An unsolicited endorsement of Independent Baseball plus a few rambling thoughts from your humble typist, as I catch up from some recent travels.
No less a respected baseball figure than Bill James predicted a bright future for the Independent game when our paths crossed during a Boston Chapter SABR meeting earlier this week. I had not seen Bill in some time, but the words of praise for this recognized industry were the first ones out of his mouth when we were greeting each other. James's appearance helped draw a packed crowd--80 or so--at The Baseball Tavern, which is located across the street from venerable Fenway Park.
James continues to be a trend-setter in the baseball statistical and publishing worlds even though he has moved to Boston as part of his role as Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Red Sox.
Red Sox VP of Media Relations John Blake also stopped by the SABR event. One of the best in his field, Blake never hesitates to think back to the days not so long ago when he was Chief Operating Officer for the Northern League.
The SABR people gave me the opportunity to talk about some of the Indy game's best major league prospects as I discussed my Independent Baseball Insider column as well as our fourth annual book, The Independent Minor Leagues: 2007 Season in Review.
Other notes which have caught our eye:
The Atlantic League has another of its former managers in a prominent major league job today. Mike Easler, who led Nashua, NH in 1998, is the Los Angeles Dodgers' new hitting coach. He replaces Don Mattingly, who had to request a reassignment of his duties because of a family matter. Easler was hitting coach at Las Vegas, the Dodgers' Triple-A club, last season. He had a .293 career average during a 14-year major league playing career.
The South Coast League cannot be happy with the fact Atlanta's top farm club, forever at Richmond, VA, soon will be moving to Gwinnett County. The SCL had hoped to pluck that heavily-populated suburban Atlanta territory, which could have given the second year league solid infiltration into that area.
The SCL has officially added Jackson, MS to its six-team lineup for 2008, replacing Bradenton, FL. Jackson was in the Central League as recently as 2005.
With Mississippi and Maryland included on the Independent map for 2008, 29 states will have teams. Waldorf, MD will be the home site of the new Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League.
Condolences go out to United League President Craig Brasfield on the loss of his father, Joe.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
BILL JAMES LIKES FUTURE OF INDY GAME; 29 STATES NOW INVOLVED
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.