a maximum and officially count the days until pitchers and catchers report.